Doing Your Best
DOING YOUR BEST
'The past is over. It is time to ask what we can do right, not what we did wrong. Forgive yourelf and move on.' (Bernie S. Siegel)
I've recently had what I would call a robust and heathy phone discussion with my dear friend and colleague about what it means to 'do our best'. I'm not sure we were completely in agreement, but it certainly made me think about this concept at a deeper level.
We always do our best
In my belief system, we are always doing our best in any given moment, from the moment we are conceived till the time we leave the physical body, and my understanding is that this extends to every dimension we are in, including the 'inbetween state'. You might be thinking 'But how can that be? Surely we don't always do our best and can always do better?' My answer is that we always do our best and we can always do better! More specifically: we always do our best, using the resources that are available to us at that time. Let me repeat this, because it's important:
We always do our best, using the resources that are available to us at that time.
We can always look back, minutes later, or perhaps weeks, months, even years later, and recognise that we could have done things differently, made alternative choices ~ which would certainly have resulted in very different outcomes ~ and in doing that we are undoubtedly learning important lessons, gaining wisdom, that we can (if we so choose) use when making decisions from the moment of that realisation.
Choices lead to decisions
When we make choices, which result in decisions, we are using all parts of our mind. One part of our mind will come up with all kinds of good reasons for making Choice A, whereas another part will strongly argue for making Choice B. This can all happen in a millisecond, and the part that wins will be the part that is strongest in that moment.
Good choice, bad choice?
Let's take what seems to be a small but actually not insignificant example. I'm feeling hungry. I open the fridge and consider the options. I can make a salad or cook something, using fresh ingredients. Hmm, that sounds a bit boring, it'll take time, I'm running late, got to go out soon. But on the other hand, it'll be much healthier, more nutritious, provide me with more energy than the quick fix.... Or, I could grab a chunk of cheese and a large piece of my favourite chocolate. Yum, I can taste it now! I can eat it more quickly, even in front of my laptop, I'll be able to leave on time, much tastier than a salad! Yeah, but it's certainly not such a healthy option, it'll give me a quick but temporary surge of energy, I'm carrying a bit of extra weight and these kinds of foods cetainly won't help. Think of all that sugar and fat....
By the way, this chat between the parts of my mind took only a few seconds, and I wasn't consciously aware of all the detail, just the conflicting emotions. The choice I finally make is based on a mixture of acquired knowledge, logic, emotions and feelings accumilated in our current lifetime (or perhaps carried forward from many previous lives). However....
Whichever choice I go with results in the best decision I can make, in that moment and with the resources available to me at that time.
Opportunity for Learning and Growth
Every time we are presented with a choice, we have an opportunity to learn from it. So, choices are, in fact, opportunities for learning and growth.
Let's say that I choose the cheese and chocolate, even though the less-strong part of me at the time was arguing it wasn't the best choice. I eat it quickly and then realise that the momentary pleasure won't compensate for the extra pounds on my hips. (Whoever coined the phrase 'A moment on the lips, forever on the hips' has a lot to answer for!)
I resolve to do 'better' next time, even though I acknowledge I was doing my best at the time when I made that earlier decision. (Learning, not a cop out!) If I continue to follow this pattern i.e. I choose the cheese and chocolate every time I'm hungry, there will inevitably be consequences. However by consequently reviewing and examining this choice, I remain in a state of learning. So far, so good!
Banking the learning
When, and if, I eventually make the other choice, i.e. the delicious, lovingly-prepared salade or the tasty crunchy vegetable stir-fry, I can truly feel good about myself ~ not just because I know it's better for my body, or even that I made a different choice ~ but because I have spent time thinking about my previous decisions, and decided to 'bank' the learning.
Just supposing I had chosen the healthy option in the first place. Would I have learned as much as I did by choosing the less-healthy one? On the other hand, perhaps I 'banked' the learning some time back and, therefore, found it easier to make the more healthy choice.
Being in a constant state of self love
By accepting the idea that 'I always do my best and my best is always good enough for me', there is no judgement of the Self, no Self-criticism. Rather, we are remaining in a constant state of self-love and self-forgiveness, open and willing to learn through the choices we make.
Of course, the example I chose was a relatively simple one, and there will be far larger and more challenging decisions to be taken throughout our life, but it provides a way of understanding that all choices, no matter how small or how large, are important for our learning and our growth.
My daughter-in-law teaches yoga to very young children. At the end of each session, she has them hug themself and say 'I'm special, not because what I look like, not because what I wear, not because what I have. I'm special just because I am...'
Doesn't it make sense to know that 'I always do my best'?
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