“We are all doing the best we can, with the knowledge and tools we have.”
I can’t quite remember where or when I heard this saying, but it has helped me so much since I stumbled across it many years ago. When I reflect on how I show up as mother, the choices I made in my 20s, my role as a partner in relationships. The list is endless.
How often are we caught up, time travelling back to the past. More likely than not hoping, wishing or even beating ourselves up over why we did or said something.
This is a loop I am familiar with; perhaps you are too? Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Of course knowing what I know now, there are so many things I would have done differently. Done that exchange to Sweden back in uni – yes. Spoken up sooner and left that crappy relationship – yes. Asked for help when my daughter was a baby and it all seemed too much – yes. Used my voice and spoken the truth more often – BIG yes to this.
But no matter how much time we spend thinking about it, we can never go back and change it. The past will always be that – the past. It is so easy to get caught up in that cycle of rumination and criticise ourselves, isn’t it? Our heads can become consumed with the ‘shoulds’ and the ‘whys’.
This is where reminding myself that ‘I was doing the best I could, with the knowledge and tools I had at that time,’ helps me SO much.
It brings me back to a place of acceptance, understanding and compassion for myself. I hear my inner dialogue change and come from a place of kindness…
‘At that point in time I didn’t know what I know now.’
‘I didn’t have the same level of understanding about myself and the world around me.’
‘It’s not fair to judge myself on that.’
If I only knew that using my voice and expressing what I need from people and actually speaking my truth would have brought me closer to others, built more connection and strengthened my relationships. Would I have done that sooner in relationships – absobloodylutely!! No question. But I didn’t have that knowledge, I hadn’t seen that growing up, seen it modelled and therefore I hadn’t taken it onboard as part of my skill set.
So does this mean that we can then throw our hands in the air and be all woe is me for that? No! Our parents and other influencers were doing the best they could too!
I found that when I started to build an awareness of myself, look at patterns in my behaviour and start to look at my past and events that had happened as an opportunity for learning, things in my life started to shift.
We can look back and think about the lessons we have to learn from choices we made or situations we found ourselves in. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. If we use this lens, then we are always evolving and growing.
So don’t be hard on yourself; don’t get caught up in the stories of the ghosts of the past. The same is true for when we judge others for how they act and behave both now and in the past. But that’s a conversation for another day! So offer yourself and others that compassion and kindness. But then move to a place of curiosity and growth.
Just remember: we are all doing the best we can.