I have been studying Choice Theory for more than 30 years, and there has always been the concept that people are doing their best in any given situation with the information available to them. I ascribed to that statement for much of those 30 years.
We had a colleague, Diane Gossen, who spoke of people who did horrible things, like murder. She suggested that they had thought to do worse but chose a less-horrible behavior. She suggested that perhaps they wanted to torture the person first but didn’t. Maybe they thought to kill others but spared them. She supported the statement that people always did their best in every situation.
In Mental Freedom®, I say it just a little bit differently and I believe it makes all the difference: People are doing the best they can to get what they want with the information available to them at that moment in time. The toddler who hits his brother over the head with a Tonka truck knows that hitting his brother is not a good thing to do, but in that moment, he wanted what his brother was playing with and hitting him was the only way he knew how to get what he wanted.
The parent who abandons her child on a church step knows it may not be the best thing to do, but she wants her freedom more. It could also be that she believes the child would be better off. Either way, she is doing the best she knows to get what she wants in that moment.
The person who cheats on their spouse knows it may not be the best thing they can do at the time, but it is what they want in that moment.
The point is that people can do terrible things, but it is always in service of what they want. The Unconditional Trust Challenge recognizes this. When you take this Challenge, you vow to trust that every single person on the planet is doing their best to get what they want in that moment.
So, what’s the big deal about that? If you love someone, isn’t that what you want for them? That they are able to get what they want most in a given situation, even if that isn’t what you want for them? If you have resistance to that question, then I can guess you would benefit from the Mental Freedom® Process®.
So often we have our loved one’s best interests at heart as we try to change them into a “better” version of themselves. We do this out of love, but how do you think your loved one experiences this? This is almost always seen as judgment and criticism of the person they truly are. They have nowhere to go with that except to resent you for it, or worse. They may internalize your judgment and criticism and spiral deeper into whatever traits and behaviors you have accused them of.
So, what should you do? If Mental Freedom® is something you desire, you need to take the Unconditional Trust Challenge with all the important people in your life. Begin to accept that whatever they are doing is the best behavior they currently have to get what they want. If it’s working for them, then you will need to decide if that lines up with what you want in your life. Refusing to try and change this person, you can be happy your loved one is getting what they want and support them, or you can distance yourself and be happy for them from afar.
If they are doing the best to get what they want and it isn’t working for them, you will likely want to help. Remember, this is their journey, not yours. Sometimes people don’t want help and need to figure it out for themselves. I remember a mother speaking to me about her son doing things “the hard way,” and I suggested that perhaps it wasn’t the hard way for him, just his way. If your loved one is willing to accept your help, then be sure you are being helpful instead of judging or criticizing. Instead, simply provide some information they may not possess that will help them be more effective.
The same is true about your involvement in the relationship. When you take the Unconditional Trust Challenge, the proverbial ball is in your court. You always support the person for doing their best to get what they want, and you then make a decision about how involved you want to be in that process. This provides one more key to Mental Freedom®.
I’m taking the Unconditional Trust Challenge today with my husband.
THANK YOU FOR OUR ZOOM CONVERSATION EARLIER.
With him, I’m choosing not to take offense if he is impatient and critical.
I’m glad he shares my life.