“When you know better, you do better”

Photo by Kristin Dahl

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, you do better”– Maya Angelou

I heard this simple yet profound quote in an interview Oprah did to the famous American poet Maya Angelou. So much self-compassion comes from seeing past “mistakes” through this lens, understanding that they came from the limited perception and knowledge you had at the time.

Because, who hasn’t made mistakes? We can all look back to situations that we wished we had handled differently. And many of us carry the guilt of a past event on our shoulders for years, beating ourselves up about something we cannot change now.

You can’t go back and change what happened in the past, but you can look at those experiences as platforms of growth instead of blaming and criticizing yourself. Actually, sometimes doing what you shouldn’t be doing can be the greatest teacher. You learn from your past actions so that you can act differently in the future, and really let go of the burden of guilt that you may be carrying every day. As Oprah reminds us, “you don’t have to hold yourself hostage to who you used to be or anything you ever did.”

It is much more freeing to look at how you handled a situation in your past as coming from the level of knowledge and capacities that you had at the moment. You did what you knew best. And now, if you were faced with a similar situation, be grateful that you can act differently, from a higher state of awareness and knowledge.