THE LISTENING SEED
What do you do if you know you could be doing better— better at being you, expressing yourself more authentically, being true to you, living your life more fully— but despite all your desires, you are still not doing it?
This is a question I am asking right now.
Like, right now. I’m asking it here, right at the start of this article.
So here I am page, give me the answer. I’m ready.
Well, Brea, the answer is clear:
Hm. Somehow that’s not quite helpful. I was looking for something more concrete. Maybe a set of steps I can take to get to where I can begin to “do better.”
Ok. A set of steps:
Three Steps to Instantly Start Doing Better
Um, ok. Do I need to do this, like, right now?
Yes. Right now. Unless you want to keep not doing it. Then wait. Hold off on deciding. Tell yourself you’ll write on that silly piece of paper later. See what happens.
Oh. Right. That’s why I keep mentally beating myself up, huh. Because I know what I need to be doing in order to be “doing better.” I know I need to make time for it. But I don’t. So I get angry with myself. I criticize myself for it. And I end up feeling worthless and weak, with no energy left to actually do those things that will make me feel like I’m being a better me.
Ok. Here I go. I’m doing it. Let me get my piece of paper.
(Hey, you reading this, you might want to do this, too, otherwise we’re both going to be stuck in that old dance… and yes, I’m assuming there are things you’ve been putting off that you know will be good for you, but you have not put into practice.)
Ok I’m back. I did it. I didn’t know what to do with the paper, so I put it somewhere I knew I would see it every day.
I feel oddly better. Like I totally trust that now I am doing better. As if the words I wrote were empty as I wrote them, but upon re-reading them they became truth.
I thought it would be more complicated than that.
Look. The reason it’s so simple is because it’s not complicated. Your thoughts want to make it harder than it is. The more you think about how much you could be doing better, the more you feel you aren’t.
The truth of the matter is, you are doing the best you can, all the time. If you could see yourself from outside yourself, from the perspective of someone who absolutely, 100 percent, unconditionally loves you, you would think you were doing awesome, all the time, no matter what.
Yes, sometimes you do have the potential to do “better” than you do. Sometimes you don’t challenge yourself in ways you would benefit by. Sometimes you let fear get in the way of experiencing something valuable, life-changing, or just plain fun.
That doesn’t mean you aren’t doing a good job being you. It doesn’t mean you’re not expressing yourself, not being true to you, or not living your life fully. It just means you have an opportunity to do it differently next time.
Without that “I can do better than this” feeling, you would get pretty bored, pretty quick. Imagine a life in which you never felt called to do something different, something more, or something new.
Don’t let that “I can do better than this” feeling make you think you’re not doing it right; that feeling is the very essence of what keeps life going!
If you always felt like you had mastered every single aspect of being you, you would never feel the urge to seek new ways to grow.
Life purposefully sends us down roads that give us epic landscapes that delight and surprise us. It also throws in plenty of wrong turns, mud pits, and cranky travel companions.
Life gives you ways to say, “Yes, please, I’ll have more of that,” and also, “No, thank you, that’s not what I like,” and both are valuable.
All those No thank you’s aren’t presented on your path in order to turn your smile upside down (or eff-up your sh*t). They’re given to you so you can know more clearly what you really do want.
So when you feel like you’re not doing as good of a job at life as you could be, take that as another sign post on the road. Do you like feeling the way you feel when you do life that way?
Oh, no? Well then, you’re in luck, because you’re at another intersection. Camino Paradiso, on your right. You have the choice to make that turn! Decide to take it and find out where it leads.
Not ready yet? Perfectly fine, you’ll get another turn-off down the road soon enough— Better Street, Next Exit.
Photograph by Brea Fisher
I am going to get vulnerable with y’all for a minute.
I almost didn’t write this week’s article. I thought I might just skip it and do one next week instead. I just didn’t feel up to it. I’ve been sick with three different ailments during the past three weeks, which I feel embarrassed about and frustrated by. I was feeling like a failure, a fraud, a hack. I didn’t know what to write about. I thought y’all wouldn’t care either way. Maybe you wouldn’t notice if I missed this week and slipped one in next week.
And then I imagined how I would feel if I didn’t write the article. It didn’t feel better; it felt worse. Writing these bi-weekly articles are a commitment that helps me feel like I am being the best me I can be. It is a dedication I take seriously, not only because I promised y’all I would do it, but because I made that promise to myself.
Consistently showing up, even when times are tough, is part of what gives me the feeling that I am doing what I need to do to do the best I can.
Which brings us to the fourth step in How to Instantly Start Doing Better.
When you decide to commit more fully to You, you begin to see the ways in which you’re already in a habit of being fully You, right now.
In other words, when you decide You Are Now Doing Better, you remember all the things you’re already doing that count toward you Being Better.
Because what you’re really getting by your decision to do better is a shift in perspective. You’re not broken, lazy, or stupid. You don’t need a kick in the pants, or to sit in the corner. All you need is a little confidence that you’re doing fine, and you have every opportunity to make the changes necessary to do even finer when you’re ready.
What do you have going on in your life right now that you wish you were doing differently, more, less, better?
If you didn’t do the Three Steps to Instantly Start Doing Better, get ready, because that is your challenge.
Here they are for your review:
And one more thing.
4. Notice at least one way you really have been “better” all along. Something you’re already doing that your inner critic conveniently skims over every time you get down on yourself for not doing the other things you “should” be doing.
Now check in with yourself. How do you feel after making this decision?
Make a mental (or physical) note to check in with yourself tomorrow. I wrote this a day ago and I’m now in tomorrow land. For me, I have already noticed myself doing little things (that feel like big things) that I’ve been putting off for a long time.
I am now doing better!
It’s crazy how simple and effective those steps are. You gotta try it!
There will always be things you can do to be more healthy, gain more experience, or broaden your world. Don’t let the fact that you haven’t done them yet get you down on yourself.
The fact that you’re wanting to do better means you’re alive— and that desire is what keeps this Life thing rolling.
So here’s to doing even better than the best you are already being!
Thanks for reading. I really do want to know if this is something you can relate to. Do you have things you keep telling yourself you should be doing? Maybe you want to start running again, or start a meditation practice, or stop eating sugar. Have you been beating yourself for not starting or stopping those things? Please share with me below. I’ll be your witness like you have been for me. I bet you I’m not the only one who could use the moral support right now. All this stuff is human, and we’re in this boat together.
And just one more thing. If you know someone who might be doing this human "I should be better" thing, please do them, and me a huge service by sharing this article with them. Thank you!