Identifying patterns, making connections and observing beautiful synchronicities being a marked trait of the ever-widening consciousness, I’ve been noticing for some time that examples of particular life-themes seem to arise all at once as though by design. To me, this always suggests the playing-out of a life-lesson (actually, I prefer ‘reminder’) that I’ve laid down for myself at the soul level. One occurrence after another on a particular theme will crop up as though calling out for attention until, reaching a crescendo that cannot be ignored, examples of said theme will play themselves out on both the peripheral and main stages of life, often simultaneously. At such a point, it seems quite obvious that this is something that has bubbled up for attention, demanding to be processed or to have new light shone upon it.
In exactly the way I describe, the theme of ‘judgement’ seems to have been calling out to me, demanding to be scrutinised, this past couple of weeks; which tells me it must be time to tackle any judgemental tendencies that I still have – and I do. Without resorting to self-judgement, I think its fair to say I slip into judgement reasonably often – even as the self-recognition followed by the ‘guilty’ squirm factor have become ever more pronounced, nudging me towards the time (now) when I would look this one squarely in the eye.
So I find myself at a stage in the expansion process that crops up for just about everyone on a spiritual journey. The holy grail of achieving judgement-free living is, after all, a pretty hot topic on all the spiritual websites, with plenty of spiritual-types gripping tightly to the non-judgemental personas that they work so hard to project in these public spaces and yet, in ‘real life’ (as we all know) this is still the trait most likely to trip us up in our humanness in ways that we hardly see coming, so subtle and dressed-up is it in convoluted behaviour that disguises or, we like to think, excuses it. A classic example of this is the judgement of judgement itself habit; a veritable trip wire that catches out the many who are determined to label judgement as a ‘bad’ thing (which is simply more judgement…), publically frowning on those who practice its more overt permeations yet missing the point entirely that they are helping to keep the culture alive with their own subtle version of it. I have long felt as bewildered by the dichotomy of labelling judgement ‘wrong’ as I am about the vilification of ego (still more judgement); none of these things are our enemies, they are here for us to work with yet, when it comes to judgement, I could hardly see how this was serving us or why it was so difficult to put down until I started to observe how it plays out in my own life.
So, taking my own experience: I’ve come a very long way on my journey into conscious living and yet judgement has been like the pebble that refuses to settle to the bottom of the pool…it just keeps floating back up to the surface, dressed up as ‘harmlessly’ irreverent humour or excused as some sort of anchor to my soul lest I float away on a cloud of high-spirituality or loose all commonality and ability to relate to others (and thus all of my friends, business associates etc); there’s a great irony inherent in the way that we’ve learned to bond with our fellow beings by forming groups – polarities – that call judgement upon others and make comedy or sport out of the practice, even in the most jocular and passing of conversations. Yet, increasingly, it’s bothered me…why do I still hold judgement over others, find myself having strong opinions about the way they conduct their life or (yes, we all do it at some time or another) feel somehow superior to others, in ways so subtle that they barely trigger the alarm? We’ve no more quickly thought ‘why is that person eating a Big Mac?’ than we’ve passed judgement on their life-choices; its that easy! Judgement is like that rather unpleasant bin I knew I would have to empty eventually in order to feel the housework was done and so here it is, begging to be taken out.
I don’t know how or why the subject cropped up – repeatedly – over the course of my holiday travelling in France last month; perhaps because I have done so much people-watching on my travels by train, whilst staying in hotels, eating in restaurants and in all those other public spaces we encounter on holiday, which have added a new voyeuristic dimension to my world that is absent from my usual hermit-like existence. Suffice to say, questions such as ‘why am I drawing conclusions about that person based on ridiculous stereotypes, on what basis do we judge complete strangers in the street without knowing them, how come these people next to me reacted as they did to those other people?’ etc. were certainly at the forefront of my mind when, triggering a hoot of laughter, the word ‘judgement’ literally jumped out at me from amongst my emails as the special topic of a newsletter from one of my favourite mentors, Story Waters. This was a theme he had built on the back of his own reaction to the media outcry at the now infamous Miley Cyrus performance at the MTV music awards and, if you haven’t come across the wave of responses she received to that, I will leave you to explore the vast amount of coverage it has had on the internet because what really resonated with me in Story’s newsletter and, now, Judgement Masterclass video on this theme were the more universal observations he makes.
What Story flagged up for me, as I processed his words, is just how much we have built our culture – our entire media – upon the judgement of others; how judgement takes on a life-force of its own, often missing the point entirely of that which is being judged and distorting it utterly, encouraging a ‘normality’ where people routinely take sides about this issue or that without asking themselves why – and, indeed, people get a tangible thrill from that, there is energy to be experienced in propounding strong opinions, joining forces with others, getting worked up about these things; it gives us a rush, makes us feel vital to have these causes – even the most trivial – that we put our backs into. What we overlook is the impact upon those that are being judged, the real messages that are being distorted and overlooked, and the limiting effect that taking these stances has upon ourselves – we are the real losers – as we immerse ourselves in a judgement-culture that only ever delivers straight back to us even more of what we dole out. I recommend Story’s video in its entirety as he has a lot of great value to say on this subject, all of which resonated so completely with where I was at in making sense of it all. It drove home to me all the ways that we dress up, excuse and so allow these judgement reactions in our world which then go on to colour our lives in ways that often impact our experiences in ways that extend far beyond the original event.
My thoughts were already processing this when, in the way that buses always arrive in twos, my watching of the video yesterday was followed, this morning, by an event that triggered my own judgement-reaction in such a way that I was able to watch it happen, as a reflex, before my very eyes. With curiosity, I stepped back from myself and witnessed the way that judgement lies there semi-dormant until, suddenly, it unfolds under the slightest provocation; a learned reaction that distorts, exaggerates and quickly loses touch with all that is important. Here’s what happened:
There is a blog that I subscribe to written by Meg Worden and, I’ll be honest, I’d been on the verge of cancelling the subscription, for no specific reason except a supposed lack of time to read it…or so I told myself. In hindsight, I wonder if it was more the case that something about this woman smacked of being too irritatingly perfect: a website-glossy, picture-perfect, super-confident woman who writes about preparing all this amazingly wholesome, health-inducing food on the one hand while life-coaching all these people on the other.. and, worse, looking so damn great in an apron that would make me look like an extra from Downton Abbey. Yet something made me read her blog when it arrived this morning (ironically, I think it was the word ‘zen’ that caught my eye) and led me – at last, you might say, because its not something she seeks to conceal – to the shock-news that she spent two-years in jail for drug-dealing. As I read this, I felt myself prickle and recoil; a sort of ‘non-compute’ feeling followed by a judgement call gave way to a wave of curiosity (the kind that has people scouring magazines to read about celebrities with cellulite and failed relationships) and I found myself googling her to find out more. Turns out Meg not only writes openly about her challenging experience in jail as the mother, at the time, of a two year old child but has used the experience as her springboard into an abundant and inspirationally-conscious existence for herself and as a much respected life-coach for others. She has quite a writing talent too, not least when she shares her own experiences at the receiving end of the some of the more typical judgements made upon her by others. I found myself in awe of this woman and how she has turned her experience into something so supremely positive. Funniest thing was, at the level of knee-jerk reaction, I was on the verge of judging her for being, first, too perfect and then not perfect enough…whereas her reality incorporates (as it does for all of us – could we but see it) both of these polarities and all the territory in between. The close-call was that I so nearly missed out on all she has to offer because of these distorted reactions.
The thing is, we all make ‘mistakes’; no one really achieves the idealised life they take such pains to project to others or are ever-striving towards as the be-all and end-all of their life aspirations – such a life is an untenable myth and would be, quite frankly, boring. More important than that, I would say, is that none of these kinds of experiences are mistakes anyway…not when seen from the perspective of a higher-self that has an infinitely broader agenda. Take your own ‘worst experience’ and ask yourself, where would you be right now, who would you be, if that thing hadn’t happened? Do you really want to scrub it out of the fabric of your life, could you even do that, and still find yourself in possession of all the positives of experience and soul-growth that are yours in the here and now? This is the year in which I finally ‘get’ that nothing that ever happened to me was a mistake, even those experiences that used to make me squirm when I recalled them; there was gold to be found in each and every moment, in fact its been one of my biggest breakthroughs and greatest gifts of my life to finally grasp this (its also the core topic of my chapter in the forthcoming book ‘Soulful Relationships‘ due for release in November, for those who want to pre-order, wink wink).
So, being conscious enough (these days) to get all of that, to see that everything is – in its own way – perfect, where does this judgement of others and of self still come from in any of us, why is it still called for or in any way useful in life? I find myself cringe as words or thoughts of anything like judgement slip out and yet its like giving up smoking or chocolate biscuits; you’re always planning to give up after the next one…
The very fact of judgement implies that we feel we know enough about something to call ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ on it and yet I accept fully that I don’t have all the sides to any story, including my own. These days, more than ever, I grasp that there is a much bigger picture at play in which we are all gathering life-experiences across many lifetimes and to an infinitely larger purpose than we can see from within the minutiae of our physical lives. Without seeing this much bigger picture, for ourselves or for others, how on earth can we possibly judge? It comes right back to this other ‘key’ realisation that has been so fundamental to my journey – the one where I finally get (at more than just the intellectual level) – to quote the Moody Blues – ‘we are all One, we are all the same and life is just just a simple game’. If we are indeed all One (like computer game avatars, we come in with our memory of this scrambled as part of the very challenge of the game of life) then judgement – to go back to a point made by Story Waters – is just a form of self-abuse. In judging others, we are self-harming, plain and simple.
Tragically, this also prevents us from seeing the bigger picture as a result of missing so much that is wonderful, expansive, even directly helpful to us, and yet dismissed out of hand because it steps over some sort of line we have drawn between what is acceptable and what is not; so restricting our growth, hindering our very evolution as a soul. As with every single thing that ever keeps us from realising our own potential, judgement is quite simply another name for fear; its a way of keeping what we fear at arm’s length, pushing it away with an ‘oh no, I don’t want to have anything to do with that’.
So next time I feel a judgement call hovering at the brink of my thoughts, my intention is to ask myself ‘what is it that I fear here’ then see what I can do to shine consciousness on the real issue and so process that whilst feeling grateful for the opportunity that presented itself through the very reaction that was generated. By doing this, I avoid that ultimate pitfall of those who seek to eradicate their own judgemental tendencies, which is to dive straight into a state of self-judgement over this perceived ‘flaw’ in themselves (a secondary pitfall being to stand in judgement of others for being so judgemental…) which only perpetuates the cycle. Instead of ‘judging judgement’, the act of observing it without putting any further energy into it allows this very human trait to be up-cycled as a mechanism for flagging up residual fear so that a light can be shone on any old, obsolete fears that remain lurking, allowing them to dissipate. By doing this, I see the potential to break the cycle of judgement and spiral my way to something new; lifting the lid to allow even more scope for personal growth.
This concludes my non-judgemental musings on the subject of judgement. Its been a profound year in terms of processing my own ‘stuff’ and I see, now, where this topic slots into the road I am travelling – I’ve already made peace with my own story; its time to make peace with everyone else’s. In the very spirit of seeing (without judgement…) how everything has – quite perfectly – lead us all to exactly where we are right now, both in our own lives and collectively, and how judgement-reactions can be used as a device to expose fear, I suddenly grasp how the hyper-judgemental world we have created has provided the very means, the catalyst, by which we are now so well-placed to evolve out of judgement, out of fear and into something entirely new and original of our own creating. Bring it on!
Useful and interesting:
Story Waters: Limitlessness.com
That brilliant Miley Cyrus Judgement Masterclass on video again
Meg Worden: megworden.com
Meg Worden on the stigma of prison: Explaining Addiction to My Four Year Old
‘Beautiful Journey, Living with Soul’: an autobiographical story by Helen White (that’s me!) in the forthcoming book Soulful Relationships from the best-selling Adventures in Manifesting series.
Release date Nov 2013, just in time for Christmas – pre-orders being taken, hint hint 🙂