Do you think in general, that people are doing the best they can?
Seriously, I want you to answer this question.
It’s easy to be self-righteous, isn’t it? To make the assumption that people are just idiots and fly around attempting to make our lives harder. But when we get down to it, does assuming that people are doing the best they can with the knowledge that they have, make it easier to accept what is, instead of what it could be or should be? It certainly takes us out of our victim stories.
“All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgement and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.” – Steve Alley (taken from Brene´ Brown’s book Rising Strong.)
I want you to ponder this assumption that people are doing the best that they can at any given time. Yes, it is the one time I will tell you to make an assumption – when your are set off by someone else’s actions, lack of sensitivity, or even what you deem to be stupidity, what would it look like to think about how someone is simply doing the best that they can? Because we certainly can’t assume to know their current circumstances.
It doesn’t exist and holding ourselves and others to this monumental myth allows us to be self-righteous and judgmental. Famous researcher and best-selling author, Brene´ Brown encourages us to get curious about the stories we tell ourselves and about the world we live in. Her research indicates that those of us who subscribe to ‘perfectionism’ are the ones that judge ourselves and others hardest.
So if you answered no, no that people aren’t doing the best that they can. Here’s your opportunity to ponder the opposite idea. And take yourself off the hook at the same time.
It seems that the key is to let go of our own self-judgement and self-righteousness for compassion and setting boundaries. Meaning that if we are out in the world attempting to good (the best that we can) and we are continually flummoxed and mystified by the ‘poor decisions’ of others; wouldn’t it be easier to offload the resentment, frustration, and anger by assuming that everyone is doing the best that they can? And the kicker: is to set a boundary not to do something simply because it would please someone else. Brown’s studies show the most compassionate people can be because they set the best boundaries. Compassionate folks can give because they also fill themselves up. This all combines to allow us to put down the weight of feeling ‘taken advantage of’, ‘resentful’, ‘angry’ and ‘exhausted’ and show more compassion for others!
What if we all choose to become ambassadors of this awareness instead of judging everyone? And for the days that you get back on your high horse and ride into the self-righteous sunset, remind yourself; in general, you are doing the best that you can.
I’d love to hear from you on this one: why do you agree or disagree with the statement that everyone is doing the best that they can at any given moment? I want your perspective. Obviously, this concept struck a chord for me. Personally, I had been judging a situation in my life as totally “insensitive” and “mean” and then I was given this perspective via Brown’s book, Rising Strong. If you are interested, I highly suggest you read it. It’s a life-changer for me.