Do you believe that EVERYONE is doing their best? No one is excluded – not your spouse, partner, co-worker, friend, neighbor, etc. What about your mom? Your dad? The person that raised you? Do you believe they are doing their best? 

I unknowingly excluded my mom from the “everyone is doing their best” list for a long time. It’s something I see happen often and I observed it again during a recent women’s healing circle. There was a theme that most of the women shared in the circle – it was that growing up they had a strained relationship with their mom. They felt like their mom criticized them too much, was not present enough, not loving enough, not supportive enough, and was emotionally absent or abusive. These women expressed how difficult it was to grow up not feeling connected, seen, or heard. It was difficult for them to not always feel loved by their mom.

That is . . . until one day it clicked and they had a light bulb moment! Their mom was not perfect. They are human and were ALSO doing their best. They realized that they had excluded their mom from the “everyone is doing their best” list. Hmmm . . . 

As children, we tend to put our parents on a pedestal. We expect them to know everything, to always take care of us, keep us safe, never hurt us, say the right things at the right times, not make mistakes, push us to succeed (but not too much), love us exactly the way we want to be loved, and so on. However, no one is ever going to live up to these high expectations and will never make our list. 

I can recall when I had my light bulb moment. It was when the parent-child relationship started to shift. My parents were getting older, experiencing some health issues, and were beginning to need more help from their children. 

Around that same time, I read an article from Brendon Burchard that talked about interviewing your loved ones. It got me thinking about how well did I really know my parents’ childhood, views, dreams experiences, struggles, etc. I wanted to get to know my parents better – before it was too late.

I used some of the questions from Brendon, added some of my own, and slowly started asking my parents questions about their lives. It was amazing how much I learned and how much I didn’t know. 

This is when my relationship with my parents shifted, especially with my mom. It was my light bulb moment. As I learned more about her life, I was able to understand that she has been doing her best – based on her experiences, upbringing, childhood, relationships, views, struggles, traumas, losses, dreams, etc

It also shifted my perception of my mom and I was able to let go of the underlying anger that I was holding toward my mom. Interestingly, I didn’t fully realize I was holding on to the anger . . . until I was able to let go of it.

Over time, I started to notice that I was less and less triggered by my mom. It wasn’t that she had completely changed. However, because my perception changed – it opened me up to let go of the unrealistic expectations I had placed on her and to not take things as personally. 

What about you? Maybe you don’t have a strained relationship with your mom. Maybe it is your dad or another caregiver. Do you have a loved one in your life that you have been excluding from the “everyone is doing their best” list? Is it someone you would like to get to know better? 

Think of what you would like to know about your loved one and create your list of questions. Next, check in with your loved one and ask them if they are open to answering some questions.

Be prepared that they may not want to share or are not ready to share the details of their life with you. It may be too difficult for them to think about their past or they are starting to forget the details. If this happens, you can try a different question or try asking at a different time. Be patient, don’t take it personally, and respect their boundaries. 

If you do have a chance to get your questions answered – it may or may not completely shift your relationship. However, it can help you shift your perception, so you can let go of unrealistic expectations and of taking things personally. You will gain a better understanding of why they did or did not do or say certain things. It will help you see that they have been doing their best. We are ALL doing our best.  

A single moment of understanding can flood a whole life with meaning.” Unknown