I was listening to an interview when the discussion took a turn to judging people who make life choices that don’t live up to the standard we set for ourselves and we end up judging those people for their actions but what if those people are truly doing the best they can? That small shift in thinking has made such an impact on my life; in the way I see people, react to situations and the hold space in my heart.
I know we all have that friend or family member who just when you thought they couldn’t shock you more with their lifestyle choices, your mouth drops open and you think, “seriously? what the fuck?” and wonder how they can think their actions are okay. You may have several people in your life who have made you shake your head. I know I do.
I also have days and moments in my life when I think those exact things about myself. “Seriously Deb? What the fuck is wrong with you?”
There are also people who we don’t personally know making us wonder just how do they actually function on a daily basis. The guy or girl standing on the street bumming for change or sitting on the corner strung out on something. The spouse having an affair, the person sitting there gambling their money away, the working parent with too much on their plate, loosing patience with their kid having a tantrum in the store or teenager with the attitude pushing the boundaries.
What if we dig even deeper to the ones who hit the news. Those who have broken the law. I am not trying to make light of this, I am not condoning crime of any kind nor am I making excuses for criminals, I believe they need to face consequences for what they have done but what is their life all about for them to make the choices that they do?
It is easy to point fingers at those people and ourselves. It is easy to cast judgement upon them, think badly of them and live in a negative space while seeing, reading or hearing about their actions but…..
What if? What if, you think to yourself…
“this person is doing the absolute best they can at this moment….”
You must learn a new way to ‘think’, before you can master a new way to ‘be’…Marianne Williamson
I first gave this a try with someone in my life who was making choices I didn’t understand…. Is “Joe” doing the best he can, with everything going on in his life and all his past traumas, could this possibly be the best he can do right now? Wow. Just that shift in my thinking and taking 5 minutes to think about this completely changed my judgmental opinion of this person to compassion and even empathy.
So what if the woman who is using food stamps or child benefits for drugs instead of the essentials for her child(ren) is actually doing the very best she is capable of right now. That is not a situation that most of us could ever imagine ourselves in. No, most of use are fortunate that our best allows us to put our child above anything else but not this lady, for she is holding her life together the best she can and one can only hope for her that when she knows better, she will do better.
What about the woman, who for over 30 years, lied to her friends, her family, and herself about her drinking problem. The woman who drank to push down the darkness that scared her. The woman who passed out watching Disney movies with her kid or broke endless promises to her husband and herself that she would ease up on the drinking. What if she was actually doing the very best she could at that time but once that woman knew better, she did better…
It certainly doesn’t make things that a lot of people are doing “correct” or “okay” but it gives me a compassion for that person, an empathy, a light in my heart where perhaps I only held darkness, impatience, annoyance or even anger toward them and toward myself. Life is too short to hold darkness inside yourself and in turn spread that darkness to others.
I wonder what kind of shift the planet would take if we all started using that small sentence more often…..