You’re Always Doing Your Best


“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.”
— Maya Angelou

I’m always doing the best I can.

And so are you.

Can you see that? Do you believe it to be true? Or is this merely an apologist’s charter for the chaos and carnage of the world?

Note, I didn’t say you’re always doing what’s best. I didn’t say you don’t make mistakes. I didn’t say you can abdicate responsibility for your life or the actions you take.

This is not a get of jail free card.

It’s just the liberating truth.

It’s just not possible for you to NOT be doing what you know best to do in this moment.

This goes for parents, who lose it with their children. This goes for cheating partners. This goes for drama queens and perpetual victims.

This goes for absolutely anything a human being can do.

Think of the most heinous human act. Rape. Torture. Murder. Or how about slavery. How about child abuse. Acts of genocide. Acts of terrorism. Or rampant corporate greed on a global scale.

All coing from a place of doing what they know best to do.

Of course, you probably would argue, “They should know better!” You might even believe that they do know better, they do.

And I would say to you, simply, when they know better they do better.

Let’s keep this real. Let’s stop pointing the finger outwards, as is the easy tendency, and let’s point inwards. Let’s look at you. You ain’t perfect after all.

Let’s look at you.

Let’s remember a time when your behaviour was less than you’d expect of yourself.

Lete’s remember, briefly of course, a time you feel ashamed of?

And let’s ask this rather pointed question: WHY DID YOU DO IT? Why did you behave so shamefully, so out of character?

(Have a think. Pause for a moment. I’ll wait… This is important for what I’m trying to get you to see. Have a think. Pause for a moment. I’ll wait…)

Why did you do it?
(Cheating. Nastiness. Carelessness. Thoughtlessness. Hurtfulness… Murder. Rape. Abuse.)
Why did you do it?

I’ll help you out here. Because I know why you did it, and why you’ll do it again.

You did it because:

  • You were angry
  • They deserved it
  • You didn’t know you were doing it
  • You lost yourself for a mad moment
  • You didn’t think anyone would find out

Or, you did it, because – consciously, or otherwise – it made sense for you to do it at the time.

It made sense to you. It might not make sense to you later (it might go quite contrary to your thoughts of who you think you are). But it made sense to you in that moment.

So I’m not talking about what you thought afterwards. The justifications. The self-recriminations. The “I’ll never do it again” protestations. (Even though this act of denial is also you doing your best at the time.)

I’m talking about the thoughts in your head, in that moment, that made most sense to you.

You are a thinking machine par excellence, and you’re quite literally programmed, computer-like almost, to make the best of what you think.

Thought goes in. Thought is evaluated, in the moment. Action comes out.

Repeat forever.

(Scary huh! Can you see why ‘being yourself’ is rather more ‘devil is in the detail’ than at first appears.)


Let’s examine this ‘doing your best’ premise I’m sharing here, this conceit.

Question: Why would you ever NOT do your best?

Provocation? You were in a bad mood. A temporary madness.

Well, in those moments, your best became less – but it was still your best in the moment.

Okay, so let’s say you’re in a dilemma. There are 3 choices you can see. One of which is a best choice. One of which is a worst choice. And one of which is a compromise choice.

You knew the best course of action to take (a loving action) but chose differently anyway (a fearful action) – you chose the compromise choice.

“Hah, I didn’t do your best”, you’re now thinking. (Am I right? Are you thinking that?)

Fact is, though, you did your best, again. In the moment in question. In that moment, the BEST choice wasn’t an option and neither was the WORST choice. The only choice was COMPROMISE – this was the best choice.

(Of course a different moment and you might make a different, better or worse, choice. Of course. This isn’t about you, this is about you in the moment, doing what’s best in that same moment.)


This is not about excuses, as I’ve already said.

And it’s not about painting you out as some ‘thoughtless act’ monster, because – as I’ve written elsewhere – you are also a wonderful, wise and loving human being, by default.

There is a liberation in seeing this for yourself. That you’re doing your best. And you can’t do anything other than that.

There’s a liberation.

It takes the pressure off.

You stop thinking quite so much.

You may even learn to do better. To trust yourself, more. To listen inwards.

You’re always doing your best.

You might not like what your best looks like, sometimes, granted. What it says about you. What it ‘means’. It’s still just doing your best.

You might want to pretend otherwise – that this is NOT you doing your best, that you CAN do better.

Of course you can do better, of course you do do better. You just didn’t, in that moment.

As for pretending… That’s okay, too. It’s just doing what makes sense. Until it stops making sense. Until pretending to be someone you’re not all the time just seems daft to you.

You’re always doing your best.

Even thinking you are your thoughts, you are what’s happened to you, you are who you say you are. Even believing you are someone you are not. Even that – is you doing your best.

Whichever way you turn. However way it goes. Whatever way it looks.

You’re always doing your best.

Even believing that this is nonsense, here, what I’m sharing, is you doing your best. (And my (perhaps feeble) attempts at showing you it’s true are me doing my best.)

You’re always doing your best. And so am I.

Which means you couldn’t have done any differently at the time.

You couldn’t. Have done. Any differently. At the time.

Which means…

Honestly, I don’t know what that means.


Free will? What IS free will? You tell me what ‘free will’ means and I’ll tell you if it’s possible.

I think of free will as individuality. Think it of as you being different to me. Of you being able to take different actions to me, to think and look and behave differently.

But you are you. And you can’t behave any differently than you know how to. You are free to behave as your character. You are free to know better and do better, too. And you do. You just don’t choose when it happens. And you certainly don’t choose what you think.


I just know it’s true. Of me. Of you. Of Everyone.

Maybe you don’t find this truth useful.

Maybe you’ll choose to forget it as quickly as you forget someone’s name at a party.

Or maybe you’ll let it simmer inside of you, let the alchemical juices do their thing.

How you choose to use this information then, if you’ll dare to explore the possibility of its truth, is up to you.

Kind of.

You don’t reallly have any choice in the matter. You’ll do what you do with it. Until you learn to do something different.

And how do you learn to do something different, how does your character change?

You see something new. Something new starts to make sense to you. You know better, you just do.

Maybe because you’re reading this. Maybe because your friend doesn’t get bothered about the things that bother you. Maybe because you know, deep down, there is a better way.

Your journey of knowing better is ongoing.

But, wherever you find yourself on that journey, whatever you do – you’ll always, ALWAYS be doing your best.

Because that’s what you do. Your best. As you.

Agree with what I’ve shared here? Disagree? Still got questions? Then please leave a comment. 🙂