“When you know better, you do better”

I do love a quote and the one that resonated with me recently, has been transformational; it made me understand the idea of self-compassion. 

Self-compassion is exactly the same as having compassion for another, but for yourself. The idea that, instead of being self-critical if you feel you’ve fell short or failed, you respond to yourself as you would to a dear friend. You respond with understanding, that perfection isn’t reality, that you’re only human and that you’re doing the best that you can. You respond with kindness. 

That quote is from Maya Angelou, she says, “when you know better, you do better”.

I’ve got quite a talent, as I think so many of us have, for being self-critical…I think society conditions us that way; making us feel we need to change, to do better, to be better, to have more, to be smaller, to look different…the list goes on. I therefore think self-criticism comes far easier than self-compassion. 

When I heard the words “when you know better, you do better” – something clicked. I understood that us lovely humans are more often than not, simply trying our best with the knowledge and experience that we have at the time. 

On many occasions I’ve been hard on myself for the actions I have taken in the past as I can now see that it wasn’t the best, most sensible or most efficient way to get to where I wanted to be. However, what I’ve recently understood, is that I was on the right path for me at that time and that I was trying my absolute best with the knowledge I had on that day.  

For the times that I was convinced that not walking away from stressful work situations was the only way to deal and the best way to demonstrate my worth. With new knowledge, I understand that is exactly the opposite to how I would choose to do things now. Now I know better, I can do better and I know that I was doing what I thought was best at the time.  

For the times that I thought the countless fad diets would make me healthier. With new knowledge, I now understand that intuitive eating is the best for my body. Now I know better, I can do better and I know that I was doing what I thought was best at the time.

I can think of innumerable examples, as I am sure you can too?

We will all learn something new today and then again something else tomorrow and the next day after that. As this happens, we will be able to do better, but that doesn’t mean we should be annoyed that we didn’t get here faster. After all, life is a journey, not a destination. I think we’ve all spent far too much time being hard on ourselves about what we now perceive to be mistakes or shortcomings. Understand that we were simply doing our very best with what we had. 

The point is, I might look at this blog post in 6 months or a year and think…what was I thinking? But that’ll be because I’ll probably have learnt something else and I’ll know better and I won’t beat myself up about it.

Next time you are being hard on yourself or self-critical, ask yourself if you were doing your best – I can bet that you were. Next time you’re judging the way someone else is doing something, consider the fact they are probably trying their absolute best with the knowledge and experience that they have available to them too.

Accept your humanness and know that you are imperfectly perfect.