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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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