Know Better, Do Better

The first time I heard this statement “When we know better, we do better” by poet Maya Angelou, I thought, “Of course.” How simple and how beautiful and how very freeing this statement is.

This statement has allowed me to forgive myself for some of the less-than-stellar behavior of my past. I realize looking back that I, like many people, simply did not have the life skills or maturity to handle certain situations with aplomb. Although I still feel responsible for certain behaviors, this statement freed me from the guilt associated with them and has helped me vow to do even better. And this doesn’t mean that I always had enormous things to forgive myself for but mostly all the little petty things that I could improve on—like being impatient when someone didn’t move fast enough or saying things that weren’t kind or necessary. Other times I could have been more patient with my children and with my mother or been more generous to someone in need. I guess as we live, we learn, and that’s how we grow a soul. We can bedevil and judge ourselves, but we’re really OK and, most of the time, try to do better each day as we learn.

The words we think and speak hold great power and to a large extent determine the kind of life that we will create for ourselves. Many people live their lives with negative thoughts rushing through their heads and never even realize it. If that was the norm for them as they were growing up, it seems completely natural to them. They tell themselves they are not good enough, pretty enough, not worthy, and don’t deserve anything. Then they are amazed when their reality starts reflecting their thoughts back to them. The subconscious mind accepts as truth all the thoughts we think and the words we say. The bad news is that it accepts all the negative thoughts, but the good news is it also accepts all the positive thoughts and affirmations we may give ourselves. 

When we know better, we do better doesn’t only apply to how we communicate with the outside world. It also applies to how we communicate with ourselves as well. If we communicate with ourselves in a positive way, affirming in the present tense what we wish to have in our lives, our subconscious mind will pick up on these positive messages, and our lives will start to reflect these thoughts back to us. 

Affirmation statements have the power to change our lives. The affirmations we may wish to create should be specific, not too long, worded positively, and spoken in the present tense as if what we are affirming is already true. We may want to focus on an attitude situation such as, “I am really happy and joyful” or it could be more specific such as, “I am enjoying my new car.” 

We have to fully commit to wanting to know better and do better especially because the reward of a better life awaits us. Once we fully commit to a course of action, the universe can start lining up behind us with all its abundance. Until we fully commit to something, we are wishy washy, thinking this way one moment and that way the next moment. Our focus becomes so diluted that we cannot make headway in our creation. Fully committing to being a better person to others will garner us great rewards in feelings of satisfaction and the good will of others. Becoming a better person to ourselves will garner us even greater rewards since who we are shouts out of us so loudly that others will hear it even if we don’t say a word. In short, becoming a better person will bring joy to us and others. 

As we constantly learn and know better, we do better. It’s how we grow and trim off the rough edges. Hopefully, as we become more mature, we grow in our love for others and our love for ourselves. The world definitely improves when you start knowing better and doing better! And this helps us to forgive others, too, because we come to realize that when they know better, they will do better, too.

Sherry Kulakowski lives and works in Virginia Beach. You can reach her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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