What if we’re all doing the best we can?

When was the last time you judged?

Yourself, someone else? 5 seconds ago? 5 minutes? Maybe you made it a whole hour without comparing, sizing up, declaring the worth of you or those around you.

Judging is part of how we make sense of the world.

Our brains are programmed to predict (“what will happen if I turn here? Eat this? Say that??”) and to constantly weigh risks versus benefits. Combine those hard-wired attributes, and each of us can pass judgement on our own behavior–and that of everyone and everything in the world–in a snap.

All good for making our way through the world. Not so great for creating connection, safety, and relationship.

So here’s this wacky idea:

What if we’re all doing the best we can?

When I propose this idea to my clients, they generally look at me suspiciously. I walk them through it:

“OK, right now, I swear to you that I am absolutely doing the best I can. Really!”

Usually they humor me enough to begrudgingly let that idea go by. Until I turn it around:

“So, are YOU doing the best you can in this moment?”

Now I’m pushing it. This is the gist of what I hear next:

“Well no. I think if I was just trying harder I could be doing better.”

So I prod, trying to be gentle: “So, why aren’t you? Trying harder, that is?”

At this point I can see their anxiety rise. Am I actually pointing out what is wrong with them? And they’re PAYING for this??

But I press on. “No, really. If you could ‘do better,’ what’s stopping you? Because–again–I swear: Between what I ate for breakfast this morning, and how much sleep I got last night, and who my kindergarten teacher was, and how I spent my twenties…all of those million moments added up to the me that is sitting here in front of you.”

They chew on this for a bit.

Then I add: “And here’s something about this that’s really tough. In five minutes I will have learned something which will tell me that what I said or did five minutes earlier wasn’t helpful, or actually made things worse. Doesn’t that SUCK??! ”

Some of the time I’m successful with my logic.

Mostly, I think, people turn away, secretly believing that they’re different from me. If they could JUST focus more, or be more articulate, or just push a little harder, for sure they could show up differently for this moment.

But they can’t. I can’t. You can’t.

Or we all would.

Of course, the best news of this vast limitation on our collective human condition is that we learn. We open to the constant flow of feedback coming towards us so that we can see what happened and shift how we show up next time. What a relief.

As you look upon your fellow citizens, both of this country and of the world, how would it change your perspective and your felt experience if you believed that we are all doing the best we can?

All of us, from the most spiritually-evolved to the crooked politicians to the most murderous sociopaths. We get up and meet life from where we are in the moment. We are held accountable for our actions, certainly. But truly,

We are all doing the best we can.


My new book, The Inner Map: Navigating Your Emotions to Create the World You Want is out in paperback and as an ebook! To order, go to Amazon or Integrity Arts Press.

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