Ways to Suspend and Transform Judgment
None of us like to admit to being judgmental, but the truth is we are. All of us, to one degree or another. It’s part of our human nature and by that I don’t mean we’re born with an inherent trait of being judgmental; we learn to be judgmental. Very often we aren’t even aware that judgment is going on. And in those moments when we are aware of it, we may call it something else and tell ourselves or others, “I’m just observing (whatever it is).”
Judgment is taught in very unintentional ways when, as very young children, we are reminded to not speak to strangers, to not play with certain kids, to not tell others about your family secrets, whatever they might be.
As a boy growing up, I was told many things about how little boys were supposed to act and heard lots of labels for anyone who seemed to be different. The same was true about girls, particularly as I reached my teens. Girls who make out on a first date or allowed a boy to go too far were sluts while I also heard it was only natural for a young man to want to go as far as he can—that was normal—but he should avoid girls who had loose morals! Talk about confusing, mixed messages.
I remember, as a young teenager, how my parents would exchange looks whenever I mentioned two women whose lawns and pool I used to maintain during the summer and fall seasons. They were both in their forties and they treated me very well, bringing lemonade and cookies out to me mid-way through each Saturday I was there. They acted like a married couple, both rather mannish in their actions and dress, and I was old enough to wonder if they were lesbians, but it was the looks exchanged between my parents—particularly the furrowed brows on my father’s face—that transformed my wonder into judgment: they were different. They weren’t normal.
And I imagine it was equally as confusing and maybe even a little scary for girls growing up. All these messages that were part of the arsenal used by parents, all in an effort to “protect and raise good kids.” Young teenage girls shouldn’t kiss on a first date. Making sure they met any young man who wanted to date their daughter and perhaps sometimes deciding to not give permission were also ways parents tried to shape their children, all done as a part of the job of parenting. How might these have been interpreted by young girls? I can’t know for certain, but I imagine many young girls also heard reminders like “Smile sweetly, Honey!” or proscriptions such as “Mind your manners, dear.” If I’d been born as a girl, I think the message I would have heard was “Don’t be yourself!”
How was it for you? What kinds of restrictive messages did you hear growing up? Whatever they were, you likely had several choices: to dismiss them entirely by “tuning out” (and that’s something most of us didn’t have the capacity or courage to do until we were in our teens); to absorb them as rules to incorporate into the rule book for how a girl/woman or a boy/man was supposed to act; or resist and rebel (and pay the consequences). This is an opportunity for you to consider what messages you received growing up. Which have served you well and which haven’t?
I didn’t share with you in the previous chapter how my judgments showed up in my everyday adult life (and sometimes still do). I share these now because, as I’ve said before, any judgments or beliefs we hold about ourselves—whether we’re aware of them or not—we also hold as truths about others. If I’m feeling uncomfortable around you, feeling like I can’t be me, then the reason in my mind is because I can’t trust you and I’ll come up with one of any number of false beliefs about you: You’re just jealous; you’re a phony; you just can’t take the truth when I tell you how I see you. Guess what? Those are all projections of a wounded part of me, aspects of me that I’m afraid of owning. Can you see now why it is so very important, as we do this introspective, inner work, as we become open to looking at these shadow parts of ourselves, we do it in a consciousness of compassionate curiosity? Why? Because they are not who we truly are. They are just aspects of our conditioned human persona. They are a reflection of false beliefs we’ve taken on as who we are, and it is time we suspended our self-judgments.
Steps to Suspending Our Judgments
Here are some steps which will enable you to do that. But before you begin, I suggest you make sure there’s no music or TV or other distractions that might divert your attention.
1. Take several deep breaths and, concentrating on the sound and feeling of your breathing, relax your body and quiet your mind. Allow yourself the time to become relaxed and experience a quieted mind that isn’t filled with thoughts; just allow yourself to experience the quiet, the stillness.
2. Next, state aloud the following commitment: I commit to being kind to myself and refrain from any form of self-judgment as I prepare to bring to the surface long-held beliefs I’ve had about myself. I am willing, right now, to give voice to these beliefs and write them down in my companion notebook and then reconsider whether they are true or not; I am only suspending judgment, not giving up my right to reclaim the judgment after I’ve spent time being compassionately curious about it. It is my choice! NOTE: As I always caution, if something rises to the surface and you feel yourself react to the thought with a lot of fear and anxiety and you would rate the level of anxiety as being above a 6 on a range of 0 to 10, then do not attempt to explore that self-judgment as part of the inner work you’re being invited to do as you read this booklet. Such issues are best approached with the gentle support of a therapist or trusted minister.
3. Now consider each judgment or label you’ve uncovered and written down in your companion notebook (if one is not available to you at this time, any notebook will do). Keep in mind, you’re evaluating a habitual way of believing or thinking, or maybe a label you’ve taken on and attached, unintentionally, to yourself. If you find yourself wanting to put the label or trait on someone else, that simply is the wounded part of you wanting to blame, rather than claim. This might be a perfect opportunity for you to say aloud, “Silly me! There I go again!” It’s not a big deal because it takes a lot of practice and “acting as if” to change an old behavior or pattern of thinking. It’s not a reason to beat yourself up; you just “missed the mark” and get to choose again. To be clear, however, we must claim all aspects of ourselves, even those parts we don’t like, before we can ever expect to be free of the limitations they cause in our lives.
4. As you write down and evaluate each judgment or label, make sure you weigh the advantages and disadvantages of letting go of the belief/judgment and write them down. Have you come to a point where you can “own” the judgment/label with a reasonable amount of comfort and perhaps even experiencing a feeling of relief? “There! I’ve said it! The cat’s out of the bag and it’s not so bad! I’m not so bad!!” You’ve just turned the corner and are well on your way to a new level of Life! To seeing yourself and others more clearly. Before you move, put an asterisk next to or circle the belief/judgment with whatever is your favorite color, one that perhaps represents enlightenment or progress for you.
Now it’s time to take a look at how we can transform our judgments.
Transforming Our Judgments
You’ve already taken the most important first step toward gaining a consciousness of self-acceptance and that is in recognizing and defining some of the critical and limiting beliefs which have, until this moment, been pretty much running your life. Well, maybe not running it, but certainly keeping you from having a greater awareness of your strengths and of what more you are capable of accomplishing when you set your mind and your heart to it.
Take a look at the items you’ve written down and, for each one, ask yourself this question: Is what I’ve written down 100% true today, in this present time? Is it perhaps only true once in a while? Or can I honestly say, now that I look at it, it used to be true about me, but it’s no longer who or how I am?
If you found yourself very quickly responding that it’s 100% true today, then I encourage you to go back a page to step 1 of suspending your judgment, breathe back into your heart space, and really listen to your inner voice, your intuition. If your answer remains the same, then that suggests your answers to the next two questions will be NO. Trust the inner guidance. This is true for you right now and the fact that you’ve been able to name and own a part of you that believes this is enough for right now. I would just offer you this as an affirmation to include in your prayer and meditation times:
“I allow myself to reconsider a limiting self-belief at any time in the future
as I rely upon the inner guidance from the spiritual essence of God within me.”
If, however, you find it is only true once in a while, then you’ve just recognized yourself as a spiritual being having a human moment! It’s time to understand these occasional moments as being times and situations where something has occurred or been said, or some expectation hasn’t been met and you’ve been triggered. One of your shadow beliefs is trying to take charge again, blocking you from seeing and expressing from your spiritual essence, from the real truth. This old habit is just that, an old habitual way of seeing yourself and the world around you, one that you’ve already recognized as no longer serving you. And it’s a perfect opportunity to say…you guessed it! “Silly me! There I go again! In other words, recognize it, own it, and then release it with a smile rather than a frown.
Remind yourself whenever you seem to fall short of what you know you’re capable of doing, “If I could’ve, I would’ve!” If this happens when you’re around other people and you catch some body language that leads you to wonder if they’re now judging you? Don’t stay there because what may be going on in their head is none of your business! I like to remind myself, when that happens, to ask, “Is it my business, God’s business, or someone else’s business?” And if I think it is my business, then I’d best make sure I get quiet, spend a few minutes in prayer, listening for the inner guidance I rely upon to guide my actions before I do anything. After practicing that a few times, I generally find I can answer the question almost immediately. The answer that comes to me leaves me feeling in alignment with who I AM.
If you’re able to see clearly that the belief about yourself was true at some time in the past but no longer is true or serves you now, then it’s time to release it and leave it as a part of an old story about how you used to be. There are two tools I highly recommend you utilize to support and reinforce your decision. One is to create a Denial Statement and the second tool that is helpful is to create an Affirmation Statement. These two tools also can be useful to apply in the situation we just looked at a few moments ago, when you catch yourself about to be triggered by an old belief, one you’ve looked at and worked on releasing before and, in a stressful moment, have been triggered.
A Denial Statement is a statement that serves to dissolve the power our mental mind has given to a false belief, an untruth. It is not the denial of something that may, in fact, exist in reality; it is a denial of its power over us. Here are a couple of examples:
· “The belief that I am not enough is a false belief and no longer has any power over me!”
· “The opinions and actions of others have no power over me!”
This would be a good time for you to practice writing one or two of your own.
An Affirmation is a positive statement of Truth. In “The Revealing Word” Charles Fillmore states it is “the declaring of Truth; the mental movement that asserts confidently and persistently the Truth of Being in the face of all appearances to the contrary.” Remember what was discussed before, that we are each made in the image and likeness of God, that we have within us a spark of all that God is. God is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent; therefore, nothing but good can exist where God is. So, no matter whatever negativity may be apparent in the world around us, it is not the Truth.
Here are some affirmations that I have paired up with the two previously offered denial statements:
· “I am in tune with infinite Wisdom and have faith that my life is unfolding in accordance with God’s divine flow.”
· “Divine Love and Understanding guide me in all my affairs.”
These are ones I have used. Now it’s time for you to practice creating your own. Remember, what we’re doing when we create an affirmation is to create a statement of Truth about who we really are as spiritual Beings. It is a practice in owning what and who you are, what strengths you would have to possess and express in order to BE who you’ve come here to be! That’s a question that I ask myself any time I’m feeling “less than” and it comes from a wonderful book titled “Who have you come here to BE? (101 possibilities for contemplation),” co-written by Dr. Rima Bonario, Dr./Rev. Jane Simmons, and Rev. Kelly Isola, a book I think everyone should have within their home library!
Here are my final words on the subjects of suspending and transforming our judgments. Most of our false beliefs have been a part of our lives for many years, creating automatic neuropathways in our brains. It is only when we reach a point in our lives that we begin to ask ourselves, “Is that all there is?” If you’re at all like me, then you may have been asking “Why do I feel so disconnected and alone at times or just plain unfulfilled (despite all the good things that may be in my life)?” That’s how it was for me. I had lots of reasons to be grateful and yet I privately felt like something was missing. And what I discovered was it was me! With all the inner work I had been doing, all the studies, classes, and workshops in which I had invested time and money, even when I was presenting workshops like “Praying from the Mind, Praying from the Heart,” I had been totally unaware of just how my shadow beliefs were still directing aspects of my life. I now know that I “knew about” but didn’t really “Know” the Truth of the material I was presenting. It wasn’t until I finally reached a point when Life forced me to stop hiding from this fact and I began to bring these shadow beliefs out into the open and take a very painful look at them.
What I can share with you now is that when I became consistent in my intention to get out of God’s way and begin to listen in daily times of silence, followed by a time of contemplation, guidance began to show up as I slowed down, simplified my life a little, and remained more in the moment, open to the many ways in which my guidance comes. And as I have done that, the need to judge anything or anyone has dramatically lessened.
In the next chapter I will be doing my best to demonstrate, through my writing style and the little life episodes I will be sharing with you, just how hilarious (that might be a stretch so I’ll just use the word “funny”) life can be. These will all be times when I said to myself, and sometimes aloud, “Silly me! There I go again!”