Recently, I was speaking with someone about what it’s like to know you’re not doing the things you feel you “should.” We discussed the feeling that another version of you (an old one? A future one?) is looking at you and judging you in your current state, thinking “what are you doing?” I mentioned my own experience of unemployment, the ways that it impacted upon my self-perception. I explained that although it’s hard, sometimes you have to remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can with the resources that you have.
As we thought about that idea, she told me it can be even more daunting to think about it that way. Within the context of not doing what you feel you should, it’s a struggle to see what your best should even look like. You start to doubt yourself. Example: I usually cook proper meals. At a low point (mentally, emotionally and financially) all I had was dried pasta and a jar of pesto. And because I wasn’t feeling great, I didn’t even use those things. So in a sense, I was not “doing my best” even within the confines of limited resources. I wasn’t using those resources at all, but instead wasting them. She told me it can be stressful to think about how you have so many resources but struggle to use them. I had to agree.
What I realised then, at the exact same time as it came out of my mouth, is this: even if you have the material resources (that pesto in the jar, that pasta on the counter), your inner resources might not match them. You might have many things available to you: people to talk to, a safe environment, food on the table (or in this case, in the cupboards). But if you lack the inner resources- motivation, confidence, self-belief- then these material, external resources, quickly start to seem useless. At the same time that this is happening, you may begin getting upset with yourself, for having all this stuff and yet not making use of it.
Yet, in the same way that depression can strike a billionaire, with more material resources than most, you can lack the resources inside yourself to make use of the external resources the way you feel you should. That word again. Should. The truth is that what you “should” do is your best. What I am coming to believe more and more, is that more people are doing their best, every single day, with the resources- both inner and outer- that they have.