Monday, October 19, 2015

Are We Doing The Best We Can?

    I am joining Kate Motaung and others who are writing every day in October. My intention is to record my reactions and feelings about Brené Brown's newest book, "Rising Strong". You can find the other posts I have written here.     

   I live on a rural island. That means there are critters everywhere around me. Some visit inside my house and I will admit it, I freak out when they do. I hate mice but I really abhor rats. If there is evidence that we have a rat problem any peace my life may have is shattered until we er-rat-icate them. (Pardon the pun)
    So, back to scofflaws and sewer rats. The question I left you with yesterday was the question Diana, Brené's therapist, asked her after rumbling with a sewer rat problem. (Read yesterday's post to catch up on defintions) 

                    What if they are doing the best they can?

 "I don't know, I really don't. All I know is that my life is better when I assume people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgement and let's me focus on what is, and not what should or could be." 

My husband and I debated this idea while driving together Saturday. If someone who has offended us is doing the best they can, given the truth they live, what changes our response from self-righteous indignation to a more compassionate outcome? 

Staying out of resentment by living with boundaries that reflect our integrity.

I teach piano and have for almost thirty years. In those years I have taught a few hundred students and had relationships with a few hundred parents. There have been a small amount of Scofflaws who just couldn't abide by my studio policies. It has taken me a long time to realize that whenever I feel resentment about a difficult request to change my schedule, a late payment, or make-up lesson, I have not made my boundaries clear. Rather than speaking with clarity I have waffled and inwardly stewed. The inward stew became pungent and rich with a bouquet of self-righteousness which eventual settled on the feeling of not-good enough. I don't always do the best I can. How can I assume others are?

"Most of us buy into the myth that it's a long fall from "I'm better than you" to "I'm not good enough"- but the truth is that these are two sides of the same coin. Both are attacks on our worthiness. We don't compare when we are feeling good about ourselves; we look for what is good in others. When we practice self-compassion, we are compassionate towards others. Self- righteousness is just the armor of self-loathing."

Whew! That was a long quote from Brené's book but so worth typing. The self-compassionate road is so much easier on ourselves. Why do we travel the resentment road at all? That was the question my husband asked, in the car, after I made him listen to the chapter on Scofflaws and Sewer rats. I really don't know. But I'm rumbling with that.


  1. Another very thought-provoking post. I think I need some time to process this but I'm certainly enjoying your reflections and they definitely encourage me to read the book.

  2. Much food for thought. The long quote was definitely worth quoting; absolutely love the ideas contained in it. (I was just writing about this myself today, about how judgement happens often so automatically, so intrinsically, almost as a defense mechanism). Great post. Thanks so much.


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