When we say to others (or even ourselves), “I did my best.” Do we really, truly, in our hearts believe that? Even though you may know that your best differs every day for different reasons, you might unwittingly demand that you do better than your best efforts.
When we think of our best, we should also try and consider that it means our best realistic effort (BRE). BRE means that you’re doing the best you can and are doing it in a flowing focused effort. It is also possible that you aren’t really finding your flow to do your best. There’s some subtlety to think of and take into account about your BRE.
How to find your BRE?
The first part of realizing and embracing your BRE is to do a self-assessment. Are you the type of person who is more inclined to try extra hard with everything? Are you someone who struggles with specific tasks or responsibilities because you’re a perfectionist or on the spectrum? Or are you someone who is not too disciplined and are not really focused on doing what you can realistically in a natural way.?
As you read this blog post, take a moment to think about which of the following three you might closest identify with.
If your past patterns show that you try extra hard, then you’re going to want to put your attention on concentrating with greater ease, as much as possible.
If you play fast and loose with discipline, then you must give extra attention to concentration and perseverance.
Similarly, if you need help or adjustments to focus and make your best realistic effort, recognizing that need is a great first step.
Why is it profound and helpful to think of our Best Realistic Effort?
When we give our best effort and are realistic about it, our energy is balanced and flowing. This helps us do more of what we want to, without adding pressure on ourselves. The sweet spot is that balance, flowing state of focus.
Practicing and recognizing your BRE helps us maximize our connection to ourselves, others, and whatever is our current priority. When we understand this, we unlock the potential of joy, peace, and fulfillment. This is because now, we know that we have nothing extra to give that’s not natural unless we’re holding irrational, unrealistic standards. This, in essence, brings us toward a sense of completion.
How can we make our best realistic effort?
Remember how I said that we might unwittingly demand more than our best efforts? That could happen if you don’t realize the pressure or expectation you’re placing on yourself (or even others).
Can you instead find the motivation or intention to balance this? To develop a new groove in your mind that says with increasing sensitivity, “I am very satisfied with your best efforts and even am proud of you in spite of the unrealistic feelings that want more.”
For those of us who are undisciplined or unfocused, we would do well to give ourselves a gentle and strong reminder like, “I am focusing on being disciplined and focused as I start each important action, thought, attitude or communication.”
After the intended area of focus, follow that with a double-check — “Did I succeed with my intention and effort?” If you’re satisfied that the answer is yes, it’s essential to affirm yourself with a statement like, “I am deeply satisfied with my current best effort with as much heart and wisdom as I can muster.”
Focus on BRE, not results
Whenever I ask my clients or friends how they would do better than their best efforts, I usually get a laugh. This absurdity is often a wake-up call through a smile or laughter.
I’ll tell you what I often say to them. “Can you try with your greatest wisdom and love and say a prayer to yourself such as ‘May I make my best efforts and be increasingly content with that instead of insisting on results that I can’t control.'”
Most of us focus on the results, which are frequently out of our control. However, the truly sacred or essential part is the process of our BRE and applying this understanding to as many aspects of our life as possible.
I know so many people who make these best efforts and still think they should be doing better. If you’re similar to them, I hope you can see that the criticism and comparison you make yourself go through is false self-doubt. It’s a sign of your ideals taking over what is truly your best. Each of us needs to not shit on our best. This is sacred.
To stop wounding ourselves, we need to ask, “Am I bringing my best realistic effort?” If we judge and doubt ourselves without a real reason, we need to develop an inner protector of the actual truth.
Our BRE is the root of our souls, and we need to place more trust in it than our ungrounded judgments that are, more often than not, connected to childhood wounds and unreachable standards in a futile effort to compensate for them.
Of course, there is also the opposite where you over-validate yourself and are too easily satisfied with the partial effort. Almost all of us know whether we are in that sweet spot, putting excessive unrealistic pressure, or are a bit half-hearted in any given area.
Suppose you see an area of your life that has importance, and you see that you’re half-hearted or giving less than a total natural effort. In that case, you want to stay in a relationship with yourself and say something like, (with sincerity, strength and sensitivity) “Come on, let’s do it again and learn from this to not take these moments for granted.”
The relationship between our BRE and Spirituality
When you combine awareness, humility, courage, discipline, heart, and the wisdom you can reach and your best efforts to care for yourself and others, it’s the central point of most religions and spiritual practices.
You’re tapping into your own best heart and wisdom, not someone else’s. It’s often not as appealing to the ego but delights the soul or essential core of ourselves.
Understanding and exploring your BRE gives you a renewed perspective on your life. With BRE, you treat both the small and large things as if they matter because they do.
When I was in my mid-20s, I created a piece of art with two colors adjacent to each other, saying, “Never judge your best.” It gave me goosebumps every time I looked at it and applied it to my life. It allowed me to focus on my best as being good enough forever, not just for me but for everyone. This, of course, assumes that the intent is pure and is never going to injure anyone unnecessarily.
For decades now, I’ve maintained that I have more faith in best realistic efforts than I do in religion when it is founded in our wisdom and heart. It reduces the pressure on the outcome and paradoxically will lead to the best outcome possible. How could it not, especially when you realize you are in a relationship with yourself with honesty and it lowers performance anxiety? When you focus on BRE, not on the outcome, you are riveted to give it your natural all.
This focus doesn’t come from an egotistical place as you aren’t competing with anyone and not even yourself. Yes, you’re tapping into your potential, but the only comparison you might make is that you’re in the natural zone that encourages you to keep in the moment and doing what you can realistically do with your keenest focus.
I’ve often thought if I were to ask the more traditional God as he/she is viewed what more they would ever expect from me, all I hear repeatedly is that I am loved as I am true to my BRE. I hope that this unity is understood no matter what your beliefs are. Personally, I don’t believe that God needs validation but wants us to emulate the essence and purity of spirit. This, of course, can only be translated into our best effort to be a like-minded, hearted and wise representatives. I don’t think we’re being asked to be anything less or more. Ah, that sweet middle.
One of the most significant benefits of this middle way of BRE is that it lessens both the perfectionistic superego and the ego that isn’t focused, sensitive and disciplined in a natural way. Part of this beauty is that everything and every aspect of our lives matters, and so does how we intersect with those around us. Ageing can be a benefit as it can deepen our wisdom and help us make our BREs even with lowered capacity and learn from our past experience. We can still be deeply satisfied because we have developed a non-comparative discernment as we have deepened our practice.
It doesn’t matter if it is on the golf course, relationships of all kinds, work, politics, or business. What matters most is that we care in this sweet spot for ourselves and expand this encouragement to others as wells. We also need to expand our focus and dedication to making our best efforts because the world needs us to band together with this common interest and reach a universal place that is both personal and inclusive. Our efforts as we evolve will naturally expand into greater and greater consideration of everyone that could be affected by the tiniest and largest thoughts, actions, and attitudes.