These words are the last of the four agreements Don Miguel Ruiz discusses in this book The Four Agreements. Sounds simple right; just do your best! This is what I tell my students all the time. I remind those I am journeying with of this all the time. This past week I had to remind myself that I was doing my best. One of the things about doing your best is recognizing that your best varies from moment to moment. My best when I was not journeying with Zoë through her diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer has been different then before this was a part of our journey together. My best when I was not trying to advocate for the restoration of my para transit services is quite different then now that I am. Last week and this past weekend as we were preparing for Zoë’s surgery and the unknowns about what she would and would not be able to do afterwards consumed quite a bit of my time and energy. There were moments when I found myself listening to my Inner Judge who was telling me things like “You are not working hard enough.” “You should have gotten your blog written.” “You should have posted your events on Facebook.” It was this voice in my head that was sitting in judgment of me for all the things I was not doing and at some level thought I should have been doing and probably normally would have done.
I thought that I had fired that Inner Judge a long time ago, however, this past few weeks I have found that voice coming back. I had to remind the Inner Judge she no longer had a voice in my life. I was doing my best and that was all that mattered. I had to remind myself that all that mattered was that I was doing my best. Was it the same as my best at another point and time in my life? No. However, it was still my best. Did it matter if others thought I was doing my best? No. That was about them, not about me. It could only become about me if I made it about me.
One of the things I came to realize is that often times; I am a harsher critic of myself then others. For example, after having not graded posts and papers from my two online classes for a few days, I could hear the Inner Judge telling me how unfair I was being to my students by not giving them prompt feedback on their work. My affirmation to myself was “you are doing your best; that is all that matters. My message to the Inner Judge – you are fired! Please do not return to this spirit or you will be escorted out of my mind. The funny thing is that my students were the ones who said “Are you serious Dr J, sometimes we wait 2-3 weeks to get back a scantron test, your turn around is so quick and you always get right back to us.” When we assume that others do not think we are doing our best, we are doing all a disservice, others and ourselves.
The other thing I have come to realize about doing your best is that it involves action. While you might not perform or be as efficient in some situations as you are as others, that you are doing YOUR best means that you are not just sitting there doing nothing – you are doing your best. Sometimes I have heard folks say, well next time I will do better. However, I have come to understand that if I am doing my best, then it does not get any better then that. For some of my students doing their best may earn them a C on a paper, but that is their best. For others, doing their best may earn them an A on a paper, but that is their best. What matters is that we know that no matter what we are doing, we are doing our best.
So do your best, not mine or somebody else’s view of what your best should be, but do YOUR best. When you do you are effectively telling the Inner Judge they are no longer needed in your life. They are fired! They have been replaced by the voice of affirmation and love which applauds you for always doing your best. So starting today – do your best.