Stop for a moment and imagine the most annoying person in your life right now. Say their name in your head. Think about the last time you interacted with them, what they said, how you felt about it.
Would you feel any differently about them if you knew for certain that they were doing their absolute best to navigate this messy maze of life? That’s the revolutionary (at least to me) idea that Brene Brown proposes in her book, Rising Strong. It’s a wonderful book recommended to me by a dear friend, full of valuable truths about acknowledging emotions, their limitations, and how to, well, rise strong. Expect more references in the next few posts.
After reading about this outlandish idea that everyone around me is probably not actually maliciously slacking off with the express purpose of making my life more difficult, I immediately felt relieved, shamed, and suspicious. (1) Relieved because I have a new tool to help me understand others better and get frustrated less often. (2) Shamed because I am clearly struggling with a superiority complex here. (3) Suspicious because if everyone is doing the best they can, I want to hear the full story of why their best doesn’t seem all that awesome to me (back to #2).
There’s the rub. We don’t know everyone’s story but most importantly we shouldn’t HAVE to know. I’m all for getting to know others on a deeper level but I shouldn’t reserve granting basic grace or the benefit of the doubt to those around me just because I don’t know their full life saga. As Aslan gently reminds Shasta in The Horse and His Boy, “Child,’ said the Lion, ‘I am telling you your story, not hers. No one is told any story but their own.”
I’ve got nothing to lose except some ego. And I could use to slim down that particular feature of mine in this new year.
P.S. There’s no way I could write about doing our best without referencing this hilarious stand-up act. WARNING: Some offensive language used. Enjoy at your own risk.