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I think because I need...

52 little practices for a year of big change.

Judgments play a role in many decisions you and I make. In 2018 I decided to buy a new car. I searched google for using the search “best gas mileage AWD car.” About 2 weeks later I was driving a 2016 Subaru Impreza. All kinds of judgments went into the decisions I to get from driving my 2006 Prius to driving the new to me Impreza.

  1. It’s time for me to get a new car.

  2. I need to have an AWD car.

  3. I should get a car with the best gas mileage possible.

  4. A slightly used car will be more affordable for me.

  5. There's no reason to take more than a couple weeks to make this decision.

  6. I’ll make whatever decision I make the right one for me.

None of these “judgments” were absolute truths. They were just the judgments I made which enabled me to get a new car within a few weeks of considering the idea.

Each judgment I made had underlying judgments. If we look at those underlying judgments I can see the values I brought into my decision.

Top Judgment

Underlying Judgment


It’s time for me to get a new car.

I need to have an AWD car.

A different car will be safer and more reliable than the one I have. I need a reliable car so that I can get to the places I want to go to take care of what matters to me. An AWD drive car will be the safest and most reliable car for me because I live in the mountains.

I want safety and reliability in my life. I value my ability to support others by showing up for them.

I should get a car with the best gas mileage possible.

A slightly used car will be more affordable for me.

A car with better gas mileage and a used car will save me money. It's important I am financially sustainable and stable so that I can be present with others and support them. A car with getter gas mileage and a used car will have less of an environmental footprint.

I value being present with others and being able to support them.

I value the earth and want to care for it.

There's no reason to take more than a couple weeks to make this decision. I’ll make whatever decision I make the right one for me.

Taking longer than a couple weeks would be a waste of my time.

Shopping isn't fun.

It's good to take ownership for how I experience what is happening.

I value pleasure.

I want my efforts to matter and to have purpose.

I value power in my world and choice.

By becoming curious about my judgments, and looking for the needs underlying them I have connected with strong underlying values I hold:

physical and emotional safety, reliability, being present and able to support others, meaning and purpose in my life, power in my world, pleasure, and caring for the planet we live on.

If I was going to have a discussion with someone about what car to purchase it would be helpful to hold an awareness of these underlying needs during my discussion. It would keep me connected to what matters to me, empowering me to advocate for those needs RATHER than strategies which may or may not meet those needs. (remember practice #1- advocating for needs rather than strategies).

Not listening to or arguing with or judging and disconnecting myself from those I am with is not in alignment with “being present and supportive of others.” I love remembering this need of mine when I am sharing space with others. Whether I am feeling comfortable or not this is a need I can attend to in EVERY conversation I have. No matter what the subject, no matter what the level of agreement or disagreement I can be present with those I am with and curious about them. When I bring myself into presence and stay connected to them with I am fulfilling some my fundamental life affirming needs. I am experiencing PRESENCE. I am creating PURPOSE with my attention and my willingness to stay open and connected. I am giving myself opportunities to SERVE by listening, gaining understanding of others and learning about what matters to them.


  1. Notice a judgment (at least one a day would be AWESOME - set a goal and stick to it).

  2. Write it down.

  3. Look for the needs underlying the judgment.

Here are some more examples of needs which could underlie some judgments I made up.

"I think" (Judgment)

"because I need" (Possible Needs)

He’s not listening to me

to be heard, to be understood, to matter, to be safety, to contribute

She’s never on time.

to matter, to be respected, to be effective, to predictability, power in my world, freedom, connection, trust

They were going too fast.

safety, to matter, to be seen, to have others contribute to my world.

They are controlling.

freedom, choice, autonomy, safety, celebration, joy, self-actualization, self-transcendence.

They don't care about the truth.

safety, freedom, choice, hope, power in my world, shared reality.

He's disrespectful.

respect, trust, to matter, to be seen, to be understood, power in my world, connection.

​I'm not good enough.

​to matter, to be valued, belonging, contribution, connection, intimacy, self-actualization.

I could go on and on with this list. It's a fun practice - to listen for my judgments, or the judgments of others and guess at the underlying needs.

The needs I give for the judgments above aren't absolutes. I'm not saying these ARE the needs underlying the judgments I listed. I am just saying each one of these needs is one I might consider as a possibility when hearing that judgment. There are many other needs which could underlie each judgment. In-fact ANY need could underlie ANY judgment, because it's all made up. We make the connections up in our heads based on our experiences and the stories about how the world works which have been given to us.


  1. Listen for a judgment. The mainstream news channels can be a fun and easy places to hear judgments. Practice listening for your own judgments and for others judgments.

  2. Write the judgmental thought down.

  3. Brainstorm the needs which may be underlying the judgmental thought.

Tell me what you think!

Universal Human Needs:

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