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Our Best is Different

We cannot give what we don’t have.

The third secret in Dr. Wayne Dyer’s 10 Secrets for Success and Inner Peace is You Can’t Give Away What You Don’t Have. Well, doh. That’s pretty straightforward.


Have you applied the same concept to people whom you think aren't as giving as they ought to be? Or people who appear to be jerks?

People who do not possess inner peace, love, compassion, and example goes on, cannot give what is not in them. Thus the title of the post–our best is different. A what appears to be a selfish person is likely hitting his or her max on giving others.

Someone who appears to be cranky or heartless likely does not have love and kindness in them. It is also likely the person feels lonely and hollow inside.

My Abusive Father

My father was very abusive. For years I blamed and hated him for filling my childhood with fear. I held him accountable for giving us a dysfunctional environment, and later each dysfunctional relationship I got myself into. I held him accountable for my low self-esteem. I still recall him snatching our blanket in the middle of the night and beating my brother and I with his belt for absolutely no reason.

Before you tsk tsk my father, who is now 93 years old, let me tell you about his upbringing…

He grew up in the military. Back in his days, that’s the alternative orphanage for boys. He was never loved or hugged by someone as a child. Compassion was foreign to him. All he knew as a child was to find ways to survive.

He couldn’t give what he did not have.

It wasn’t until I became a parent, and him a grandfather, had he witnessed and later acknowledged the unconditional love I gave my son and the effort I put in to provide a somewhat functioning environment out of the what-might-appear-to-others dysfunctional circumstance.

I remember clearly on my 35th birthday I received an email from him stating he did not realize I was trying so hard at school and the kind of parent I turned out to be. Instead of crying happy tears, an unexplained rage volcanically blasted within me. I did cry. Except it was the most angry cry I’ve ever had.

Had I realized he was giving his best, even though it’s far from my standard, these angers would not have existed.

Fast forward to the most recent conversation we had when he thanked me for not treating him as how he thought I would treat him–put him in a home or completely neglect him.

As I now look back on my childhood, my father gave us, my brother and me, exactly what he received as a child–-beating and scolding. After each beating, he purchased expensive toys and clothes for us, showing a loving side of him he was not accustomed to.

He, indeed, was doing his best.

Food for Thought

Next time before we get upset by someone else’s behavior, try to take a step back and think if that person is simply giving his or her best. Our best, just like our heights, differ from person to person.

The 5th habit of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one of the mottos I live by - Seek first to understand, then to be understood. Although he is mainly stressing on having empathic communications, it also applies to before judging another person’s behavior based on our prior experience or assumption.

Each of us can only give what we have within - it could be love, patience, empathy, or it could be insecurity expressed in arrogance or fear expressed in hatred.

And with that, I leave you one of my favorite songs called Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell. You might or might not think it’s relevant, but give a try to look at what appears to be bad behaviors from both sides. Because everyone’s best is different.

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