I have committed most of my adult life to my growing edges. Despite the painful realizations that come with learning about an area that needs growth, I am eventually grateful after much kicking, screaming and (possibly) a few self loathing, angry rants. Needless to say, the growing edge I am about to share with you – is far from being done with me. It may never end. Blech! is all that comes to my mind.
Many months ago I spent a day out with my friend and at the end of the day I saw that she posted on FaceBook (Yes- it really is the devil sometimes) that she felt she needed to be more positive and stop focusing on saying so many negative things. Of course, I was concerned I may have been playing a part in speaking from a negative place and frankly felt it was right. But- of course, I didn’t really want to listen and allowed myself to get distracted by the next pretty FaceBook picture.
Then, another event. A few weeks ago I was hanging out with other friends. I made many different judgements about the game, what the band and others were wearing and told several personal stories about how other people were not self aware while, I, obviously was. My friends laughed at my “jokes” and agreed with me on the problems that other people had. More than half way through the evening it just hit me. I can’t say if it was the way my friends acted towards me- maybe they grew weary of my complaining and acting like I had all the answers. Maybe I could hear myself for the first time and all I heard was an egotistical whine that started making my head hurt. What ever it was, I quickly dove into a positive story of how a local waitress, who recognized me from my TV interviews, tried to pay for my lunch after she asked me a personal question. I simply encouraged her to listen to her intuition. But, was my happy-happy story just trying to ice a cake made out of mud?
Holy Shit! What kind of person do I think I am?? REALLY? I think I am SOOOOO special that I can call out- by name– other people and judge them? I was reeling from this realization and worse, out came the shame. I told no one for a week. I typically sustain my shame resilience by talking to my inner circle just as soon as possible. It had been a long time since I had considered growing shame by silence.
To give myself some credit, I have grown in this area immensely. Before waking up to my life and growing from victim to survivor, I was asleep. Hhuuucchheewww……HHhhuuuccchhheewwww…..I lived my life without clarity, compassion or connection. I wallowed in negativity and I was my own worst target. I participated in a level of self hatred that resembled an inner demon. Judgement was my middle name. I was an ugly person.
Here is how things tend to go now:
I have an interaction with a person or a system and it does not meet my expectations. I become angry and sometimes even enraged. I find someone that is safe, someone who has earned the right to know my story and then, I emotionally throw up all over them. I hop up and down believing those initial moments of anger give me the right to be judgmental. Judge. Judge. Judgy Pants. Whew! I can get on a roll if I let myself.
But I never stay there long. I work hard at watering my empathy and compassion. I put emphasis on expressing gratitude and like any good therapist, I reframe what has happened, seeking out the nugget of goodness that always exists. The struggle lies in that I have been such a strong believer that bottling up the frustration and anger is not in my best interest. But seriously, if you heard me, I sound like a self-righteous bitch. The truth is I am not better and the more I judge, the more I act like I am separate from others.
Finally, the week passes and I tell my spouse my revelation. And like much of the good wisdom I learn in life, he called me back to some of the Buddhist principles he actively works on himself. He told me that when I talked about what I was experiencing that to maintain what the buddhists call “right speech” and “right relationship” I would speak what I was feeling- what I was experiencing. It could relieve that struggle and keep me away from judging others. For example, someone does not follow through with an agreement. I can talk about feeling disappointed and hurt, even angry, but that every statement I made about what I perceived was true about them (and inevitably negative) was just an assumption. The only thing true is what I am feeling. Everything else is me ranting with my judgy pants on.
I am shaken. NOW WHAT DO I SAY? I thought my bestest friends were suppose to hear me bitch and moan. How do I successfully relinquish my feelings without judgement? I can’t keep acting like I am separate. Because the truth is I am separate from nothing and at any time, I could be that person that made that awful mistake. I have been that person that someone else is hopping up and down about to their best friend.
So I need a life line. I have studied and read and studied Brene Brown’s work. But if I could call her up and ask her to help me understand how she successfully gives up judgement, I would be a happy girl. Give me the formula (or better yet, an elixir)!
Among my favorite phrase’s of the beloved Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is, “NO MUD, NO LOTUS.” So today, I might be making mud cake, but perhaps one day a lotus will bloom and I will experience more success in practicing loving kindness rather than judgement.