We Seek Connection…Yet We Fear Connection

I’m still confused. It’s been almost a week since the mass shooting in Orlando. 49 people were gunned down and many others were severely wounded and are still hospitalized. I know there is a lot of anger and you might be experiencing that emotion yourself.

Everyone in that nightclub will be dealing with his or her own version of emotional or physical trauma…every family member has his or her own grief to process…and the rest of us has our own process to try and make some sense of something that is “sense”-less. Writing is one of the ways that I traverse that road of finding answers…of finding peace…and, most importantly, of finding compassion and love.

I can recall certain times in my life where I have taken “attacks” personally (I would guess you have your own version of times like this). One was when I was on active duty in the Navy and the USS Cole was attacked, killing 17 Sailors and wounding 39 others. I personally knew none of the injured or killed, but they were my family. I took it personally…I felt connected to them. The next was on September 11th, 2001.

You probably have your own version of what that day meant to you.

For me, it was on my home soil and approximately 3,000 people were gone from my family within minutes. That day changed everything…that day still impacts everything…it still impacts my military family…that day was horrible…I took it personally. Finally, the attack in the gay nightclub last week…another attack on my family…I still can’t find the right words to express it…I’m confused and sad…I take it personally. The reason that I take these events personally is that I feel a connection to them and the people who died…they were my Navy family, my American family, my LGBTQ+ family, my Human family.

There is a lot of talk about gun control, mental illness, religion, terrorism, and hate crimes.

All of these are worthy discussions, yet they don’t solve what I believe is the underlying problem and the reason that people feel the need to “kill.”

Here is my radical belief:

One of the worst and most chronic diseases we have as humans is the fear of connection with someone we don’t want to connect to… it’s the addiction to being different, special, unique, better, more enlightened, more religious, etc…it’s the need for connection and the fear of connecting with the person we loathe. This disease, in my opinion, kills more humans than most diseases; just ask any gang member who has his or her “turf” threatened. This disease…the fear of connecting to the pieces and parts of me that I “despise” in others…contributes to humans taking their own lives on a daily basis.

Let me explain…What I see in you, I have to see in me (it’s projection)…even if what I see in you is something that I “hate.” It’s not about being gay, having a different religion, political belief, ethnicity, sports team…it’s about fear…it’s about being threatened. “Hate” is the fear of connection…of seeing the same parts of me that I fear (hate) in you.

For example, “What I hate (fear) is the parts of me that I see in you…and those are parts that I can’t stand seeing. If I kill you, I kill and don’t have to see those parts in me.”

That’s an illusion…those parts in me are there regardless of what I do to hurt or kill you.

In my confusion, I am searching for answers and here’s what I have in the moment. The only remedy to combat this disease is connection and compassion, toward myself and toward the person holding up the mirror to my challenges.

When I love and respect me, I project that out as love and respect toward you. Differences are necessary…good…beautiful…wonderful. If everyone walked like you, talked like you, had your same interests and beliefs, you wouldn’t be human…you’d be a robot, which would be a horribly boring existence (at least that’s what my robot friends tell me).

Lastly friend, in my state of less confusion (not much, but any is welcome), I’ll attempt my signature cheerleading sendoff. Seek connection with others, as you will connect to parts of yourself by doing so. If you find a difference that irritates you or that you don’t understand, look inward to find that area within yourself that you are confused about or struggle with.

That person that gave you that “trigger” or exposed that discomfort in you is a gift…he or she is helping you uncover an area for you to work on and gain compassion, for self and for that person. On the other hand, if you find something you love or respect about another, place awareness and gratitude on that wonderful quality that you love and respect about yourself. If you find yourself judging another, find the area within you that you are projecting onto that person.

I might not live my life exactly like you do, I might not have the same skin color, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or sexual orientation, and still, you are a part of my human family. I am immensely grateful for that.

Image retrieved from focuspocusnow.com

Wherever You Are, Be There

Today I find myself in my Arizona hometown to provide some care for my 84-year-old father. It was an unplanned trip and started with a phone call that he was hospitalized at the VA. The decision was obvious…I canceled some work, packed up a few things and hopped in my car to drive the 400 miles it takes to get here. I’m glad I did.

If I had stayed in California, my thoughts would have been here in Arizona. I would have been worried about my dad, what kind of care he was getting, if he was around strangers all day long, if he was confused (he has Alzheimer’s Disease), or if he wanted someone from the family to be with him. I would have been here (in Arizona) mentally, which would serve no one.

I came here for him and I came here for me.

This “being present” thing takes effort; at least it does for me, and I can be really good at mentally “escaping.” I truly believe that we are all doing the best we can. Sometimes life can be awesome and it feels like nothing can bring you down. And sometimes life can be really challenging and it takes everything you have just to get you to show up and move forward.

If you find yourself in the first category, feel it, love it, be present with it, and absolutely enjoy it, and know that “this too shall pass.” If you find yourself in the second category, feel it, embrace it, be present with it, and know that “this too shall pass.”

Everything “passes” in life…

Every moment, every embrace, every challenge, and quickly I might add. For some reason, that has always given me hope when I’m in the shadows of my darkest moments, the moments where I have learned my greatest lessons, and the moments that I wish would move a lot quicker than they do.

These moments (I’m guessing you know exactly what I’m talking about) have taught me just how resilient the human spirit is, but absolutely not until I’ve walked through the dark tunnel to find the light. Finding that light, the one that is always there, brings a sense of peace, of freedom, and of a greater knowledge of the blessings that this life brings.

So, I sit here in the dining room of my parent’s home, watching a bird jump through every one of my mom’s plants on her deck. It’s quiet and peaceful. I’m grateful to be noticing that I’m noticing, which is one of my tools for being present. I’m thankful that my dad is doing better and I know that there are powers beyond his (and my) control that enable him to “be here.” I’m not sure where he goes off to, mentally, but I hope it’s a place that provides him happiness and peace.

Lastly friend, I’ll do my best at providing a little cheerleading.

If you find yourself in bliss, everything is rocking, and you just can’t seem to take a wrong step, let it soak in to every fiber of your body and be as absolutely present as you can be. You deserve all of the happiness and joy that your life is intended to have…every single inch of it.

And…if you find yourself in that dark place, hang on and know that you are resilient beyond your wildest imagination. Someone once told me, “If you’re walking through hell…keep walking.”

It will get better, it will pass, and you will find parts of yourself that you never knew existed. Be present and honor whatever feelings you might be experiencing. My dad agrees.

p.s. Shout-out to the Prescott VA, an amazing and dedicated team of superstars!

The Suffocating Effects of Perfectionism.

Since the first two syllables in the word perfectionism are “perfect,” that must mean that perfectionism is a good or even a great thing…something that we should all be striving for…right? Uhhh, unfortunately, that is wrong. Perfectionism is a very unhealthy “ism” that takes us away from enjoying each moment because we are hyper-vigilant in avoiding perceived failure or appearing imperfect.

In breaking apart the word, perfectionism, this happened:

* Perfect. A dictionary search online stated, Perfect is “having all the required or desirable elements, qualities, or characteristics; as good as it is possible to be.” (Hell yeah, right?)

* Next up…perfection, is “the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.” (Awesome…no defects!)

* Finally…perfectionism, where “life is an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. It’s a fast track to unhappiness, and perfectionism is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders…What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure” (Psychology Today). (Oh yay…an endless toxic report card…)

In my blog about expectations, I discussed my drive to get all A’s in my Bachelors and Masters Programs, and how much of this was in an effort to avoid my perception of “failing.” This was unhealthy perfectionism…not getting the A’s but the reason why I had to get them. When I look in the mirror and focus on what is “wrong” over what is healthy and beautiful, this is perfectionism. When I write a blog and second, third, or fourth question it, this is perfectionism. It’s an attempt to escape judgment, criticism, shame or blame (Brene’ Brown)…many times from self. It’s about the fear of not being good enough.

What then, is the remedy for the ‘ism’ of trying to achieve a self-imposed perfect?

Personally, I believe it’s all about self-compassion and authenticity. It’s about unraveling the messages that swirl inside your head and finding some underlying absolute truth to what makes you the unique and amazing person you are. It’s about understanding the reasons that you overachieve or run from perceived flaws or supposed failure. And…many times…it’s one step or issue at a time.

Have I ever said that this being human thing can be challenging?

I think I have. One of the things that I hope to keep repeating (because it will truly change your life) is that it’s not about the situation, the body part, the report card, or the criticism from others that we struggle with…it’s what it means to us. Find your story under the one you tell yourself. Search for the reasons that you avoid judgment (see my blog on judgment) and notice that most of the judgment is self-imposed.

Perfection-ism is a powerfully damaging ‘ism.’

It will rob you of showing up, of happiness, of authentic connection, of living in the moment, and of giving others and yourself your best gift…authentic YOU. If perfectionism is something that has you in its grips, start with self-compassion and in the knowing that perfect is already who you are.

Talk to someone…a spouse, significant other, friend, or coach.

Lastly, in my opinion, it’s all already perfect and perfection, even and especially the challenges. As Pitbull would say, “Every day above ground is a great day.” 🙂 The older I get, the absolute more I know that to be true.

Brene’ Brown. 20090. perfectionism and claiming shame. http://brenebrown.com/2009/03/18/2009318perfectionism-and-claiming-shame-html/

Psychology Today. 1991-2016. Perfectionism. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/perfectionism

5 Things that Will Keep you from Pursuing your Passion.

What gets in the way of pursuing our passion? How do we even know what our passion or dream is?

I remember as a little girl I said that I wanted to be a counselor for abused children. How did I even think that as a child? Was that intuition that I didn’t question or was it just some fluke that came out of nowhere? Looking back now, I believe I had some feeling about my life’s future purpose of inner healing…a knowing intuitive compass. I took a number (a zillion) of detours, absolutely necessary life experiences, and eventually ended up back in line with that compass needle.

In doing this work, I find many who claim to be discontent, unhappy, and watching life speed up and slip by. We talk about the things that are getting in the way of being content. Some of these might be necessary to have a roof over their heads and food on the table. Yet there are other emotional barriers, five of which (my top five) I will touch on that I believe keeps people from growing and stepping out their comfort zone.

1. Fear of Change.

The human Ego craves control and predictability and struggles with change and unpredictability. Although a necessary part of being human, the Ego does whatever it can to keep you grounded and in familiar territory, even if that territory creates discomfort.

Your spirit and your soul, on the other hand, want you to fly and to challenge yourself, and this takes courage away from the familiar and predictable life your Ego has spent many years controlling.

2. Relationship Disruption.

To pursue your passion probably will require support and sacrifice from loved ones. If you are a people pleaser or a caretaker (over-giver), it will appear that you are being selfish by taking ownership of and going toward your passion. You might feel resentment and anger from those who want you to stay in their comfort zone and it could feel like you are being disloyal by choosing you.

This is challenging and many will sabotage their dreams and revert back to that discomfort zone. My advice? Talk to your loved ones about the importance of your vision and what it means to you. If they truly love and accept that this is important for you, they will understand and will also see that it’s important for them to keep working through their own challenges about your changes.

3. Fear of Failure/Rejection.

I believe many of us have a little voice inside of us that tells us we won’t succeed and, if we don’t try we give that voice validation. I’ve heard time and again how truly successful people failed over and over. If something is really important and feels purposeful, then I believe we owe it to ourselves to keep trying.

This will require vulnerability to step out of that comfort zone and take some chances. It might mean three steps forward, two steps back or even six steps back. It will take courage and the possibility of rejection. My thoughts are that going for our dreams can never be failure but stumbling can sure feel like it.

4. Fear of Success.

Why would anyone be afraid of success? One of the problems with defining success is that it is unique to each of us. Even though we have the goal of breaking out of our comfort zone, it really is very predictable and extremely comfortable.

Again, becoming successful at something new means a change in other aspects of our lives, not necessarily a negative change, but definitely a change and something that we can’t control. One other aspect of fearing success is getting there and discovering that it didn’t fix everything. New areas of discomfort might emerge, which is okay and necessary, but this fact can keep many stuck and not attempting that something new (“at least I know what I have if I stay where I’m at”).

5. Fear of Being Creatively Vulnerable.

In my previous blogs, I have discussed creativity wounding, a topic that I was first introduced to by Brene’ Brown. What I have personally learned is that exposing my creativity to the world has taken a lot of personal courage and, at times has been scary.

The creative part of us is our art, it comes from a part of our brain that is not logical, and it is uniquely personal. It takes courage to allow that part of us to flow and, as far as I know, is the only way to allow ourselves to flow into the uncharted territory of finding our passion.

Ask yourself, “What would my future self want me to do about getting out of my comfort zone?”

My guess is that, if you can look 10, 20, or 40 years down the road, your future self will be very grateful that you walked through the challenges it took to expand your vision. You don’t have to change everything in your life all at once, just take a step toward your passion.

Maybe start with a conversation with your spouse, partner, or a close friend or even start to journal about it. You might do what I did and get on the road and then see where it takes you. I promise it won’t be boring and I also promise you will learn more about the miracles of you that still remain hidden. My hope is that you find one area to break out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself.

The Challenge of Giving Yourself a Break.

Do you ever hear people say, “Lighten up…don’t take yourself so seriously…”? When I hear people say these things to me I think two things:

First I think (react with), “What the hell are you talking about? I am the most lightened up person I know! I love to joke, play, and chill!”

The second thing I think (respond with) is, “Damn…you’re right. How come I have such a hard time giving myself a break? Is it my military background? Perfectionism issues? Being female? Fear of being caught off guard? I certainly want to lighten up but how the hell do I do that?”

What are the messages we hear when we relax?

When we take a vacation, play, or (whisper voice here) call in sick to take a “mental health day” (shhhhh)? Is there a part of us that judges ourselves for being less that 100% committed to the work ethic that we use to approve of or prove ourselves? Does having fun or relaxing signal not being productive, signal being immature, or signal not meeting our or others expectations?

What if having fun or relaxing or not taking ourselves so seriously signaled living and enjoying life? What if we could re-record those tapes that run between our ears that tell us we have to be perfectionists, be productive, and meet all of those obligations?

So how do we lighten up?

How do we learn to play and relax and not beat ourselves up for what is essentially called….(drumroll)….living. Ughhhhh… A suggestion would be to first find some self-compassion. Then search for the areas in your life that ignite your playful spirit or help you relax and nurture those areas as much as possible.

Some of the things that I do are to go somewhere new, hangout with people who I love and feel good with, play and be with my dog, write and tap into my creative side, listen and sing (not well…i.e. horribly) to music, take a nap, and laugh as much as possible. Probably most importantly is to notice when I’m being hard on myself and what my critical voice is representing…what am I either in fear about or ashamed about being judged or seen?

At the end of the day it really is about living and enjoying this beautiful gift called life.

Do I have to make money to pay my bills and do the things I want to do in life? Absolutely…after all, it’s a part of doing this human thing. AND…do I want to find some balance so that my entire focus isn’t about my life supporting my business but instead can be about my business supporting my chosen life? I would say an emphatic yes to that question. I certainly hope I can remember that and keep giving myself a break. I also wish that same lighten-up and give yourself a break for all of you.

Expectations — the Subtle Setup

I’ll let you in on a little secret:

If I have resentment toward someone or I am feeling depressed about some past thing or event, I have an unmet expectation. The subtle setup of an expectation can hit me like a left jab before I even knew it was there.

What is an expectation anyway?

For me, an expectation places an attachment to an outcome about a situation, person, society, etc. A confession: There is a part of me that has an expectation that this blog will be received well by readers and another part that is afraid that it won’t.

Are expectations a bad thing?

Great question! I would guess that’s in the eye of the beholder…an expectation “expects” something to either go it’s way or not go it’s way. Expectations push a person away from curiosity and acceptance and take that person from living in the moment to looking toward the future for something great or something terrible to happen.

If someone has “let me down” in the past, many times I will expect him or her to do so again, which creates a negative situation before it’s even happened. I can also generate this same scenario for myself…if I’m a bad test-taker, I expect to always struggle during testing, which creates horrible anxiety for days and hours before the test (that I usually do well on).

Where expectations can really be challenging is when others or, even worse, I don’t meet them. They are a fantasy; a look into the future that has a version of how something should go or someone should act. In my opinion, this is how they are a subtle setup.

If something or someone “exceeds” my expectations, I will be pleased, yet I will probably won’t even notice (as it won’t create resentment) and increase my expectations in the next similar situation. Where I can get really challenged is when I place the expectations that I have for myself and project them onto others (friends, family, co-workers, society, etc.). I am notorious for this…expecting that others will read my mind and do something a certain way because that is how I would have done it. It’s a little ridiculous but I constantly get caught in this trap.

Let’s talk about a few scenarios where I believe most of us can relate:

* In relationships (personal or business), an expectation might be interpreted as an obligation, which could create either compliance or defiance from the person the expectation is placed on. I expect something to happen…and many times I don’t even communicate that expectation…I simply expect it because that is what I would have done or would do.

If that person meets my expectation, I internalize it as validation that this person values and respects me. Where this gets really tricky is, if that person does not meet my expectation, then that person must not value and respect me.

If I believe compliance is value and respect, then I have to believe defiance is insignificance and disrespect. I will carry resentment that that person disrespected my values and me and determine that there must be something wrong with him or her (lazy, rude, disrespectful, not motivated, etc.). (Refer to my previous blog about judgment).

* Another expectation is special occasions…I mean who doesn’t “expect” a great birthday, holiday season, vacation, or wedding? There is a lot of buildup to these events and many times they totally meet our expectations and occasionally they don’t, which can lead to resentment and sometimes depression.

An expectation creates some form of anxiety as it is fantasizing toward the future.

An unmet expectation then creates some form of depression, looking toward the past with regret. Notice how you feel after a big event…and see if you can be grateful for how it occurred or if you notice resentment and depression because it wasn’t what you expected.

* Lastly, let’s discuss self-expectations. I believe creating expectations for how I live my life and how I treat others and myself is necessary (these are in line with my values). I believe that the way I treat myself is projected outward and is a great indication of how I probably treat others. I set some pretty high expectations on myself, which is not necessarily a bad thing.

Where the challenge comes in is where I will create a lot of anxiety in meeting my own expectations, in an attempt to not disappoint myself. An example is when I was in my Bachelors and Masters programs and I was driven to excel and receive A’s for all of my classes (I did so with the exception of one math class, which was gratifying to the rebel in me).

Why did I “need” to excel? Subconsciously, I believe I can be very critical of myself when I don’t meet that expectation I set. So I achieve…sometimes for gratification and sometimes to escape my own self-criticism about my perception of “failing.”

Sometimes things don’t go the way we intended.

How we parent ourselves in those situations is key toward self-compassion and inner health. When I can begin to be compassionate with myself for the things I expected to go better, I will project that same empathy and compassion onto others who are struggling to meet either my expectations or, even worse, their own.

How do we go from expectations (attachment) toward anticipation (non-attachment)?

First, become curious. Notice that an expectation is an attempt to control, which keeps life feeling predictable, yet can really get in the way of allowing life to flow. When you notice that you have an attachment about an outcome or resentment over something that did or didn’t happen the way that you wanted, search for your unconscious expectation.

The more awareness that you can place on the expectations you created, the less you might do it (and try not to judge yourself for doing something that comes pretty naturally). One of my mentors, John McMullin from Journeys of Wisdom, teaches me to say, “Surprise me, God.” Personally, I really like this because it gets me out of my own way and opens me up to a higher power that has a much better handle on my life than I do.

In wrapping this up, my expectation is that something within this blog will make sense and will help create an opening for some self-reflection, self-compassion, and some dialogue between you and those you care about. I would invite all of you (and me) to stay curious and lighten up…as I’ve stated in my other blogs, this being human thing can be pretty challenging.

If you find yourself in a place of darkness and confusion, reach out to family, friends or a coach. Sometimes we just can’t see what we just can’t see and others have an insight or reflection that will help. At least that’s my expectation when I reach out.

Acceptance is Crucial for True Forgiveness.

Last week, I published my first blog about “Judgment” and opened the door for future topic suggestions. Of the different ideas that I received back, “forgiveness” came up.

This is an excellent topic, as I believe the benefits of finding a place of true forgiveness is a place of peace and freedom. As always, these are my thoughts and are based on my experience so you’ll have to forgive me if the information is different from your belief system.

That being said, let’s dive in…

This “being human” thing is tough sometimes and we can be so hard on ourselves (I might place this sentence in every blog that I do). Nobody gets a free ride and we all go through highs and lows. We do things that result in positive feelings of pride or happiness, which we rarely think twice about or we minimize in an attempt to not be seen.

On the other hand, we sometimes do things that create negative feelings such as shame, sadness, remorse, regret, or guilt (need I go on?), which we will carry for days, months or many years. When I fail to meet my own or what I consider to be other people’s expectations (“I let them down”), I can be very critical and non-forgiving of myself.

Moving toward forgiveness is a choice…

It is something that the person who feels wronged must undertake in order to experience non-attachment and acceptance. Although forgiveness (acceptance) might help mend relationships, it’s not for the other person…it’s entirely a process to help release the negative burden of personal imprisonment.

Things happen in life that we cannot control.

This is good news as it helps give us the liberty of “letting go.” Some pains are unimaginable and I will not pretend to understand the loss of a loved one to murder, brutal attacks on humans or animals, or intentional harm to self or to another.

We each have our own unique way of healing from these types of losses and “forgiving” another person for something that creates so much pain and devastation is an individual journey which might never occur. We don’t ever have to approve or disapprove another person’s choice or behavior, although acceptance of the situation and the inability that I had to stop it is one way to start forgiveness of myself.

I personally don’t believe that someone can betray me.

What that person can betray is my values, such as trust, honesty, commitment, etc. This in turn certainly feels like they betrayed me and I, more times than not, will be human and absolutely take it personal.

How could I not?

I feel deceived, lied to, cheated on, etc., and it hurts (many times expressed as self-righteous anger). I had an expectation that I wouldn’t get hurt and I did…which then creates painful resentment. We all have our own version of this story. As long as this person fell in line (met my expectations) with what I wanted him or her to be, then I remained in “approval” of him or her. As soon as “that thing” happened that I didn’t like, I was confused, felt betrayed, and then “disapproved” of that person.

So, where do I start with this forgiveness thing when I’m feeling like this?

If someone did something where I feel betrayed, I first experience what I consider to be necessary reactive behavior (fight, flight, freeze, or façade). When I get my breath back and some space from the situation and person, I start looking at what it was that I wanted that person to represent to me.

I have to (and yes, this is what I do) look at where I betrayed a part of myself first and believed this person would be someone who would never let me down (again…everyone is human).

If I gave that person the power to “make me” feel good then I also gave that person the equivalent possible power to “make me” feel bad. It is how I experienced that person and that positive or negative situation that is giving me the good or bad feelings.

Transitioning from approval or disapproval to acceptance is essential to journey toward healing and true forgiveness.

If I stay attached to the idea that I couldn’t control someone else into meeting my expectations and I place my own judgment on whether or not that person’s behavior was good or bad, it is hard for me to find a place of acceptance. When I can start to accept people for who they are, the perceived good and/or bad, then I begin to let go of the attachment that others will not “let me down.” I can also let go of the attachment that others are better or not-so-much-better than me.

When I make others responsible for how I feel, I betray myself.

This is where the true forgiveness comes into play…I forgive myself for placing conditions on other people where I approve or disapprove of their behavior (setting them up to never make mistakes).

Even more importantly is forgiving myself for the self-imposed expectations that I will never do something that I regret or feel bad about.

The great news is that we all have to go through icky times to recognize when we are experiencing harmony (non-icky times). Everyone who was ever placed in your life was here to teach you something.

Sometimes the really challenging, hard and painful experiences and relationships are the ones that will teach us what we will accept and not accept (in other words, to set better boundaries). We have these emotions and feelings that can be very painful sometimes, yet they are very necessary to guide us toward making choices that better serve our lives.

Start to accept people for who they are and are not to you (what you project onto them). Try to forgive yourself for the judgment (good and bad) that you place on others. And most importantly, try to forgive yourself for the judgment you place on yourself. Life is amazing, we are all human, and are all doing our best (even when others judge it differently). Lastly, forgive me for my long-winded post about this important topic and I will try to do the same.

p.s. Check out my blog on Expectations, the Subtle Setup

The Good and Not so Good of “Judgment”

Who am I to Judge? What gives me the “right” to judge others? Do I judge others more harshly than I judge myself? I would guess that the more harshly I judge others is a great indication of how harshly I judge myself.

When I looked up the word “judgment” in dictionary.com, it was nice surprise to read, “the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion.” Where is the negativity in that definition? I certainly don’t see any.

Which leads me to the following:

It is absolutely necessary to judge…good judgment can lead you away from circumstances and people that could be negative or even dangerous to your life.

So then, why do we (yes, me included) get so spun up when others appear to be judging us? Could it be that we feel they are saying that they are better than us? Could it be that we think of those in spiritual (God, Higher Power, Universe, etc.) or positional power (parents, police officers, judges, etc.) as the only ones that have the “right” to judge us? For me, the answer used to be yes. Don’t get me wrong…I can still struggle with being judged…AND I have learned some helpful insights when I perceive I am being judged.

Judgment is an act of projection.

When I am being judged positively, understand that person sees something in me that he or she likes about him/herself. When that person sees something negative about me, he or she carries and does not like that same trait.

Judgment onto another person is not truth.

The only thing true about judgment onto another is that the person who judges believes it, which only makes it his or her truth.

People judge out of their egos attachment to past experiences.

If a person had a horrible relationship with someone who had blond hair, a white dog, and wore flip flops, he or she would probably not judge me too positively. They would (again) project that bad relationship onto me. Remembering that not everything is about me can be a great step toward liberating myself from the perceived judgment of others.

How to quit judging myself when I judge? Now this is tricky, primarily because I can be pretty hard on myself at times (not always). When I notice that I am comparing myself (judging) to others (good or bad), it is a good time for me to do the following:

Acknowledge that judgment is a natural part of life and create an opening for some self-compassion.

This can be a great indicator of something within me that I either feel really good or really bad about, which can shine a light on something that might have been unconsciously hidden.

Understand that sometimes I might be judging someone to be doing better than me in an attempt to feel small or to shrink.

Or, on the other hand, I might be thinking that they are not as (successful, happy, healthy, etc.) to “feel better” about myself. Either way is a great indication of me looking outward at someone else instead of turning the spotlight on myself, which could be really scary. I believe some of our biggest fears are those that we run from by comparing ourselves to others.

So, judge away, my friends!

Give yourself the liberty to see the things you like in others, which will help you see things about yourself that you also like. And, just as importantly, notice the things you judge in others to be negative and then ask yourself, “What is it about me that I see in him/her that I don’t like?” If you dig deep enough, you will find it.

And…give yourself the liberty to not break out the shovel and start digging until you are ready. I would judge each of us to have a similar AND very unique journey, which must be individually honored.

References: Dictionary.com. (2016). Judgment. Retrieved from http://www.dictionary.com/browse/judgment