Adults Do Well When They Can

Jun 12, 2023

They really do.

Or perhaps like Brene Brown, you just choose to believe it: “All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgment and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.” Or perhaps you lean on these words from author and guru Deepak Chopra who said, “People are doing the best that they can from their own level of consciousness.” Or finally, psychologist Ross Greene, who stated, “We do the best we can with the resources we have in the moment.”


It matters because it opens the door to radical acceptance. Instead of changing yourself, or changing your partner (or your parents or your friends), instead of building up a list of things that need to change about them, instead of wishing they could wake up tomorrow and be different (i.e. go to therapy, be more calm, be more introspective, listen better), what would happen if you released these unmet expectations and accepted them right where they are today? What would you do differently to take care of yourself?


In a posture of acceptance, we can see what is, instead of what could be. In a posture of acceptance, we can be present to our unmet needs, our longings, and our gratitudes. We can still dream. We can still hope. And we can do so, grounded in the truth of what is. Accepting that others do well when they can opens up space for conversation about what is getting in their way, what needs to change for us to do well, and what could shift to unlock more "wellness" in the relationship. Within this collaborative approach, trust and newness can grow in a relationship of acceptance.


Lurking behind the belief that others need to "get their stuff in a pile" is often the mirror-view: I just need to get it together. I am the one messing this up. If I was just different, if I was just better, this wouldn't be so hard. We would be OK.

This is shame. Shame doesn't say, "You can do better next time," or "I wonder where you can grow?" Shame says, "There's something wrong with you. You should be different." The belief that we all do well is anti-shame.


I should be able to remain calm.

He should listen more.

I should be interested.

She shouldn't lose her temper.

I shouldn't have yelled.

He should take this online course.

The litany of "should's" in relationships can get miles long, and are rife with shame-filled places of self-judgment.

Neurodivergent parents are particularly susceptible to the shaming voice of the "shoulds." Many of us have shamed ourselves or been shamed by the world around us our whole lives. We believe we are wrong, too much, too little, broken. We shut down our voice because we've been told too many times that no one wants to hear what we have to say. "You should be different," that's what the world says to ND people.


There's no one standard of "well."

"We all do well when we can" does not mean that we all show up in the world in the same way. It cannot impose yet another measurement of thriving based on neurotypical standards, another way of finding some people inadequate. We have our own "well," and it deserves honor and respect. Disabled bodies have worth in their own right, regardless of how we participate in the world.


Radically accepting love is the most potent gift each of us has to give the people in our lives, and I would argue, the universe of humanity as a whole. Showing up in acceptance defeats shame and ableism and embraces the embodied reality of the people we love most.

Can you give yourself this gift?

Can you extend it to the people in your life?

Why is everything so hard?


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