UnknownLove has been on my mind, and in my heart.  It’s Spring, for one, and everything is bursting out all over!  More than that, it’s painfully obvious that Love and love, and kindness, acceptance, benevolence… are so very needed in our world today… and seem sorely lacking in many ways and places.

To my dismay, I’m discovering how my critical cast, my judgements, so many and varied — stand in the way of opening to love.  Exploring the subtleties has been most illuminating.

So here it is: my habitual patterns of judging can actually create a toxic internal environment.

Now, I am very aware that our internal environment, our thoughts, feelings, mind patterns, as well as the food we eat, social connections, patterns of sleep and exercise…. are vital to health and well-being.  But it has only recently dawned on me how my critical cast, my judgements, factor in as well.

I’ve been kinda tolerant of my judging mind, and it has gotten gentler, softer, less predominant, both toward myself and toward others.  But it’s definitely still there.  I judge my and others’ bodies, people’s grammar, their environmental behaviors or lack thereof… The list could go on.  I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this (!), and we each have our pet areas.  It’s less the content, though, than the process, and the way that judgment taints whatever else is going on…. The power and pervasiveness of this is a new insight for me.

IMG_7226An example.  I was out for a glorious, early spring day of cross country skiing with a friend. Talking at a break in the sun, I recalled a time some years ago where I was very upset about people using Snowmobiles for pleasure and sport in the back country…and how it had created unpleasant tension among the people I was with.  I felt into the way my mind and body contracted, how my face got hard, my voice changed, my gut was in a knot… in short, as I reflected on this experience of years ago, I could feel the toxic energy it created…

And, here’s the kicker: I am realizing that this actually happens, more or less, whenever I am judging myself or others.  When I am judging, I am spilling toxicity into my system — it felt sort of green-grey, sticky and gooey!  No wonder I sometimes find it challenging to love… to simply feel the sweetness.  Quite often, in addition to kindness and acceptance, I also have some comparative or evaluative stuff running… and the comparisons, the judging, contaminate my openness, my kindness, sweetness, openness.  WOW.

It’s not as though it’s impossible for both to be there.  I often observe how I feel kind AND critical.  And I have been interested to see and hold both.  What I’m experiencing now, though, is how the judgements lessen my kindness, make it harder to savor the sweetness, have an open heart.

I’m not wrong or bad because I have judgements.  I have accepted this trait of mine, and come to let it be.  What is new for me, though, is seeing the way in which I am harming myself with this familiar habit of judging.  WOW again.

Here’s another kicker: since everything is interconnected, I am spewing this grey-green sticky, gooey mess into the universe!

Now, you might not see things this way – (and you might be a snowmobiler.  That’s not the point… those are other discussions).  I invite you simply to notice what happens for you when you are judging — yourself or others.  On the sunny bench a day ago, I could sense into how much easier and simpler it would be to feel love, to live lovingly, if the judgments weren’t mixed in.

Easier said than done. But becoming aware is the beginning.  Observing changes what’s observed!

And it’s not that I think that polluting, or tar sands, or human trafficking… or back-country snowmobiling…are perfectly OK.  That’s another issue.  What we do about injustice and inequities, problems and predicaments, needs consideration and action.  What doesn’t help is the kind of judging that has been habitual for me.

When I was teaching Conflict Resolution and Mediation many years ago, one of the phrases that was transformative for me, my students and clients, was Shift Judgement to Curiosity.  This shift changes the situation entirely.  We also added Compassion to Curiosity.  When we are able to make the shift from Judgement to Curiosity and Compassion, the world, the conflict, the context, the community… are transformed, lightened, clarified.  The potential for love and understanding, for unfolding and movement, resolution, goodwill and peace are enormously enhanced.

And our inner environment is not being poisoned!

Jill Schroder is the author of BECOMING: Journeying Toward Authenticity.  BECOMING is an invitation for self-reflection, and to mine our memorable moments for insights, meaning, and growth.  Check the website for a sample chapter, or see the reviews to get a flavor for the volume.  Your feedback is most welcome.

Share this: