Amy Rees Anderson

Assume the Good and Doubt the Bad

“Think the best of each other, especially of those you say you love.  Assume the good and doubt the bad.”  -Jeffrey R. Holland

So many times in life we hear something, or read something, or receive bits and pieces of information that leave room for interpretation of a situation or another person.  And the instant temptation is to pass judgment.  Maybe those judgments end up being right, but I think more often than not they actually end up being wrong, or too harsh, or misguided, or misinterpreted.  The question is whether we too quickly assume the worst about people, rather than giving them the benefit of the doubt and assuming the positive about them.

All of us have probably been guilty at times of assuming the worst at times when we hear a news story about someone or we read another’s written opinion of a person, or we hear friends or coworkers gossiping about another person – and unfortunately we sometimes assume the worst without first getting to know the person for ourselves or without researching all the facts about a person who may have passed on and we can no longer get to know them.

The fact we have all been guilty of doing this is unfortunate, because chances are we have cost ourselves the benefit of getting to know someone who may have become a best friend, or regarding people who have already passed away we may miss out on the chance to learn from their exemplary life they lived.

Ultimately when we assume the worst instead of the best I think we end up hurting ourselves more than the person we are judging.  We end up limiting our ability to learn and grow and we limit the relationships that might have brought joy and happiness to our lives.

At the end of this life we will be judged in the very same fashion that we chose to judge others.  That alone is motivation for me to try harder to give others the benefit of the doubt – to choose to assume the best in others and to be quicker to doubt the bad.  After all, isn’t that what treating others with charity is all about?  And given that I am nowhere near perfect myself I certainly hope that God has charity on me when it’s my time to be judged…heaven knows I will need it 🙂 !

 “Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet.  Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped.  Charity is refusing to take advantage of anther’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us.  Charity is expecting the best of each other.”  -Marvin J. Ashton

Have a great start to your new week everyone! Maybe even make the goal to assume the good and doubt the bad this week. I plan to!




  • Ervin Beal says:

    Your website came up unexpectedly in a web search a couple of days ago. Thanks for your well-written thoughts here and over the last few days that I have seen. They add to what I have come to know and try to live. Your blog today is a familiar chord in my life, so I thought to share the following.

    To me, assuming the bad and sharing those assumptions is similar to confessing other people’s sins. In doing so there is no happiness. The following has brought me peace in response to the mistakes and weaknesses of others, and in dealing with my own:

    In repentance, I acknowledge my sins, strive to put away any desire that is not uplifting and try to bring forth fruit meet for repentance so that I may be forgiven and eventually filled with our Savior’s Love. If others offend, it is for me to forgive all men. How can I be forgiven if I forgive not others? It is for me to love those whom Jesus loves, from its most tender expression to the toughest Love of the Warrior.

    After I am forgiven, because of His lovingkindness and tender mercies toward me, I will be filled with His Love. Filled with His Love, again I cannot confess the sins of others, for I “[know] the infinite value of the people [I meet]”, (1) my heart will yearn for others’ repentance, my soul desiring to help them if I can…And, thusly,a son desiring to become like his Father, to have Peace, His Peace “that passeth all understanding” (2)

    (1) Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2012
    (2) Thomas S. Monson, April 1994.

  • Anonymous says:

    You have a great Blog!!! 🙂 thanks for sharing this!

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