Dropping Judgement, Accepting Consequences

Dropping Judgement, Accepting Consequences requires a certain maturity, and willingness to stop automatic behaviours through mindful attention.


Dropping Judgement, Accepting Consequences

Albert Einstein once said,
“Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”

Oh boy, do we ever want there to be rights and wrongs.

The vast majority of interpersonal communication that doesn’t work is actually a battle to be proven right. And it’s really a monologue, as any form of emotion connected with the communication results in tunnel vision.

Emotions create a mental vacuum that actually sucks your brains out. The tendency is to hunker down, get loud, and to defend what you believe is so. Brain researchers have discovered that, in the midst of emotion, all you see is your point of view. Tunnel vision.

As Zen people, we believe that this is so.

However, we also believe that attentiveness to the process that you engage in when winding yourself up can result in stepping back from the brink of “all-knowing-ness,” to the safe harbour of dialogue.

Even though your emotions are running hot, what you believe to be so will never, ever be anything other than (simply) your opinion. In the midst of your self-created drama, it may appear that all the evidence points to your belief — indeed, that the world itself seems to revolve around your understandings, but in the end, they are just that — your understandings.

The way out is to remember that every act on your part has consequences.

It’s true — every thought and every action has a consequence. We get that one when something “good” happens – we are reluctant to accept responsibility when something “not so good” happens.

Amazing, isn’t it, how when things go right, you’re responsible, and when things go off the rails, you find the perpetrator “out there, somewhere?”


I once worked with a client who was very much into New Age thinking – something that causes me to pull out my hair. She came in because her life was a mess and she was depressed, and… wanted me to teach her to have more positive affirmations in her life.

As I don’t think a new affirmation is worth much more than an old one, we agreed to disagree.

Then, she declared that she would come in for Bodywork. I have a pile of stories I could use here, about what happened next, but here’s just one for now.

She was new to Bodywork. She had read my brochure on it, and we had a discussion on what to expect. Her lack of experience did not, for a moment, change her judgement that she knew all about it —likely even more than I knew.

Because of her mind set, her judgments, she repeatedly told me that she was a “very advanced being” and that she would experince in one session what others might take three or four sessions to get to.

My subjective judgment was that she just laid there, up in her head, communing with the fairies, or whatever, and that she really accomplished nothing.

We finished what turned out to be our last session, and she said,

When I started today, I figured I’d need 10 — 15 more sessions. Half way through, I was told (this would be God, I suspect, whispering in her ear – God, having nothing better to do … ) I would only need 7 — 8 more sessions. Now that we’re done, I’m aware that I’ll only need 3 — 4 more sessions.”

Now, I amused myself with this. I’ve been working on me and my stuff and doing Bodywork for four decades now, and sense I’m scratching the surface of some great depth. I’m in awe of people like my client, who can figure everything out, for all time, in three sessions or so.

That was sarcasm, by the way.

Imagine my surprise the next day, when I got a message from her (God was apparently too busy to deliver it for her) –

I’m standing here in my living room, still totally depressed. I don’t like my house, my marriage, my kids, my career. Surely you can change what you are doing, so I don’t have to feel this way. We need to do things differently so I’m fine after the next session.”

And the day after that, she terminated therapy, stating,

You simply don’t have the tools to work with advanced beings. Clearly, if you knew what you are doing, everything in my life would be perfect, and this is all because you wouldn’t fix my affirmations.”

This little soul did not understand that her life is the consequence of her choices.

What she saw all around her and in her, which she depressed herself over, was totally and only the result of her thoughts and behaviours. The only solution to her dilemma was to rethink her beliefs, and choose different behaviours. Period.

Her judgment, and the judgment of many, is that problems are externally caused. Life then becomes a monumental struggle to get the rest of the world to change.

Another judgment is, “I am defective in some way.” There’s an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness that connects with this idea. And if I assume I’m defective in some way, (which is the same thing as blaming others, only you simply change targets and blame yourself) I’ll prove it to myself, and quite easily.

I simply ignore all evidence to the contrary.

A subset of this is our judgment about feelings. One of the interesting things about Bodywork is that emotions and feelings become more immediate as the body armour begins to melt. Stuff comes up.

Now, most of us have a list of “good” feelings – joy, happiness, ecstasy, passion, love, bliss, contentment – all of which are actually descriptions of a feeling that is “warm and fuzzy.” (All that changes is the degree.)

And then there’s the “bad” list – anger, sadness, despair, grief, angst, fear, loneliness – all of which are actually descriptions of a feeling that is “cold and prickly” (again, a matter of degree.)

We want more of the former, none of the latter. Except it doesn’t work that way.

For example, I may be working with someone on a Bodywork chest release. What will come up is grief. Heartbreak. If the person breathes into it, doesn’t judge it, they will grieve, and the grief will pass. Often what will then emerge is joy. One flowing into the other.

If there is the sense that the “bad” feeling should be (there’s the judgment) repressed, the joy will never be fully experienced.

So, I encourage people to simply feel their feelings. As you feel and then go into your head, evaluating the feeling, the goal is to give your little head a pat, and return to the feeling. Otherwise, the consequence, in this case, for all of us, goes like this:

If you judge your feelings, you will stop your feelings. All of them.

This holds for all judgments. As soon as you go to a place where you assign a fixed judgment on anything or anyone, there you sit.

Now, we all judge. The way past it is to admit it.

When I go into judgment, I say, “So, my judgment here is that …” As soon as I acknowledge the judgment, I give myself permission to let go of it.

I may have used this example before, but bear with me. I was working with a client and suggested to him that he needed to let go and experiment with new behaviours. He replied that he needed more control. I said, “Let go.” He replied, “More control.” I started to annoy myself, and my judgment was that he wasn’t listening. So, I said to him, “I’m aware that I’m annoying myself over here, over your use of the word control. I have a judgment that control isn’t helpful. What do you mean by ‘control’?”

He said, “I need to control myself from using what doesn’t work, so I can try something new.”

Oops. I could have created distance through my judgment. As it turned out, we were saying approximately the same thing, using different words. He picked a word I set myself off over. If I hadn’t admitted what I was doing, I can’t see how this would have resolved itself.

Listen to yourself. Give yourself permission to note your judgments, your “good and bad” list. Let go of the need to think you need such a list. Remember that your life is a consequence of your choices, thoughts and actions.

It’s your show. How do you like it so far?

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

9 thoughts on “Dropping Judgement, Accepting Consequences”

  1. The more I read of your blogs the more I realize that I am only just finally becoming an adult at 51…and an embryonic adult at that. Thanks, Wayne, for reminding me to pay attention every week in your blogs. Even when I think I am on the right track I catch myself all the time. Wish I could get my ex husband to read this both by way of teaching and apology…we were both always so damn right we barely took a breath! What a relief to be free to be wrong all the time and learn from it every day.

    LOVE that fairy godmother picture! I should hang it in my office to warn me against the magical thinking.
    Cheers, Karen

  2. I like different flavours of icecream … and damn Wayne … if I would have known it was all your fault, I would be so much happier by now! tee hee … smiln’ with joy thanks to me choosing to notice … and choosing to experience your wisdom … and choosing to notice once again. hugs

  3. She has such a strong belief that Auston’s behavior has nothing to do with him being without a Mother for 7 years in a group home that it is soley based on him just wanting to disrespect her and make her angry because he didn’t grow up completely without a Mother like we did, he has his Mother and a home unlike her so he has no excuse or right to act the way he does. I believe that does have issues with his past and still and will for some time have anger and hurt issues because of it, perhaps I am wrong in as I have tried to just make her put herself in his shoes or in her own for that matter and how does or did she feel so instead of taking it personal she can see that his actions are that of a boy was left by his Mother and his feelings are yet to be resolved. I believe that if she had more compassion for him she wouldn’t be so angry with him since she herself as unresolved issues but unfortunately that didn’t fly, just her mouth did, lol. I love her and it was/is my intentions to try and provide some relief so she can free herself of this but all she did was say, well yell, “I’m not a bad Mother, you keep saying I am a bad Mother” which I never said or implied but she won’t see it any other way. Perhaps I am seeing his behavior incorrectly and do you have a perspective on it?

  4. Hi there,
    I suspect all you can do in this situation is demonstrate elegant and clear communication and affection with Auston, and continue to encourage your sister to get some counselling / and note with her that no matter how angry she is, the only person whose “mouth” she can control, is hers.
    She clearly needs someone to blame, and a teenage boy is convenient.
    Let him know he can talk with you, be a role model, and recognize that many of us don’t figure things out until later in life — it’s sort of the job of parents to mess us up, so we have something to do as adults…

  5. Great article, so profound. On that note I have recently moved in with my sister and I have been practicing Zen Buddhism in my life for a couple years now and it has helped me tremenously however I have a ways to go as I suspect I will always continue to learn and seek guidance for situations that require guidance from a much wiser person such as yourself ;o) It’s a touchy subject and it’s best to leave it in the hands of a professional and save myself a black eye, lol.

    Ok here it is and this is her speaking as she is standing next to me. “I am constantly arguing with my 16yr old son and telling him to clean his room, chores etc and he knows how I want it done and yet he is purposely doing things wrong to piss me off which causes me to yell and curse at him and then I tell him that he is forcing me to hit him by acting like a smart ass and glaring at me. He is constantly testing me and doing things knowing that it makes me angry to the point of smacking him the face, which he has forced me to do on several occassions, I don’t get it, why does like to piss me off so much, I’m just sick of how he smurks at me when I tell him what to do and then proceed to act damn and say, “wait, what did you want me to do?.” “he knows damn well what I want him to do but he is just playing stupid.”

    Also as a side note, when she tells him to do something its in a very condesending tone and constant belittling of him as a person however she talks like that to me and her husband as well but I have learned and still learning not to let it affect me and am able to stay more balanced in the midst of her knowing everyone’s intentions, feelings etc. But in any case Auston has said on several occasions that he hates the way his Mother talks to him and when she does it makes him very angry and thats why he does what he does. When she first got him back, the first 6 months were great, they had a great relationship, there was mutual respect and love for one another and you can even see it in their pictures. Whereas now you can noticeably see the changes in their smiles, facial expressions etc when you look at recent photos of their family.

    I have noticed that she doesn’t spend a lot of time with him at all and pretty much the only interaction with him is to inspect his room and chores to make sure they were done exactly as she instructed and every time they are not, which is pretty much every time according to her standards the yelling begins. He never yells back he is very soft spoken. She doesn’t show him any affection because she said he just pulls away or shows no interest so she stopped. I tried to tell her that he is still affected by his childhood and that even though he pulls away he is actually still wanting her to keep hugging him to show she loves him and that being that he didn’t really have that as a child and it’s probably foreign to him and so he doesn’t know how to respond but she immediately goes into defense mode and says that he should just know I love him, and that she shouldn’t have to hug him for him to know she loves him because her cooking and doing his laundry for him is showing that she loves him and that he shouldn’t still be affected by those 7 yrs because at one point they had a loving relationship for 6 months (woooofuc&^ghoo, sorry, it just triggered an emotion from our own Mother’s lack of love and affection and responsibility on her part, lol) and so his behavior has no merit to it except to” fu*& with her” so there is no excusing it or need to see his side.

    I’ve tried to give some insight by asking her to reflect how it felt when you thought your Mother didn’t love you and that even at age 35yrs old that she is still dealing with hurt feelings but she insist that she isn’t.

    In any case she has stopped hitting him but continues to spew very hateful words. And just as an fyi, she voluntarily asked for help from social services to help her with her anger as she does want a loving relationship with her son.

    We were taken away from our Mother when she was 7 yrs old, there were 4 of us. We were all split up and Sally is the youngest, was bounced from foster home to foster home, then group home and she ended up in a mental institute for suicide attempts which resulted from our Mother’s repeated promises to visit her only to not show up. In any case she had 2 kids by age 20, boy and girl, and when Auston was 1 yrs old they were both taken away and unfortunately she ended up on crack living on skid for 7 yrs and for those 7 yrs Auston has lived in a group home. Miraculously she ended up quitting cold turkey, got married, bought a house and got Auston back from Social Services. Hopefully this will give some insight into how to guide them both into a more peaceful resolution to their constant anger towards one another even they do really love each other.

    Thanks for your infinite wisdom that has helped my in quest for peace from within.


  6. Seriously? The client actually wrote that stuff to you? I think affirmations are only as good as the work we put into them to make them “true” or “real” or “applicable”. To me, saying an affirmation a thousand times doesn’t do anything…maybe it makes me feel better better but I’m not convinced that it makes me “do” better.

    • Yeah, almost word for word. Given that her main “failed affirmation” was “My husband will completely accept my lover as my sexual soul mate,” the whole thing was one bubble past weird.
      Me, I’m simple. You want something, do it!
      Hugs, W


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