The "Reasonable Best Test" of Self-worth transcript
Today I offer you one the most effective and consistent strens to help you become your own lifelong best friend and free yourself from dependency on dictators. Apply what I call the reasonable best test: in any situation simply recognize when you’re doing your reasonable best and endorse yourself for doing so. You will create and maintain positive feelings about yourself.
What is the reasonable best test?
Most people evaluate their self-worth by the “outcome” of what they do. The reasonable best test is an “input” measure of self-worth. It emphasizes your efforts, not the results of your efforts.
In every situation in which you’re trying to achieve a goal, you only have control of your input. The outcome is usually influenced by many factors that you can do little or nothing about. Unless you’re a magician, it’s unrealistic to expect that you can control the outcome of what you or others do. Yet most people have been taught since childhood to regulate their feelings about themselves by asking themselves the inappropriate outcome question, “Did it work out O.K.?” As a child, you didn’t have the mental resources to apply the reasonable best test. You had no choice but to be dependent on others for your self-worth.
Do you still depend on the outcome of your efforts as the primary measure of your self-worth? Consider these outcome measures that create a positive or negative emotional response:
I’m OK if:
My efforts worked out
They accept me
I got an “A”
He/she loves me
My salary is increased
The audience applauds
They think I’m attractive
I own a ______
The kids do well
I didn’t make a mistake
You’re utilizing healthy, realistic criteria to create positive feelings about yourself whenever you answer, “Yes,” to the question, “Am I doing my reasonable best?” even if you don’t attain the outcome you desire! Yes, there may be necessary hurt and trauma because of the outcome. We can almost never control the consequences of events, but we can control how we deal with them. We worsen and sustain the effect of an undesired outcome by attacking our self-esteem. We often become our own worst enemy. The above is worthwhile reviewing a number of times; what follows will help clarify the key aspects of the reasonable best test.
But isn’t it only natural to feel bad when things don’t work out?
Of course! Most people feel appropriately disappointed, sad, or hurt when the outcome of their efforts doesn’t work out the way they had hoped. Maybe you didn’t get back the love you so desired from that special someone. Or you didn’t get that raise. In fact, you just lost your job after years of dedication to the same company. Or you recently discovered that your son is involved with drugs and is “hanging out” with friends that you consider undesirable.
It’s appropriate to experience discomfort and diminution of your spirits when things don’t work out the way you would have liked, or when you’ve been treated unfairly. These feelings are normal and healthy, but you are designed to stand the hurt that comes when “the world doesn’t cooperate.” Applying the reasonable best test balances your pain or disappointment. By creating a sustained level of positive feelings about your self, you become confident that you can manage your discomfort while facing the issues and attempting to resolve them.
How do I know what my reasonable best is?
Your reasonable best is the best you can do in a situation considering your limited resources. Your intelligence is far from perfect. You have time restrictions and commitments to other obligations. Note that your reasonable best isn’t your absolute best. For instance, suppose you want to win the annual bonus at work for obtaining the largest number of new accounts. You work at achieving this goal eighteen hours a day, seven days a week for several months. In this situation, you are doing your absolute best – at the expense, by the way, of your spouse, children, friends, and even your health. This is more than most rational people would expect of you and it’s more than is wise for you to expect of your self.
If you’re in doubt about what your reasonable best is, discuss your efforts and expectations with other people. Seek the views of others to enhance your own critical appraisal. Others’ opinions may be helpful in shedding light on your blind spots. Some people, characteristically perfectionists, set such unrealistically high standards for themselves that they think they are never doing enough. They continually feel inadequate, even though they do far more than their reasonable best. Others feel good about their self although they put forth little effort and accomplish almost nothing. Moderation in all things is usually the wisest course to pursue. Discussing with others what you believe is your reasonable best can provide valuable guidelines for your use in setting realistic goals.
The next time we meet, I want to answer a commonly asked question:
Suppose I’m not doing my reasonable best? Don’t I deserve to feel bad about myself?
You’ll love the answer. You will learn how to make “The Reasonable Best test of self-worth” a win/win skill that is 100% in your control.
In part 1 of the stren on the reasonable best test of self-worth you were urged to endorse yourself each time you made your reasonable best effort in any endeavor. Because you always have control over your input and rarely control the many factors that determine the outcome, you can consistently fulfill your needs for emotional satisfaction. Now let’s consider how to maintain our positive energy when you recognize you aren’t doing your reasonable best. The question invariably pops up:
Suppose I’m not doing my reasonable best? Don’t I deserve to feel bad about myself?
Certainly not. You’ll always be less than perfect at doing your reasonable best. Improvement requires practice and patience; setbacks are to be expected along the way. Each time you recognize you aren’t doing your reasonable best, you create an opportunity to improve in your endeavors until you reach the level of your reasonable best. Your appropriate response is to say,
“I didn’t do my reasonable best, but I’m recognizing the fact that I could be doing better. Only by recognizing an imperfection can I take the positive step of calling forth more effort and teaching my self to do better. I deserve to feel good about my self for facing my shortcoming.” (Most people beat on themselves when they discover they aren’t the way they “should” be. Such self-putdowns lead to avoiding facing faults.)
Becoming aware of shortcomings, imperfections, or mistakes is your reasonable best! It is one of the most productive things you can do because it affords you the opportunity to discover a better way. The reasonable best measure of self-worth prepares you to apply problem-solving and learn from each of your mistakes.
Teach yourself that earning the approval and love from others is one of our most worthwhile endeavors, but as a bonus, not as a dependency requirement to sustain our own self-worth. We have all that it takes to fulfill our own requirement of love and have plenty that spills over to add to the world. As you consistently endorse yourself to fulfill your requirements for love and approval, you will genuinely offer love to others without the “giving to get” that is a common source of disappointment.
There is no benefit to putting our self down because we are less than perfect, less than we would desire to be. This is a negative response that uses our valuable energy without correcting the situation. The most miserable people I know are often perfectionists. As it is, the mistakes we make or our occasional poor judgment will probably lead to unpleasant consequences. Why pay twice by attacking our self-worth? Once we pay for something, is it wise to keep going back to pay again and again? Would you pay for your groceries and then get back in line to pay again?
Applying the reasonable best test as a measure of self-worth may feel awkward at first, just as mastering any new skill would. Learning to walk, talk, write, or play a musical instrument all require practice. Merely understanding the reasonable best test won’t provide you with good feelings about yourself. You’ll need lots of practice to become adept at using this input measure of self-worth. Think how often and how long you have been practicing being controlled by the outcome of your actions. Every person spends years, even decades, acquiring sufficient mental strength to assume responsibility for their own self-endorsement. In my observation, most people have difficulty getting themselves unstuck from our early addiction to others’ approval. Instead of becoming our own person we continue to let our mood be dependent on the weather, which team won the game, whether the stock market went up or down, or preoccupation about what others think. We are like heroin addicts – we are love junkies constantly seeking our next fix.
Make the reasonable best test stren a habit by asking yourselffrequently during the day, “Am I doing what I reasonably can?” If the answer is “yes,” immediate, enthusiastic self-endorsement is in order. [see the strens on self-endorsement, especially Stren #2 on “Emotional Self-endorsement”] If the answer is “no,” congratulate yourself for finding an opportunity to improve in your efforts. Ask yourself,“What can I do to act more wisely now or in the future?” Turn the answer to the question, “Am I doing my reasonable best?” into a self-endorsing, problem-solving response. Whether the answer is “yes” or “no,” you will have created a win-win situation for growth and self-worth.
As you gain proficiency in this stren, you’ll gradually free yourself from depending on others or on outside circumstances to maintain your self-worth. You’ll consistently feel good about yourself because you can learn to do your reasonable best virtually 100% of the time.