I don’t know about you, but my mind rushes to judgment at the tiniest provocation.
My worst judgment erupts while I’m driving. It gets triggered by everyone who is jumping across lanes to get where they want, blocking me from changing lanes, driving too fast/too slow, or, most recently, when they try to cut in line to get out of a packed gas station parking lot.
I engage in a lot of muttering, name-calling and swearing when any of the above transpire while I’m driving. Of course, when I do similar things, what I do is justified and understandable.
I’m clearly not my best self while behind the wheel of a car.
Although my judgy behavior erupts most vociferously in the car, it is known to ignite at plenty of other times, too. Many of us are stressed and fearful in these incredibly chaotic times. When the world is upside like it is now, many of us will wildly grasp for whatever feels like it steadies us. Feeling right and justified can seem incredibly steadying in these times, even though the feeling is fleeting at best.
One practice that I’ve used to temper this hot-headed tendency is to ask questions. I get curious about the other person’s behavior and ask myself a question about why they are making their choices. The very act of pausing to form a question tends to open me up and calm me down.
Hearing the answer will very often cause me to have more empathy for the person I was previously judging. Hearing the answer doesn’t necessarily mean that I will agree with the person’s choices, but it will mean that I understand them a little bit better.
So I’m suggesting that when you feel judgment arise — either about another person or situation or yourself — pause and ask a question. Get curious about it and try to understand it better. You just might find yourself steadied by the curiosity rather than ignited by the judgment.
Feeling into the Chaos: I am excited to announce a new retreat designed to help you feel into your fear and uncertainty, tap into your curiosity and use creative and spiritual practices to help you inspire your next steps to bring about change in your life and community. Making Meaning in the Chaos, 1-4 PM EDT Oct. 2, will include large group online sessions with storytellers, artists and spiritual leaders that will prompt you into rich discussion and activity in small groups that can be held in person or online, depending on your comfort level. Take advantage of our early bird registration rate now!