Sometimes it’s hard to deal with difficult people. Sometimes it’s a challenge to love the people close to you who always seem to cause heartache and pain. The thing we all have to remember is that everyone is doing the best with the tools they have.
The Worst Wood Shop in the World
Imagine a middle school wood shop where not everyone is given the same tools. One girl might receive a screwdriver and nails while another is given screws and a hammer. One boy might be given scraps of wood and another may be given any lumber he wants.
More importantly, some may be given instructions, some may be given written directions, and some may just be left to figure it out for themselves. The lucky ones would be given brand new safety equipment and the others would just have to fend for themselves.
As soon as the conditions in this messed up middle school machinery came to light, the parents would become unglued. The school board would receive angry letters, and parent teacher night would be a shouting match.
Why? Because some kids get everything and some get nothing. Some get the right tools and some get the wrong ones. Worst of all, some get no guidance and some get all of it. As much as the kids might try, some are going to struggle. Sure, everyone is doing the best with the tools they have, but some tools are just incapable of doing the job right.
Easy to Understand; Hard to Let Go
We all get the metaphor. We know a screwdriver sucks for hammering in nails. We know it’s hard to complete a project without instructions. We know that having your choice of materials gives you a greater range of possibilities than just having scraps. We understand that, so why do we refuse to accept it?
The person that was raised by abusive and belittling parents was given the wrong tools and instructions their whole life, yet we expect them to be magically capable at adulthood as if they have the tools to know they’re wrong and know how to fix it.
Sure, we don’t accept abuse and we keep healthy boundaries, but that doesn’t mean we expect someone who’s never seen advanced tools know what they are or how to use them. Everyone is doing the best with the tools they have.
Which is why every one of us needs to keep a couple extra tools in our tool chest: empathy and compassion. After all, it’s not wrong to help other people, and these tools are easy to use even if we’re not always in the mood to grab the tool chest and search around for them.
The thing is that the only way the world gets better is if people start working harder to fill the gaps made by bad tools. That means that those of us that have the right tools need to use them when we can, because, God knows, sometimes we’ll have the wrong tools and we’ll need someone to be willing to use the right ones to fill in the gaps.
Everyone is doing the best with the tools they have. That’s why we need to do our best with the tools we have. Make the most of them and share happiness when we have it. We don’t have to be perfect; we just need to keep being better. The more we share these tools and teach other people to use them, the more able we all become.