Oriah Mountain Dreamer published a blog post last week entitled Doing Our Best in which she asked the following question: “What if you and I and every person on the planet, in this moment are doing the best we can with the inner and outer resources we have?” The rest of her post went on to explore how we might see both ourselves and others differently if we look at life this way, and I strongly encourage reading her thoughts on the subject. I would do her an injustice by trying to summarize them here.
However, the part of her thinking that really captured my attention was the idea that if I accept that we really are doing the best we can with what we have, then surest route to improving our best is not blame, trying harder, or punishment—but rather an increase in the inner and outer resources that we have to work with. As one who spends a fair amount of my time berating myself for the fact that my best is not what I think it “should” be, this concept is revolutionary! Rather than increasing the quality of the best I have to offer, every moment spend in beating myself up, blaming myself, or trying to force myself to try harder, these things actually deplete the inner resources I have resulting making less likely that the best I have to give is what I would wish it to be.
As I mentioned a few days ago (in my Journey into Darkness post), my self-talk is quite toxic. It’s easy to see from Oriah’s question, however, how this becomes a vicious negative spiral. The uglier my self-talk becomes, the more my inner resources are decreased. The more my inner resources are decreased, the more the quality of the best I have to offer is diminished. The more the quality of the best I have to offer is diminished, the uglier yet my self-talk becomes. And on it goes …
So the question becomes how do I go about stopping this cycle? How do I begin increasing my inner resources in order to have a better best to offer? An obvious answer is to decrease the negative self-talk, and that is clearly a place I need to start, but habits of a lifetime are hard to change overnight. I can also choose to spend more of my time doing things I love and am good at (funny how often those two go together) to give me some positive messages to include in my self-talk without feeling inauthentic. I can choose to spend less time and attention on tasks, situations, and people who directly or indirectly contribute to my negative self-talk. (That one is a real challenge to implement as long as I am still in my current job!) I can spend my time and energy finding other ways to nourish my inner resources through a good diet, adequate sleep, physical activity, time in nature, yoga, meditation, and other things that feed my soul and body.
Not only do all of those things sound much more enjoyable that my current self-flagellation, I suspect that they will have a greater positive effect on the best I have to offer than anything else I’ve ever tried. I think it’s time for a new approach to giving my best!