For the past few weeks, I have noticed that I have been exceptionally angry with my mother. Whenever the two of us are within close proximity, there seems to be a palpable tension that borders on hostility. And yet, when I am on the bus, walking about, or teaching someone who reminds me of my mother – I experience a great deal of tenderness for these elderly, black women that in someway remind me of my mother. There is a part of me that feels instantly connected to the lives they may have lead, the challenges they may have faced, and the struggles they continue to experience.
And yet, when I look at my own mother, I have no patience for her. I instantly become agitated and annoyed. And the unconditional positive regard I seem capable of extending to others, seems inapplicable to her. And while the words may not come out of my mouth, it as though there is constantly this critical thought wondering why she isn’t doing more to be better than she is.
As I have been sitting with this awareness and watching my own tendencies, I have noticed that this thought has incrementally created distance between us. For even though I may not voice my judgments, the fact that these thoughts live in my mind result in a lack of compassion, tenderness, and kindness that I am capable of giving to her, myself, or our relationship.
In an effort to help correct this behavior, and respond in a manner that is more in alignment with the person that I strive to be, I have been practicing the following mantra any time I feel agitation, irritation, or judgment arise: “We’re all doing the best that we can.” I’ve noticed that in repeating this mantra silently to myself, my attitude towards her changes, and thus the tension between the two of us lessens.
Where in your own life might you find yourself being unnecessarily hard on, critical of, or distant from someone in your life? This person could be anyone from your closest friend to a stranger on the bus. To the best of your ability, take a moment to pause, take a deep breath, and say, “We’re all doing the best that we can.” This statement, this mantra, is true not only for me and my mother, but also for you and every other person on the planet. We all are doing the best that we can with the cards we’ve been dealt and sometimes we need to be reminded of that when we find ourselves becoming irritable, annoyed, or impatient with ourselves or others.
We’re all doing the best that we can.