What I judge in others is what I fear in myself and this points to where my work is.
It strikes me that some forms of thought bring suffering and some forms of thought bring peace.
- What makes these thought forms different?
- How can I characterise the difference?
- How can I increase my ability to choose between them?
What makes these thought forms different?
When I reflect on the difference I see that in suffering thoughts I am often running an enemy narrative – I believe something or someone has the power to take away my power. I’m holding on to a me versus them mindset and sitting in judgement of others. In peaceful thoughts there is a co-creation narrative – I see my part in the play. I see the part that I’m responsible for and I’m also able to hold my ground in the face of a challenge.
To the second question: How can I characterise the difference?
In suffering thoughts, there is much judgment, blame and accusation. In peaceful thoughts, there is empathy, curiosity and compassion, and I definitely notice judgment the relief that occurs as I ease into curiosity and empathy of others. A clear relief from the contraction of judgmental thoughts
To the third question: How can I increase my ability to choose between them?
This for me is the big question. You might say, where the rubber meets the road. With the above in mind, as I consider ways to increase my ability to go towards peaceful thoughts, practices like meditation, loving kindness and mindfulness come to mind.
In addition there’s a practice I’d like to share that’s been helping me take full ownership of my part in the play.
I find it helpful to work with the premise that Life is constantly co-creating itself. Life is co-creation and everything physical and non physical is connected and in relationship.
On this basis I ask: What if everything that causes me to perpetuate hurt and anguish is, at the deepest level of significance, an opportunity to see my part in the co-creation of the hurt and anguish itself? And further, What if everything I judge cause me to suffer?
What might this mean? Straight up it means I’ve got work to do.
Today my work is to catch in myself the voices of judgment and fear, the physical contractions, the mental narrowing on the problem, the ruminating, in fact anything that takes me down the rabbit hole of suffering thoughts.
The first part being to recognise this. To Catch the moment and hold it lightly.
The next step is the kicker and it’s where I turn the ‘what if’ questions into statements.
I do have a part in this. I am responsible for that part. I do have blind spots.
The moment I make these statements to myself I notice how Radical Ownership kicks in. With no where to hide and facing in, what follows the sting of full ownership is the optimism of what begins to grow within me. There’s a weird quiet joy that sits at the centre of this – I’m figuring its a nod from my soul that’s indicating I’m back on track.
And then in the spirit of adventure I’ve been taking it one step further.
Whatever I judge in another I reverse it. For those that know Byron Katie’s work, I’ve been inspired by what she calls ‘the turnaround’ – turning the judgement back on oneself.
What I’ve discovered is the neutralising effect this has on the ‘suffering thoughts’. The reversal also takes me directly to deeper ownership of my part in the interplay and illuminates a blind spot.
To give you a recent example. I judged a person close to me for their lack of grace and consideration of others. Happily I caught the judgment and then proceeded to explore when lacking grace and being inconsiderate of others was true for me. Taking full ownership I saw very clearly that there were times when this was true.
Talk about a way to extinguish self righteousness.
In continuing this practice I’ve never yet found a moment where what I’m judging in another is not also true for me and/or where I’m playing a part.
Of course when I’m hot with emotion and feeling wounded, this practice feels impossible. In waiting for the heat to cool I can usually get there in time.
It works for historic incidents as well. Many years back I felt betrayed by two work colleagues – and you could say there was good justification for this. However even years later without doing this work I’m still suffering. So I applied the reversal of judgment and saw that in their eyes I had betrayed my colleagues in terms of their expectations as we’d never had clear and constructive conversation about any of the undercurrents at play. Voila – peaceful thoughts of acceptance.
Another example – I recently judged a family member for ‘throwing me under the bus’. When I reversed the judgement, guess what – in their experience I’d done the same. Suffering gone. Blind spot lit.
Radical ownership plus blind spot illuminated = ego reduction. And therefor with ego-mind reduced an eco-mind is enhanced and from this comes more peaceful thoughts.
I’m excited about this practice because it allows me to really see what is being co-created when I show up with contracted – suffering thoughts.
I perpetuate the suffering by avoiding ownership and falling into the trap of the enemy narrative.
I’m coming to understand that this is tapping into a universal truth or natural law.
What I judge is what I fear and points me to where my work is.
With love – Martin.
Martin © 2022