Whenever we are stuck and suffering, we get ensnared by victim mentality: an intricate collection of judgmental thinking patterns that we inherited from our cultures and upbringing.
This inner part of us gets caught up in complaining, fault-finding, gossiping and worrying. And, the more we feed this part of ourselves, the more we harm ourselves and the world.
It’s so important to work gently and firmly with this part of ourselves if we want to live empowered and loving lives.
I’ve written before (here) about the practice of not judging our judgments, but changing our relationship with this kind of judgmental thinking is so critical in our personal transformation, that I feel inspired to share a few additional thoughts this week:
1. For me, the highest goal is to be nonjudgmental and this includes not judging judgments. (Take that in.)
2. We are wired for judgment and dualism. These aspects of our thinking are not going away. We need contrasts in order to navigate in the world. We need the experiences of liking and disliking; attraction and repulsion; knowing if we are hungry or full. These experiences in and of themselves are not bad. Make peace with this part of your embodied experience.
3. Suffering does not come from simply having judgments arise within you; suffering arises when you attach to and identify with your judgments, and then use them to “other” yourself and others. This creates splitting and fragmentation in both your internal and external worlds.
4. Attaching to and identifying with your judgments, leads to an increase in fear or anger, and these emotions then exaggerate and minimize your perceptions of yourself and others. The shadows on the walls become more terrifying than the mouse scuttling across the floor. Fear-based judgments can severely distort your perceptions.
4. The light side of judgment is discernment and wisdom: you can use your judgments as stepping stones towards a higher potential and a deeper truth in any given situation.
5. To find the gifts buried within your judgments, watch judgments as they arise, take them lightly, get curious about them and search for the deeper truth underneath each judgmental thought.
6. How Exactly? Make a list of your judgments; just bullet-point them all out.
What am I feeling as I think in this way?
What do I habitually want to do or say when thinking like this?
What does this judgment tell me about what I am deeply valuing or wanting? (Use this list for help)
As I become more aware of what I am valuing and wanting, what would I like to say next to help me get more of what I really want?
If my judgment is “You are sooo damn selfish,” I might be feeling angry, hurt, annoyed, or desperate.
As I think of you as selfish, I habitually want to start giving you evidence of all the selfish and inconsiderate things you’ve done to raise your awareness and get you to repent and change. I habitually want to change you and educate you.
This judgment may be pointing to my deep desire for mutuality and consideration. Maybe I have a longing to know that I matter to you as much as you matter to yourself? Maybe what it highlights for me is my inner drive to care for all people and to live in a world in which we are generous with one another.
(Here are a few more:
I think you’re selfish = I want consideration;
I think you’re mean = I want/value kindness;
I think you’re dependent, needy = I want/value choice and freedom
As I put my attention on my needs, I might choose to offer you generosity, mutuality, and consideration in the way that I invite you into a conversation about how to make things better.
There are – of course – an infinite amount of things I could try next, but the point is that when I am focused on what I am actually needing and valuing, that my next choice can be more closely aligned with my values, and I can show up with much more integrity and honestly myself.
If you’d like a worksheet to help you translate your judgments into the underlying values, needs, and longings that are actually motivating you, you can find a downloadable sheet at the bottom of my resources page in the Handouts Section! Enjoy!
One last thought: Remember, judgments often lead to defensiveness.
We can go one-down, into inferiority and shame … or we can go one-up, into superiority and blame.
Both are toxic.
The trick is to stay one-with yourself and others … But, more on that next week!