Brené Brown’s Life Changing Question: Do You Believe People Are Doing the Best They Can?

One of the most compelling and truly useful ideas we’ve come across recently is from this short clip from Russel Brand’s podcast Under the Skin. Brené Brown shares her research into an essential question:  Do you believe people are doing the best they can?  

She admits to answering Fuck no! until she explored it further. The five or so minutes of her recounting that exploration is pure, transformative gold.


She found that people who answered YES to the question — about 50% — were extremely compassionate people who were very “boundaried”, that is, very clear about what’s okay and what’s not okay. They are compassionate because they don’t subject themselves to the abuse of other people. They answered YES to the question Do you believe people are doing the best they can?  because they knew and respected their own boundaries.

The people who answered NO had allowed themselves to be hurt by the people they thought of when asked the question.

Brown then asked them, “What if God told you that a person you knew was doing the best she could?”

And that yielded the most amazing insight:

If God told me that she was doing the best that she could, I would have to stop being angry and have to start grieving the loss…and I would have to love her, but I would have to have some boundaries about what’s ok…


So we tested out what happens if we assume someone is doing the best they can. We find it pushes us to drop anger, condemnation and opinion. And to realize that it is our job to take care and responsibility for what works for us.  Better in all ways.

4 Responses to Brené Brown’s Life Changing Question: Do You Believe People Are Doing the Best They Can?

  1. ScooterSF 08.14.2019 at 12:56pm #

    This is great, thank you. When taking a motorcycle safety class, the instructor said that when a driver cuts you off in traffic most of the times it’s just because they didn’t see you. “They just didn’t see you.” That thought turned on a light bulb in my mind, it just had never occurred to me that possibility. It has changed so much my perception when driving that my road rage has almost disappeared. But I never thought of extending it to other areas as well.

  2. [email protected] 08.14.2019 at 4:13pm #

    I’m trying to buy a 1 year subscription but it won’t let me complete payment until I click the autopayI do not want to be charged automatically, can someone help me with this?

  3. Sally Schneider 08.17.2019 at 11:02am #

    Thanks for your comment. It IS applicable and amazingly helpful just about everywhere. Along with the idea that we have the choice as to how to react; believing people are doing the best they can just makes that easier.

  4. Sally Schneider 08.17.2019 at 11:04am #

    Thank you so much for want to buy a subscription; I’m sorry you hit this glitch. The simple solution is to set up the account. Once it is up and running turn of autorenewal.
    Here is a way of turning off automatic renewal:
    1) Go to
    2) Click on subscription’s logo
    3) Click on Subscription > toggle off the Auto-renew button

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