52 Little Practices for a Big Year of Change.
Practice: Notice and question the judgments you make. Notice at least 3 judgments a day. Write them down to help you notice and reflect them.
Read the phrases below and label them as judgments or objective observations.
“It’s a beautiful day.”
“That car is driving too fast.”
“He’s always making assumptions.”
“She never listens.”
“He’s so clean!”
“She’s so friendly”
I tricked you. In my opinion, every one of those phrases is a judgment. Compare them to these:
“The sun is shining today. I love it!”
“I think the speed that the car is driving is unsafe.”
“He said, “you didn’t want to come with me anyway.”
“She didn’t come home when I asked her to.”
“He did his dishes every night after dinner.”
“I saw you wearing your hat all through the ceremony.”
“She smiled at me and asked me about my day.”
Do you notice the difference?
If you are anything like me, you go through your day making judgments, often without even knowing it. It’s debated how much faster the unconscious brain is at processing information than the conscious brain. It’s not debated that it’s A LOT faster! Your judgments are your brain's way of efficiently contextualizing the world so that you can function in it. You would be paralyzed if you had to consciously process every minute detail your senses receive and consciously choose how to respond. Your unconscious does this processing for you, tossing out what it deems unnecessary, holding on to and expanding on what it decides is important by drawing from past experience. It then sends messages to where they need to go in your body and your intellectual thought processes. Before you even have the thought, “this situation is dangerous” your unconscious has made the “this situation is dangerous” judgment. Your heart starts pounding. Your muscles tense and you may wonder why you suddenly have the urge to run…and then you think, “This is dangerous.”
It can really screw things up!
This system works great. Until it doesn’t. The system is effective and efficient. Until it isn’t. And when it isn’t it can really screw things up.
Judgments can disconnect you from your true experience. judgments can disconnect you or block you from seeing another’s true experience. judgments shut the door on new information. They are stories you tell yourself about what’s happened, not objective information about what is actually happening. These stories and the illusions they weave can get compoundingly (I made that word up) complicated when you consider that history is in itself a story which was shaped by judgments. His“story”, her”story”, your”story”. Your story of the past is a story about what happened, not the truth of what happened.
If you value freedom, if you value truth, if you value being able to understand and influence the world around you in a way which aligns with your values, an important first step is to become AWARE of your judgments. Start catching them, noticing them. Start questioning them.
An easy way to start is to look for these words in your thoughts (and your spoken words):
Always-She’s always late.
Never-He never does the dishes.
Good-He’s such a good boy.
Bad-I’m really bad at that.
Right-I was right to call the teacher.
Wrong-It would be wrong for me to stay out tonight.
They-They have no respect for the rules.
You-You don’t like it when I bring home cookies.
With the last two, just look out for when you start sentences with they and you. Sentences that start with they or you are often judgments, assumptions, evaluations, stereotypes, or generalizations. Why not get more specific? Own your beliefs and your values rather than blaming others. “They don’t care about the environment” might connect you with someone who shares your belief about “them” whoever they are. But where does that get you in your desire to care for the environment? Wouldn’t you both get farther with, “I care about the environment. I believe recycling is a way to care for the environment. There are people who don’t recycle. I wonder what needs they are attending to by not recycling? I wonder how we can attend to those needs so that recycling becomes an option those people are willing to try.”
Let me know what you think!
The Practice for the week:
Notice at least 3 judgments a day. Write them down to help you notice them.
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