Are you doing the best you can right now with all that is going on around you? Think about that one for a second. Are you pulling your hair out and struggling to find another art project for your kids to do because you don’t want them to watch television all day? Yet now you realize you may be stuck with them for several more weeks and your can’t think of anymore projects. Or are you worried about the job you may or may not have weeks from now, and the stress you feel in your head has moved to your shoulders and then to your back and next thing you know you are in full body aches?
You are doing the best you can right?
Do you think the poor guy at the grocery store is? You know, the one that you secretly judged a little for having too much milk in his cart, thinking to yourself that he may be an idiot for getting so much of a perishable item. Maybe is doesn’t know any better. Maybe he is taking them to a food shelter to feed kids.
Do you think that mom with three little ones at home who is watching Disney Plus on constant loop all day is doing her best? Or are you thinking she needs to get those kids to read more and play outside?
The lovely and wonderful author Brene Brown (of no relation) has come up with this incredible idea, that we all must assume that everyone, yes everyone, is doing the best they can. You may not whole heartedly agree, but think about where you are in your life and where the other person is in theirs. You may see that mom and think she could do more to be a better parent or the guy could do more to be a better employee. But aren’t you looking at them through your own personal lens of experience?
I know I have looked at what people do and have judged their actions. I know I have thought about what others are doing and became perplexed at why one would do something that way. But now I have to step back and see that not everyone has my experiences, nor my educational background, which has led me to this place in my life. I also realize now that I don’t know everyone’s full story. I don’t know if they have unresolved issues stemming from abuse or trauma. I don’t know if they may have an underlying mental issue that prevents them from seeing the world the way I do. I know I have had the luxury of seeking help, but maybe they haven’t
I don’t know what looks like laziness may be someone that was never shown how to do something, and they just don’t know any better.
Brene goes on to ask the question, pretending if God was to tell you the person you are looking at really is doing the best they can, then how does that change things? One example she gives is of a minister and his wife giving a family money, but finding out the father spends it on alcohol rather than food. The minister becomes angry. But when asked if he thought the man was doing his best to help his family, the minister quickly responded “absolutely not”, he can do so much more, he can buy food for them or go to meetings to control his alcoholism. And most would agree.
Or are we putting our own perspective into the situation. That’s what “we” would do if in the man’s shoes. Why? Because we have better skills and experiences than him, because we may not have an addiction to alcohol so we don’t see the need to steal money to buy liquor.
When asked what he needs to do differently if he believes the man truly is doing the best he can with what he knows and has, the minister began weeping and said, I guess I need to stop giving him money and find another means to help the family, or just stop helping them.
I get mad. I blame my Italian heritage on that one, but I get mad and frustrated at people. The person that cuts me off in traffic and the patient that is always 10 minutes late. But now I have a different perspective in all of those things. I see a driver that may be struggling to get to work on time because they are overwhelmed at home with kids they have to get out the door for school. Or the guy I think is a complete asshole may not have had the loving relationships I had growing up.
The concept is hard to swallow and the more you feel you can’t buy into the thought that everyone is doing their best, then perhaps you need to turn the camera on yourself. Perhaps you feel like we all feel. Why should that person be allowed to get away with that kind of behaviour and I can’t?
Perhaps that person doesn’t have the grace in their heart like you do. Perhaps that person doesn’t know what is at the end of their rainbow, and it scares them.
I know you all are doing the best you can right now, as am I. I will continue to read and write and do my best to grow, and do better. In the meantime, try a little experiment and realize that the guy that annoys you the most really is doing the best they can, and see if your mindset goes from one of anger and frustration to one of understanding and pity. Maybe you will see how truly blessed you are that you can see what they don’t, and maybe you can help teach them. Maybe what they don’t have is your perspective on things.
And maybe we go from a position of being a judge to being a teacher.
We are all in this together for the long haul now, so maybe we need to stop getting mad at people and start teaching each other the skills to do better, and in turn, we work and live better together.