Maggie is a caring, super smart woman in her early 30’s. We had been working together for several months and as we talked via Skype, she shared that sometimes, it felt like a major drain to always be there for her friends.
Maggie is the go-to friend. She’s not the one you call for a night out on the town.
She’s the one you call when you break-up with your boyfriend, have a terrible interaction with a strained family member, or can’t get out of a personal funk.
Maggie said there was little reciprocity from her friends, and after a long week at work, she didn’t always want to give more of herself, but also didn’t want to let anyone down. After all, they needed her and she did care about her friends.
As Maggie shared her experiences, she sighed several times and her face went from a smile to one that was tense and tired.
Maggie said, “I don’t know. I’m just doing my best.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I said. “When you do your best, how do you feel afterward?”
Without missing a beat, Maggie chimed, “Overextended. Exhausted. And miserable.”
The problem wasn’t Maggie’s friends suckling at her teat; it was the definition of doing her best.
We’re told to always do our best. If you don’t do your best, you will likely fail, let others down, and let yourself down.
What. A. Loser.
But the quest for doing our best is too often driven by striving, perfection, and plowing through. If this is how your best manifests itself, it is time to change the definition of your best to support your well-being, instead of your suffering.
Do you really want to practice over-efforting to the point of exhaustion as proof of doing your best?
When you do your best, how do you feel afterward?
Do you feel tired, depleted, or like it will never be good enough? (hint: this is NOT your best)
Or, when you do your best, do you feel restored, satisfied, and at peace? (hint: this IS your best)
If you are consistently depleted after doing your best, it’s time to redefine what your best means.
Switch the definition of doing your best from self-sacrifice and perfection to a working definition that offers kindness and gentleness to yourself.
Meditation teacher Tara Brach says, “The revolutionary act of treating ourselves tenderly can begin to undo the aversive messages of a lifetime.”
Be relentless with yourself, and your best will unfold with disconnection, misery, and exhaustion.
Be gentle with yourself, and your best unfold with compassion, grace, and sustainability.
Which do you prefer? Friend, maybe it is time to change the definition of your best.
Angela Savitri is a Freedom from Chronic Stress Coach and helps professional women be free of burnout and chronic stress. She healed her own chronic stress crisis while still working in a corporate environment and now helps high-achieving women lead unburdened and content lives, even with a demanding career. Receive your free audio training, ‘3 Secrets to Self-Care Without Feeling Guilty,’ atwww.freedomfromchronicstress.com.