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?