Feeling judged or judgmental? Either way, it all comes back to you. 2 Replies This past week I have spent some time stuck – in the recesses of my own brain. My mind has been meandering the dungeons where all of my dark voices loom and linger. The voices of my ego come in many forms. The perfectionist. The critic. The berater. The degrader. The pessimist. The victim. And of course, the strings are being pulled by the voice that is really in control of them all: the fear-monger. The overwhelming voice(s) we hear in our own heads just happen to be what we most notice in others (perceive in our surroundings) and, therefore, share with and extend out into the world. It was these voices, in the process of living life, that took me down the rabbit hole. I had been working on an idea for this week’s blog, or maybe I should say “not working” on it. While I was feeling frustrated and a little stressed about not knowing what to write – mired in the funk of fear, unworthiness, not being enough, incapability, overall wrongness and, ultimately, judgment – the phone rang. (Pay close attention to how this snowballs!) A friend and fellow mom called to ask if I had seen the email that had been sent just moments before, from the local zoo where our sons (who are close friends) would be volunteering this summer. I had but, focused on work, decided to wait until that evening to look into it further and review with my son. She proceeded to tell me her plans for her son and how the email was a link for the sign-up for dates/times/job duties on a first-come, first-serve basis. And what were my plans for my son. (Was that a question?) And we should get signed up. And how we should sign them up for the same times. NOW. I could feel myself pushing back. How did she even have a plan when the email had just arrived? This is something I wanted to discuss with my son. Get his feedback. In a timeline that worked for him and me. Simple, right? So why was I irritated? JUDGMENT #1: We judge when we feel that someone or something is not meeting our perceived needs and “should be” meeting them. This judgment stems from fear that our needs will not be met or from lack of trust in ourselves to meet our own needs. In the case of the phone call, I overlooked my own needs – to stay focused on completing my work (a form of procrastination). And in the process, I projected my frustration onto my friend for not meeting my needs, for placing her focus/needs before my own. I’m not saying any of this to place blame on her. All she was doing was doing her thing…what was important to her in the moment. I ended the phone call by telling her I would talk with my son and get back to her. I wasn’t going to sign him up for anything until I got his input. Later that day, moments after picking my son up from school, still in the car, his phone rang. It was my friend’s son, frantically informing him that they needed to sign up for the same shifts – the shifts his mom had already determined were best for them. NOW. We weren’t even home yet. My son didn’t even know about the email. And I hadn’t even had a chance to mention it. My son, sensing my irritation, told his friend that he would take a look at the email, talk with me, and get back to him. To which his friend replied, “Hurry.” Back at my home office, my son began reviewing the email. Our friends’ sense of urgency had now set the tone for the scenario and how it would play out. Their priority had somehow become ours. And I really needed to get back to work. So at this point, I’m fuming. Why? Good question. Judgment #2: We judge when we believe that someone is attempting to cause harm to us, use us or manipulate us (or someone we love). This too stems from fear. I know you’re shocked! We buy into the belief that someone’s attempts (conscious or unconscious) automatically mean that we ARE harmed, used or manipulated, by default. We’re defeated before we even start! I felt manipulated and controlled (however unintentional) into taking actions and making choices that were not in our best interest, on a timeline that did not work best for us. I could see my son becoming flustered. In an attempt to appease me, I’m fairly certain, he offered to handle it himself (which was very mature of him…and I did, ultimately, want it to be his decision). However, I was the sole person who would need to get him to and from the venue all summer long, which would be an hour of my day each day. So it really required more thought, coordination of calendars and planning. Poor kid was caught in the middle of everyone else’s agendas, fears and judgments, and he hadn’t even been home from school for 15 minutes! Despite his willingness to handle things, he had questions about the online scheduling program that needed to be answered. I ended up using his questions to quiz him further on what I thought he should already know or be able to figure out himself. Adding more pressure to the situation. Taking the path of least resistance – he started signing up for everything he saw his friend signed up for. I couldn’t blame him really. (Oh, but I found a way.) As I raised my voice in contempt for him not making his own decisions, I recognized it was time for me to walk away. (Just so we’re clear – I do recognize that I was upset with him for the same reason I was upset with myself. And I assisted in creating the exact outcome I didn’t want to happen in the first place.) Love hindsight…ugh! I literally had to remove myself from the scenario – apologizing to my son. I was incapable of doing or saying anything helpful in that moment – despite that being exactly what I really wanted to do. Help. Why couldn’t I help? Judgment #3: We judge when our perception is that someone – usually somebody who we really care about – is not fulfilling their full potential or what we see as best for them. Even when we’re not upholding those standards ourselves. This too is rooted in fear. If you follow it closely enough, you will see that it always comes back to the person who is the source of the judgment. (That would be me in this case.) I projected my fear about dropping the ball or not being a good parent onto my son, made it about him not doing things “right.” Here’s the good news. Everything that happens is an opportunity for us to learn. A chance to choose again. To do better next time – which translates into feeling better. All it takes is a little willingness. AND it gave me the topic for my blog this week. The voices of fear and judgment were so intense, it dawned on me that I should write about exactly what I was experiencing. To which my ego replied, “Who are you to talk about fear and judgment when you’re so overwhelmed by fear and judgment?” Well, I was the exact person who should be talking about it because I was in the throes of it. Plus, I was aware of it. And I really wanted to feel and act differently. So in my usual “go toward the machine gun” style, I was willing to try and understand. To make some sense of it all. As Lewis Carrol wrote in Alice in Wonderland – “It would be nice if something made sense for a change.” To which I add – “Sometimes the only way to make any sense is to let go of what we think entirely.” It started with me. And could only end with me. Because I was already wrapped up in my own fears. I witnessed, took on and, ultimately, became frustrated with someone else’s fear. I then extended fear, judgment and criticism to my son. Which was actually fear, judgment and criticism about myself. Full Circle! Through the process of discovering my patterns of judgment in the phone call scenario, I was able to feel better, to eventually teach my son through example and to let go of judgment in other situations that same week, which resulted in: 1) Allowing myself to spend time with a person from a past relationship where hurt was involved. Enjoying, having fun and healing rather than stressing about what had been, what if and what now. 2) Avoiding participation in a “loving” family conversation about what was right/wrong for other family members…some present…some not. 3) Reacting to a conflicting situation reasonably and rationally that could have otherwise been fueled by fear and prejudice. Are you grappling with judgment getting in the way? Can you find Judgments 1 – 3 from above in your story? Do you have an example of letting go of judgment and how that altered an outcome? Share below. Don’t forget to take the TAL weekly challenge. It’s the way out of the rabbit hole.