What if this is not the worst-case scenario? What if it is the best-case scenario? How
would your view of your current circumstances change?
What if every person you encounter is simply doing the best they can with what they
have? What if every person who misunderstands you and causes you hurt or
frustration is trying as hard as they possibly can to do their best to understand you
and meet what you need of them?
We tend to view the world through a filter colored by our emotions, judgments and
experiences – we’re self-centered that way.
But the truth is somewhere in between what we perceive is happening and what
others perceive is happening. We can access so much more peace in our internal
worlds once we learn how to believe that our experience is not necessarily the whole
It also enables us to have more compassion for ourselves and others, as we bump
up against one another on this path called Life.
When I was a teenager, I struggled in my relationship with my mother. I
communicated my thoughts and feelings a lot, because we’d been taught truth was a
high value. In my teenage brain, truth was pretty concrete and didn’t have a lot of
compassion for what my mother was going through, the experiences that shaped
how she was able to parent me and respond to my communication. We had a lot of
What I couldn’t see at the time, was that ours was the best-case scenario. There
were things I wanted or wished could be different particularly around the things that
seemed to cause the most tension and frustration. Cleaning and chores and rules
that seemed to cause more struggle than benefit. Typical teenage stuff but in our
home, it seemed to be a battlefield.
A single mother of three, she was working full-time, trying to give us the best
education she could while dealing with little financial support from my dad and her
own loneliness. She felt judged for her divorce and how her life had changed after
that. She no longer attended church because she felt like she didn’t belong or was
understood. Her frustration came out quickly but as I’ve learned to hear more of her
story, I now understand she was doing the best she could. Yeah, there were times it
got pretty bad. But it was the very best-case scenario.
When someone gets angry with me now, I remind myself firstly they are coming from
a place I don’t understand. Perhaps they are angry because I failed to meet an
expectation they had of me or because I’ve somehow stepped on a place in their
lives where they are ‘doing the best they can’. Those places in our lives are both the
hardest and the best places and where our weakness and stress points are most
The sooner I realize that and shift gears, the sooner I am able to step into
compassion and look for understanding that can draw us back together instead of
pushing us apart.
When we think the worst of people and assume the worst, we start to live in isolated
defensiveness. It’s only in compassion and assuming people are doing the best they
can, we have the capacity to draw closer together.
I believe that’s why we never see Jesus issue judgement on anyone but the
Pharisees and Sadducees. He knows the woman at the well, Martha, Peter and
Thomas the Doubter are all doing the best they can. In fact, he teaches adamantly
against judgement because it would be impossible for any of us to find our own
behaviour without fault enough to qualify to judge others.
Removing judgement is key to how we might live in peace with one another and
peace with ourselves. Sometimes we need permission to remind ourselves that we
are doing the best we can.
Tash is a former minister who works as a strategist and writer. She helps companies, not for profit and ministry organisations use design thinking and collaboration strategies to achieve better outcomes. She is also the wonderful person who suggested I start a blog. Thanks Tash.
You can find out more about Tash at tashmcgill.com