Maya Angelou wrote, “When you know better you do better.” This quote sticks with me. Now that I know better, I do better. There is a disclaimer though. As I do better, that does not mean that I never fall back into old patterns. For me the doing better is recognizing my old patterns faster while taking action to rectify the situation.
I am a runner in every sense of the word. I love to run for exercise and physical health. I now run in the woods on dirt to protect my knees rather than on pavement or concrete which resulted in 2 surgeries over 10 years ago. I know better so I do better. I am also an emotional runner. When I feel unworthy I flee. When I feel that I am a burden I run away. When I interpret a situation to point in a direction that says I am insignificant I shut down emotionally in such a way that I might as well have run away. I have a habit of filling in the gaps of stories in a manner that prove my lack of worthiness, that I am a burden and insignificance without taking a moment to check out the facts of the situation or relationship.
That deep seeded negative belief that I am insignificant is still there, yet it is rarely fed. The belief that I am worthy of love and connection is growing since I consciously chose to feed that belief. The fear of being insignificant will most likely be part of my life for as long as I draw breath into my body. What I do with that belief is where the evidence of growth shows itself to me. I know so much better now because I am doing better.
Just last week I found myself in a situation where the insignificant belief was winning. I quickly filled in the gaps, told myself stories and fumbled my questions. In the heat of the moment my mind heard evidence of my unworthiness and insignificance. My heart whispered, “Take a breath. Pause. Listen.” Well, I certainly listened; unfortunately it was to my panicking mind that was in extreme flight mode. Sleep escaped me. My appetite left as it always does under stress. For the next 5 days I ran the emotional marathon that I have run many times before.
Something incredible happened at the end of the 5th day. I was in the midst of trying to wear my body out after physically running, cleaning the house and attacking the leaves of my yard. Half way through the yard work and leaf slaying, I finally heard the whisper of my heart, “Take a breath. Pause. Listen.” Thoughts of insignificance were finally growing tired and losing power. This was the moment when a loving thought process had the opportunity to be heard, “Maybe you are missing something. Consider reaching out for clarification.”
This thought arrived at the same time surrender met up with Maya Angelou in my heart, “When you know better you do better. Now do better.” I sat in stillness to be sure I heard my heart correctly and then reached out to the friend I ran away from. Guess what? The story I told myself was 95% wrong and the 5% that was right had nothing to do with me being insignificant! Coming back to listen and ask questions when fear and panic are not running the show produced a completely different outcome. It turns out that I am significant, worthy of love and connection. Hot Damn!
In this situation the positive outcome does feel great, yet it is not where the sweetness is. The glory of the moment for me is that I stopped running after just 5 days. That is amazing evidence of growth. Finally, after so many years of hard work to heal my heart, mind and soul, I explode with joy at this improvement. Now, my friend’s mind may still be spinning, but that is okay. I am doing better, because I know better!
Knowing and doing better, finally!