Better than my best

I love The Sound of Music. My oldest child loves The Sound of Music. We’ve watched the movie countless times and played the soundtrack over and over and over. There is much to be enjoyed – In My Humble Opinion – and even much to be learned from the story.

Except for one thing.

As Maria (Julie Andrews) is heading to the Captain’s home, to meet him and his children for the first time, she is nervous. Understandably. So in order to bolster her spirits and self-confidence, she sings “I Have Confidence.” Which is great, except for when she sings, “I’ll do better than my best.”

What exactly is better than our best? And how do we attain it? is it attainable?

As a recovering perfectionist who believed – even when I didn’t realize I believed – that my best wasn’t ever enough, better than my best is a tough concept. A debilitating and potentially derailing concept.

Better than my best. That’s like giving more than 100% effort or running faster than I can run. It’s not really possible. At all. And it sets me up to not only fail but to be frustrated with my effort and accomplishment. It gives me prime opportunity to beat myself up and to get stuck in the self-defeating belief that I’m not enough.

As I’ve written before, it took me a long time to unlearn my not enoughness, and I can still get blindsided by this faulty thinking. It took me many years of repeating the mantra, “I am enough. I have enough. I do enough.” Many years of catching myself in the self-lambasting thinking and actively choosing to think, see, and notice differently. Many years of being willing to try to see the enoughness in all around me and in me before I could let my best be enough. Before I could not have to try to be “better than my best.”

I still think Maria’s message of self-confidence is a powerful and necessary one. I still think many of us need more belief in ourselves and more conviction that we are okay and will be okay, and that we can handle whatever comes our way. I still think that Maria’s looking to the sunshine and rain, to the turning of the seasons and the way nature surrounds and supports us, is a way to find strength when we don’t think we have it and we know we’ll need it.

But I now think that my best is usually quite enough, and I don’t have to try to be better than my best. Or to even think that there is a better than my best.

Even if Maria sang it so well, I’m just going to be my best.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

Categories: Recovery, , , Tags:

4 thoughts on “Better than my best

  1. Great food for thought! I love The Sound of Music but have never really stopped to ponder the deeper meaning behind the lyrics 🙂

    Striving for 110% in any area is a recipe for poor physical/emotional health and burnout. The teen suicide rate in the town where (from the age of 10) I grew up is between 4 and 5 times the national average because this feeling of “I have to excel in everything to be enough” is so pervasive. Glad you have freed yourself from the guilt and self-condemnation!

    1. Thank you Sharon! I’m not saying there are deeper meanings to The Sound of Music, but I guess I look for the deeper meaning in just about everything. 🙂 May we ALL free ourselves from guilt and self-condemnation and the need to be more!!!

  2. I like the mantra, “I am enough. I have enough. I do enough.” I will try it for myself, another recovering perfectionist. 🙂

    1. Hi Ken. Thank you. I offer you my updated version – “I am more than enough. I have more than enough. I do more than enough.” I’ve found it to be even more healing and powerful. Enjoy! We all can recover from this silly perfectionism. (I also offer you – “I am perfect just as I am.”) 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *