Today I’m going to share with you what I like to call my ‘mantra of understanding’
Adopting this mantra and this way of seeing has created a huge positive shift in my relationships, both with others and with myself.
This mantra is this: Everyone is doing the best that they can with the resources they have.
Everyone is doing the best that they can with the resources they have.
At first this might be a hard concept to swallow. We might think about the parent or the partner who hurt us in the past, the friend of ours who continues with self-destructive behaviour, we might think about the rude person at work or our own mistakes and regrets, and it’s easy to think that we or they could have and should have done a lot better.
From criticism to care, from fault finding to understanding
It’s easy to go into this habit of criticizing, finding fault, judging and putting people down for not for not being able to cope with life the way we think they should be able to. It’s also easy to think they should deal with things the way we deal with things. And when people behave in ways that we feel hurt by it’s easy to demonize them and become resentful.
But here is the thing. Truly, none of us wants to suffer. We all want to be happy. We’ve all experienced times when we wished we could do better but didn’t know how or we just couldn’t break free of old habits, and being judged and criticized for it wouldn’t have helped.
A step towards unconditional love and acceptance
We all made mistakes, we all get reactive sometimes, we all have our own conditioned patterns we have to deal with, and we all deal with things unskilfully sometimes. Not because of an intent to harm, not because we’re bad people, but just because we got caught up in our own stuff.
It’s also worth noting that many people have never had the chance to learn skills to deal with their wounds, fears and flaws better than they do. They may not know how to be less reactive, less angry and less anxious or afraid. Thinking they should know better when they don’t, only breeds disconnection, tension and stress, both within and without.
Equally, being harsh and unforgiving to yourself, thinking you should know or do better when you didn’t and you couldn’t, only brings you hurt and shame. Instead consider the words of Maya Angelou “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
This week’s invitation: Apply the mantra of understanding
The mantra of understanding helps us let go of the false idea of perfection and embrace a more unconditional and gentle attitude towards others and ourselves. It allows us to give people room to make mistakes, have flaws and weaknesses and still be accepted and loved.
Everyone is doing the best that they can with the resources they have. I know for myself, when I remember that fact, life is better. I’m more able to step out of blame, judgement and anger and step into compassion, forgiveness and understanding, not only with others but with myself too.
It also gives me the clarity of mind and heart to clearly communicate my needs, my boundaries and my feelings instead of being caught in negativity.
So the invitation I extend to you for the week ahead is to see if you can remember the mantra of understanding. If you find yourself judging, looking down upon others, feeling critical or angry with someone, remind yourself of the mantra. Experiment with this and see how it feels and what it offers you in your own life.
Wishing you a wonderful week of practice.
P.S You can get all my meditations, talks, courses and daily mindfulness coaching with me at Mindfulness.com. It’s free to join so come on over and give it a try today.