The Myth of “I Should Have Done Better”

couple-1396319_1920Try a bit of compassion instead.

“When we know better, we do better.” –Maya Angelou

Linda: I’m from the school of thought that we are all doing the best we can with the level of consciousness that we have achieved at any give time. People do all manner of things that hurt other people and that hurt themselves, but it’s because they haven’t yet learned to operate differently. They may not be healed from past emotional wounds. They may be repeating unskillful behaviors they learned from their families. They may not have cultivated strengths such as courage, patience, self-discipline, or patience for instance, that allow them to be successful in relationship and career. And they haven’t yet learned to use the tools of communication and negotiation. But I’m convinced that we are all doing the best we can with what we know.

To believe that people are doing the best they can is a compassionate orientation. It does not mean that we condone actions that cause harm, nor does it mean that people can’t learn and grow. In fact, it is the recognition of the very pain that our choices cause to ourselves and others that can be the catalyst for change.

I believe that those who are harshly judgmental of others, thinking that they should do better, stems from their own perfectionism and lack of compassion for themselves. Some people are full of judgments that they aren’t trying hard enough, that they are somehow lazy and trying to get away with making a less that full hearted effort. Consequently they judge themselves to be slackers. That negativity gets projected onto others, thinking that they should do better too.

When we are living from the belief that “I should do better, and “other people should do better, it sets us up for chronic judgment, resentment, disappointment. It makes our life much more difficult. And yet, there are vast numbers who buy into the belief about “doing better.”

To continue operating from this notion is to continue the process of self-judgment, self-condemnation, and self-blame. Such an orientation is an ineffective attempt to shove ourselves to a higher level with bullying tactics like insults, threats, and punishment. It is a misguided attempt to be responsible, when the truly responsible stance would be to accept our limitations as temporary and focus on what growth needs to take place so that we can actually become able to do better.

It’s important that the growth process be on the friendly, gentle but firm side of the spectrum rather than the shaming, blaming, self-righteous side for it to be most effective. To let go of the threatening style of roughly pushing ourselves requires self-compassion and patience and a sincere commitment to relate to ourselves with kindness while we learn to do better and to become a more evolved version of who we can be.


Linda and Charlie Bloom are excited to announce the release of their third book, Happily Ever After . . . and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams.

Picture1 Praise for Happily Ever After:

“Love experts Linda and Charlie shine a bright light, busting the most common myths about relationships. Using real-life examples, they skillfully, provide effective strategies and tools to create and grow a deeply loving and fulfilling long-term connection.” – Arielle Ford, author of Turn You Mate into Your Soulmate

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Shared by: Linda Bloom, LCSW, & Charlie Bloom, MSW, Contributing Bloggers