We are all prone to making mistakes and, except in cases of pure evil, most people are doing the best they can with the prevailing awareness they have at the time. No one really attempts to fail at something. It is true that we all know people, including ourselves, who can be apathetic, lazy, procrastinators, and forgetful. Is the apathetic person actually doing “the best they can”? No. In reality, we all don’t do the best we can, and we all fall short of the mark. However, believing that people are doing the best they can with the prevailing awareness they have at the time, in that moment, is generally a true statement.

When I observe someone’s behavior that is less than optimal, instead of mocking it, criticizing it, gossiping about it, calling them stupid, or something worse, I consider that they are doing the best they can with their prevailing awareness. My observation turns into understanding, tolerance, concern, and wonder. I wonder what could have happened in their life that would cause them to respond in that way.

When I believe that everyone is doing the best they can, it causes me to be in a more affirming relationship. It causes me to see life as a series of opportunities instead of a series of problems. When others make a mistake or fail, it is an opportunity to learn. I am willing to accept the consequence of giving someone another chance. I appreciate when someone gives me a second chance, and I will act in kind.

Where I used to feel disappointed and think negatively when someone let me down. I now realize it was my poor judgment when I decided to depend on them and trust them. I will be more careful about whom I trust in the future and take personal responsibility for how I respond to the situation.


Ray McKinley