I judge you.
I judge everyone.
Most of all… I judge myself.
Are you sitting there judging what I’m doing right now? What is going through your mind?
I’m judging me. Who do I think I am publishing this article on Medium? Why would ANYONE be interested in what I have to say? I am a terrible writer.
How are those thoughts helpful?
Coaching, self-care and increased self awareness has made me realise that this constant judgement makes me feel down. It prevents me from focusing on more positive solutions to problems. I get caught up in the negative emotions — blame, shame, fear — and it can stop me trying things and achieving what I am capable of.
Are negative emotions useful?
They’re negative so…surely not.
What if I change the question?
Is pain useful?
If you don’t realise that you have left the hob on and you put your hand on it, if you didn’t feel pain you would severely burn your hand and be in real trouble. Therefore pain is useful — very useful!
But… how long is pain useful for?
How long should you feel pain before you know you are in trouble?
A split second!! It should be an alert.
WARNING WARNING! STOP DOING THAT! DANGER DANGER!
Then you take action. The pain has fulfilled its purpose.
I argue that the same can be said for negative emotions.
Use sadness; use anger as alerts.
Warn yourself ‘I’M HAVING THIS EMOTION’. Then take action; shift quickly to a different mindset. You need to access the creative and resourceful part of your brain in order to deal with the situation. You can’t do that if you are stuck in negative emotions.
How much could you achieve through POSITIVE reinforcement PULLING YOU to make improvements? Imagine being
Imagine loving yourself and others.
Imagine being positive, happy, and supportive instead of stressed, playing the blame game and putting people down.
To stop feeling these negative emotions for long periods of time, and instead use them as an alert to make a change, you must stop the judgement.
Instead of judgement, use discernment.
There is subtle difference.
Discernment is non-judgemental. Discernment encourages you to make a change, to find a solution, and to make choices. Discernment has intentionality. It is the objective ability to notice differences without making inferences on something’s overall worthiness.
For example, you interview two candidates for a position on your team. One spoke clearly, confidently and answered the questions in full. The second candidate seemed nervous and was not able to answer the technical questions. Noticing the difference between two candidates is discernment. You are interviewing to employ someone who is skilled and able to fulfil a role. The interviews have helped you discern suitability- candidate one is more suited to the role. But if you infer that the second candidates is an inferior person because they didn’t answer interview questions fully — that is judgement. Not being the right candidate for the job doesn’t mean someone is inferior. Be discerning, not judgemental.
I have made a conscious effort to be less judgemental of others and situations by being more discerning — and it’s worked! It feels like a weight has been lifted of my shoulders. I don’t feel guilty. I feel more rational.
Being less judgemental of me however, has been much harder. It’s taken years of work to build up that destructive relationship!
I would like to share with you one method that I have been using to shift my mindset. I have this a photo of myself as a toddler.
If I recognise that I am being judgemental and speaking to myself in a negative way, I picture that cute little kid in the snow with her rosy red nose and tiny mittens. Would I judge her like that? Would I treat her the same way I treat me? No, of course not, I’m not a complete monster! But we’re the same person… deep down I’m still that little girl on her sled. If she doesn’t deserve to be spoken to like that, neither do I! And suddenly it becomes much easier to be discerning. To be rational. To be kind.
Judgement fuels our negative emotions. Even though negative emotions are useful as an alert, much like pain, if we allow them to continue for long stretches, we make our lives difficult, unhappy and stressful. Instead use discernment in place of judgement. Notice differences, notice room for improvement, but use positive reinforcement to pull you towards success or to give others constructive and positive feedback. Think about the inner child. Be easier on yourself and others. You’re in a relationship with yourself for a long time!
Post first published on Medium on Monday 15th February 2021.