I want to talk about an unpopular topic today... judgment. It seems like there is a lot of judgment going on right now... from your perspective on wearing a mask to your political affiliation, it feels like everyone has an opinion.
While judgement often has a negative connotation, it is actually an important function of the nervous system that helps to keep us alive. Our brains use sensory information to make judgments about the world around us to decide if certain situations are safe or not. It makes sense that when we are living in an unprecedented circumstance (a pandemic) our brains are constantly judging situations around us.
This is helpful for surviving... but not for building relationships or realizing our life's purpose.
When we are stressed, our judgment is impaired and goes into overdrive. We are in survival mode, and can't access the rational part of the brain. Since the nervous system likes consistency and repetition, we will often judge things based on past experiences, and will react in ways we did previously. This means we often fall into old patterns of behavior and can't think of new, creative ideas for solving problems. We get stuck in a rut and continue to repeat the same things we always did.
When we are living from a place of judgment, our options are limited because we have already made a decision. We get stuck in "black or white" thinking and make harsh assumptions about people or situations before we know all sides of the story. We view things as "right or wrong" and dig our heels in when others try to talk about an opposing experience.
In yoga, there is the idea of "viveka" which translates as "discernment'. This is the practice of noticing the world as it is to uncover the Truth. This is different from judgment because it is observing things as they are without labeling as "good" or "bad". Viveka is seeing without judgment. When we practice discernment, we are in a state of growth and are open to possibilities. We can imagine new ways of doing things that we might not have thought of in a stressed state of mind.
If you find yourself stuck in judgment and want to move towards discernment, try using these 4 questions, based on "The Work" by Byron Katie:
Is this thought/belief true?
Can I know that it is always 100% true?
How is this thought/belief impacting me? Examine how your body feels, emotions that may come up, and how you interact with others when you are experiencing this "judgy thought"
What would I be like if I weren't having this thought/belief? How would I feel and act?
Once you have answered the questions, decide who you want to be... the person with or without the thought. This practice has helped me when I am feeling judgmental, and I have used it with clients to help them move through areas of thir life where they are stuck and need to change their perspective.
Considering we are living in a time where schools and workplaces are having to create new norms for a situation we have never experienced before... we need to be able to think outside the box! We need to be able to view situations and people with an open mind so we can create solutions that will move us all forward.
This is why I believe it is so important to keep our stress down... and why I have so many freebies and programs that help people to decrease their stress and increase their calm. One of my favorites is the free 3-day Wellness Guide, which leads you through simple activities to help you strengthen your nervous system.
Cheers to being discerning and compassionate!