Friday, September 24, 2010

The Best Self/Worst Self Scenario

I have one belief about people:  Some people are very, very good; some people are very, very bad; but the rest of us (like, say, 99%) are somewhere in the middle, just trying to do the best we can with what we have and what we know.  This applies to the whole population of the world, and it applies to any group of people that you want to talk about.  Mormons, Muslims, teachers, policemen, moms, dads, you name the group and that description applies.  You want to know why?

Because we're people.  And the same truth applies to us individually -- sometimes we are very, very good; sometimes we are very, very bad; but 99% of the time we are somewhere in the middle.  Some days we're closer to that Best Self and some days we're a whole lot closer to our Worst Self.

On my Best Self days, I...
  • Play with my kids and patiently work with them while they do their "chores," thus helping them become responsible adults and citizens of the world.
  • Have the house respectably clean -- at least enough that I wouldn't die of mortification if someone dropped by.
  • Have a delicious, healthy home-cooked dinner on the table by the time my hubby gets home.
  • Read my scriptures and say my prayers.
  • Exercise.
  • Remember to help the kids call their grandparents and great-grandparents, just to say hello.
  • Fulfill my church callings with 100% diligence and a good attitude.
  • Take dinner to someone in the neighborhood who needs it.
  • Remember that other people are just imperfect human beings like me and give them the benefit of the doubt.
  • Spend wisely and save money where I can.
Sounds perfect, right?  Well, on my worst self days, I...
  • Completely ignore my kids while they watch 17 cartoons in a row because I'm totally engrossed in a project of my own.
  • Blow up at them in a major way when they haven't done their jobs after I've asked them 12,000 TIMES!  Or if they're making noises that annoy me.
  • Leave the house a total wreck because I'd rather dink around on Facebook or blog-hopping.
  • Have Dan pick up a pizza because I'm just not in the mood to cook.
  • Don't think about anyone but myself and the project I'm working on.
  • Spend WAY too much money on craft supplies and other things that aren't necessities.
  • Resent the time that I spend doing church callings and fulfilling other responsibilities.
  • Totally space commitments that I've made, even if I had good intentions.
  • Think negative thoughts about people, even those that I really love.  
  • I stew about stupid things I can't control.
  • Feel needy and underappreciated.
The truth is, there aren't very many days where I'm all one or the other.  It's like a Chinese takeout menu -- choose 2 options from List 1 and 3 from List 2.  I'm nearly always somewhere in the middle of that sliding scale, and I bet you are too.  If you don't believe me, make these lists for yourself and then for the next couple of days, just see how things stack up.

So why does this matter?  Because we take our "worst self" characteristics and put them up against other people's "best self" moments.  And nobody is their best self all the time, but we generally don't update our Facebook status with things like "I was horrible to my kids just now and I feel terrible about it."  We wait until we have something fun, like "Just hanging out with my kiddos at the park enjoying the sunshine!"  I think I actually have said that before.  Was it true?  Absolutely!  But it's also true that sometimes I am horrible to my kids and I do feel terrible about it.  I'm not a perfect mom by any stretch of the imagination, but I do have moments where I'm doing it right.  I know you do, too, in whatever role you fulfill in life.  We are all striving to be our best selves, but don't let that desire oppress and and make you feel inadequate. Give yourself credit for times when you are your best self, and take those worst self moments in stride, knowing that you can learn from them and that everyone else has those moments, too.

Now, one last comment about the best self/worst self scenario.  Don't ever let another person make you feel like your worst self is the REAL you.  Recently I was talking with someone I love about a guy she had just broken up with, a guy who did not deserve her one bit and made her feel like garbage.  As a result she spent a lot more time at that "worst self" end of the spectrum than she ever had before.  She said, "Well, what if that's the real me?"  Someone who makes you feel like the worst version of yourself is the only real version is WRONG, and you deserve to be with someone who believes the best of you and makes you feel like your best self, someone who knows your weaknesses but doesn't define you by them.  After all, that's how you should treat yourself.

P.S.  If you know others who might be uplifted by this post, please feel free to use the buttons below to share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or wherever else you share stuff. :)


  1. Love this post. Truly. You totally described my "Best Day" and "Worst Day" attributes. Hmmm....I am glad I am not the only one! ;)

  2. Awesome insight!! I do this all the time. I compare my worst to your best all the time. I love you Tomi, and appreciate the time and thought you put into your posts.

  3. Thanks for this post today....I needed it!!

    Amy ♥

  4. It seems like I'm totally a mix, with a lot of my worst self coming out around bedtime. A lot of yelling from me trying to get kids in bed results in me crying as I go to bed, feeling guilty for how horrible I was. I tend to remember the bad more often since it is right at the end. It's hard to reflect on how nice a day might have started out when it ends poorly.

    But it's always good to try and recommit to do better the next day. Thanks for your insight! Keep 'em coming!! Halaulani

  5. Just a reminder from someone with grown kids or at least much older than yours,( 25, 23 and 15). On the days you feel you are your worst self you are also helping your kids become independent and self sufficient. Moms need time to themselves and it is not at the cost of leaving kids on their own. they are learning that, although they ARE the center of your life, that they are NOT always the center of your attention. NOT a bad thing. Had I not been a worse version of myself my kids would not have learned how to cook, iron their own clothes, entertain themselves, blah, blah blah.....

  6. Love your perspective Tomi! You really hit the nail on the head! Thank you!

  7. are you living my life? this is freaky! EXCEPT I'm without the awesome insight. :) Love you!

  8. Tomi, very true, very uplifting post. Thank you for spreading this message.

    I do disagree with pizza being on the "worst self" scenario side. I'd say that makes you a pretty rockin' mom. Ain't a problem in the world that pizza can't solve.

  9. Thank you! How insightful you are! Would it be okay if I quoted you in my upcoming Relief Society lesson?

  10. Wow, Erin -- that is a huge compliment. Any way we can help get this message out and help our sisters is fine by me! Thank you!


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