You Are Doing the Best You Can!

April 24, 2013 Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Recognizing that you are doing the best you can is at the core of mindfulness and building self-esteem. Learn how to accept you are doing the best you can.

As I write this post, I am attempting to manage a hectic work week. I am in the middle of a 45-hour intensive training, seeing clients, answering emails, and maintaining some of my social life. Is this going as planned? Hardly, but I am accepting that I am doing the best I can. This statement, or the willingness to accept that in the moment you are doing what works to be effective, given the circumstances, is a key component to maintaining a positive relationship with yourself. Beating yourself up, focusing on the “shoulds” or past and not accepting that you are trying, leads to unhealthy and low self-esteem.

Accept—then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it . . . This will miraculously transform your whole life. — Eckhart Tolle

Thinking "I'm Doing the Best I Can"

Maria is on a diet and traveling for work. As she waits at the airport, she feels her stomach growling. She was in such a rush this morning that she forgot to pack a healthy snack. As she scours the food court full of decadent, calorie-laden options, she settles on something a bit more caloric than she would have Learn how to accept that you are doing the best you canat home. She is aware of her empty belly and recognizes that she has a 6 hour flight ahead; so she tries to find something that will keep her from making a poor choice later. Given the circumstances and her hunger level, which are vulnerability factors, she accepts she is trying. Rather than focusing on the emerging negative thoughts - “If I only remembered to grab my snack” or “I can’t believe I forgot it, I am so stupid.” - she reminds herself she is doing the best she can.

Accepting You Are Doing the Best You Can

Giving in to negative thoughts about our choices or ourselves can be demeaning and ineffective. No one can change the moment, and sometimes the moment sucks. Awareness of your feelings and allowing yourself to have them is natural. However, letting those feelings drag you down is a huge hit on the path to building self-esteem.

Life’s messy and unpredictable. You don’t have to like every moment of it or every circumstance you find yourself in. However, by being willing to accept that you can’t change the moment, you are adding to your growth and level of self-acceptance.

The key word here is acceptance; it allows you to become a more effective problem solver for the future. For Maria, she had the urge to get angry with herself for skipping the salad and eating a more satisfying meal. After turning her mind back to the notion that, given the circumstances, she was doing the best she could and temporarily accepting it, she was able to calm herself down and look up healthy restaurants in the area of her hotel. She began planning ahead and felt confident about her next few days and maintaining her diet. If she went down the path of berating herself, she may not have come up with this plan.

Practice Being Non-Judgmental

The thoughts “it is what it is” or “I am doing the best I can”, are essentially nonjudgmental, some may say mindful. By bringing awareness to the moment, you are able to observe and inhabit the moment with more precision. Contrast that with clouding your head with negative thinking. This takes a willingness to slow down, to connect with the now. It sometimes feels impossible, however with practice you can begin to notice your thoughts and feelings taking over.

  • Start small, accepting little blunders throughout the day without too much judgment of yourself or others
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Remember no one is perfect
  • The past is the past, it happened, and sometimes this is painful
  • Tomorrow is an opportunity to try again, so is two minutes from now
  • Notice when your mind shifts to “should”, “could”, “would” thoughts, accept them and try to let them go.
  • Write “It is what it is” or “I am doing the best I can” on a mirror or sticky note to remind yourself.
  • If you have the urge to problem solve when you are judgmental of yourself or find yourself too emotional, take a 30 second breathing break and focus on your breath or an object. For just a short amount of time, shifting your focus from your thoughts can help you become more mindful and in the moment.

Take Good Care.

Emily is the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are.You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

APA Reference
Roberts, E. (2013, April 24). You Are Doing the Best You Can!, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, June 25 from

Author: Emily Roberts MA, LPC

Emily is a psychotherapist, she is intensively trained in DBT, she the author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Being Who You Are. You can visit Emily’s Guidance Girl website. You can also find her on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dr. Robert Jason
May, 1 2013 at 6:44 am

How many of us are more generous with our compliments to other than we are to ourselves? How many mothers put their family’s needs first, to the extent that they let themselves go, or forget who they are as individuals? The answer: unfortunately, a lot. It’s difficult to juggle numerous obligations–between taking care of work, the home, the man, the children, there’s seemingly little time to nurture ourselves.
Think for a moment—when a woman is happy and fulfilled (as a function of taking care of herself!), is she more or less able to give to her family? Making time to take care of you will enhance your capability to take care of your loved ones and your many responsibilities. Consider the emergency plan on an airplane. Taking care of yourself is like putting on your oxygen mask first, and then taking care of your children and those around you.
So, make time for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes on extra busy days. Do something you enjoy that rejuvenates you, that helps you feel good about yourself, or energizes you. Take a few minutes to enjoy a favorite activity (e.g., a hobby, read a good book), take care of your body (e.g., exercise, take a bath, eat something healthy and delicious), or whatever you need to rejuvenate. Take a moment to consider everything positive about you and express gratitude for wonderful things in your life. Lastly, just notice, observe the difference in how you feel when you do and when you don’t make time for yourself. You’ll be surprised how much better you feel when you do! Just a little love for yourself will make a big difference!

May, 10 2013 at 9:26 am

I Agreed with you

May, 15 2013 at 6:31 am

As a therapist and single mother, I can relate to this post! I often find myself trying to get a thousand things done in one day and can get frustrated when at the end of my day, I still have not completed all that is on my to do list. Then I remind myself of a wonderful book called "The Four Agreements"! In it it states that no matter what you set out to do, as long as you do your very best, there is no room for self judgement or criticism. My best will look different from day to day. Somedays I can operate at 80% and others 30%. Some days I operate at 100%. As long as I know I did my very best, there is no room for judgement and feelings of low self esteem.

carmen a. crochet
May, 9 2014 at 12:33 pm

I have always taken care of others always feeling unappreciated for my efforts. anytime i tried to do anything to take care of myself i was labeled as selfish.I tried to get all my grown children togethe_hat they need to do for themselves . Iam in limbo because of disabilities both physical and mental babysitting my beautiful active 2yr. old grandson while my daughter works. Cleaning house myself because no one cleans it to my specifications and refuse to do it as i ask I pay the rent but it does not feel like my home

carmen a. crochet
May, 9 2014 at 12:43 pm

I have tried everthing to make her undetstand the reasons why this won't work but she takes it as i don't want to help her and blasts me on facebook i would love to be physically capable of doing this for her. I would love nothing better than caring for my grandson i just can't. keep up with him.

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