This has been on my mind and I'd like to write something better but I'm putting it here so I don't forget
I have to believe that people are doing their best. I mean: I have to believe it. Like, in order to get through my day. I have to think that whatever people are doing, on an individual level, is the best they can do. It may be the best they can do at a thing that they are not prioritizing; they may be prioritizing something else and doing a really good job at that, and the other thing that I wish they would do better at, they just don't have time or energy or capacity to do well because they are doing the thing they prioritize so very well. But I still have to think: this is the best they can do.
I have to believe it because it is a way for me to function in the world with other people's behaviors and not think: this person is deliberately and thoughtfully behaving in a way I consider to be subpar or even unkind. I genuinely cannot exist in the world if I see unpleasant things that people do as deliberately and thoughtfully unpleasant. I have to think: the things that are beautiful are usually deliberate and thoughtful, and the things that are ugly usually are not.
This is a good survival strategy for me, honestly. It might not work for everyone. It enables a great deal of forgiveness. It cuts down on nagging. I used to imagine myself as a wave beating itself on the shore, trying to pull in grains of attention to make piles of things I cared about. Eroding people with my need and my desire for them to change. It was exhausting to feel that way, to feel like if I could just say what I wanted in precisely the right way, it would be heard. I would say: Could you please. Would you mind. I wish that you wouldn't. It hurts me when you do. Now I think: they are doing their best.
And I hope at the same time that people will look at me, in the ways I disappoint them, and know that I am also really doing my best. I miss birthdays, forget to check in, don't say thank you enough, haven't read the books I was given, didn't answer messages. I am not even living up to my own standards most of the time, but I really am trying to make the butter reach all the way to the end of the bread.
Of course there are people whose best is exclusively self-serving, I'll call them evil people, and they can be avoided as they're easy to spot. What I sometimes struggle with is when I encounter people whose best is so far from aligning with mine that it looks bad but not evil. It looks maybe just ignorant. I mean generally the safest bet for me is if it looks actively mean, I should avoid that person. But sometimes I struggle with: If I inform this person of how their behavior looks to me, will it result in a change? Like I had a kid, and I had to teach him stuff; I know we don't spring into the world perfect. And I have had friends that didn't know how to do things that I could teach them how to do, and that's okay. But surely by adulthood the information is available of how to behave in the world. Or is it like spinach on the teeth, something that it's a kindness to mention. In any case the spinach isn't there on purpose. I have to believe they didn't mean to leave it there, whether I decide to say something or not.
Sometimes I state my process and it sounds like a thing I have accomplished, and sometimes it is but sometimes I'm just striving. Doing my best.