Episode 29: Breaking Away From Judgement

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I’m LDS Life Coach Hannah Coles and you are listening to The Confidence Catalyst Podcast Episode 29: Breaking Away From Judgement

For most of us judging ourselves and others seems to be what we default to. We judge constantly and we don’t realize we’re doing it because it just sounds like a comment, or like you’re stating a fact. Judging is a limiting practice and it’s keeping you stuck. In this episode I teach you why judging is harming you and what you can do to help you live a richer, more fulfilling life. 

This month in the CATALYST membership we’ve been talking a lot about body image and how to love the way we look. I have a challenge going on right now to help us learn and practice learning to love our bodies. It’s so fun and I just love the people participating. 

Are you judging yourself?

We tend to spend a lot to time judging ourselves in many areas but especially in how we look. All throughout the day when you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror or a reflection you have thoughts about yourself. Think about where your eyes go.  And more importantly think about where your thoughts go. What are you thinking about when you see yourself, when you see a picture of yourself, when you see an image of you on someone else social media feed, right?

We start judging. For a lot of us judging has become our default. It’s our way of relating to the world. Which is why it doesn’t always sound judgey. Sometimes it just sounds like you’re stating facts, like that’s really how it is or maybe it’s a belief that you’ve had for a while like one of my clients mentioned that they have an “ugly smile”. They said so easily like they were just telling me the weather. It wasn’t loud but it was matter of factly. In their mind, compared to other smiles, she judged herself by labeling it as an ugly smile.

Judging, stating truth, and opinions

Most of the time we just feel like we’re stating truth. We take our opinions and make judgments and then we believe them as if they were the truth but the problem with this is we simply don’t have enough information to accurately judge the circumstance. Even when it comes to our appearance, we make judgements about ourselves in comparison to others and we state it like it’s fact but it’s still just an opinion. It’s still just a thought. We can’t prove that we have an ugly smile. We can’t prove that our fat is disgusting. We can’t prove that we’re not good enough.

Skinny Mirrors?

Judging is limiting. It’s not serving you and it closes you off to possibility. 

I recently watched a news segment about a company that makes “skinny mirrors”. They said it’s designed to take off 5-10 lbs off your appearance. This attracted quite a stir people thinking they’re being deceived and others liking it. But here’s the thing. What you see is not the same as what I see. You see an image of yourself and you have thoughts and judgments about yourself. Whereas if I saw you in that same image I’d most likely have different thoughts about you. 

In our old house we had two master bedrooms. One was upstairs which we converted into our school room because I homeschool my kids and the downstairs was our room. In the master bathroom the mirrors were completely different. The school room mirror was like a skinny mirror. I could look in that mirror and think, “not bad!” But if I went to the downstairs one that wasn’t as flattering, I’d usually think, “Eh”. It was so fascinating because I’d be in the same outfit, same time of day and just look at the contrast between these two mirrors and I’d have completely different thoughts about what I saw.

What is the truth?

I got to a point where I had to ask myself which was true. For many years I chose the unflattering one as truth and when I did, I felt negatively towards my appearance. But then one day I was curious and thought, “what if this is fat mirror and the one upstairs is truth?” Why did I want to go straight to judgment about myself and my appearance for so long?

Here’s the thing you guys, you get to believe anything you want to believe about yourself. There’s no rule that says you have to believe specific things. It’s truly the ultimate freedom. No one can tell you what you have to believe or what you’re allowed to believe. 

Judgments are just opinions

Judgements are just opinions stated as facts but they’re still just thoughts and when we believe these judgments and operate from them we close ourselves off from what thoughts will propel you forward and create the life you really want to live.

Think about that, guys, when we judge, we limit ourselves to what we experience. We close off the option of learning and understanding more about ourselves, others, or the circumstance. Here’s an example, my clients like to say, “I don’t know” often. I used to for a long time too. It seemed factual. It seemed like it was the truth. But when we say I don’t know, we pass a judgment. We think or say a statement and opinion stated as factual and here’s the most dangerous thing that happens when we do this, we close the door to further understanding and learning. 

You gave your brain a directive (without even realizing it). You told your brain, “well, we don’t know so we can’t stop working on it”. And your brain, wanting to be efficient and solve tasks but when you place judgment it’s going to go to work to prove that new thought, statement true.

Closing the door

You close that door and then our brain goes to work to prove that true. You don’t know. But by allowing even just a shred of curiosity we allow the door to stay open even if it’s just a crack. Your brain will still go to work looking for alternatives, further understanding.

My husband and I watched a movie the other night. It was one we hadn’t heard of before but the synopsis sounded intriguing so we watched it. I don’t recommend it. It was vastly different than what we both thought it would be and I was disappointed in the direction it took. But I noticed something really interesting. I thought about it and questioned why the producer, writer would go in that direction, why the main character chose to do certain things, and I questioned in my mind how I would have liked it to end?

So the next day as my husband and I were talking I start sharing my insights and thoughts about it and he said, “you’re still thinking about that movie?! I thought it was lame and haven’t thought about it since.” 

Now I’m not saying that one way is better than the other in this circumstance. It was just interesting to see how this works. How our brain works. I gave it several questions. I sat in curiosity and stayed there and as a result I experienced a deeper understanding and learning. Where as he made a judgement about it and closed the door. His brain was no longer thinking about it and moved on to other things.

Judging isn’t “bad” it’s a choice you want to be deliberate with

There are times when you’re going to want to make judgments. There are times that I want to close the door on certain thoughts or circumstances and you will too but I also think that more often than not you’ll want to make your default curiosity instead of judgment. 

Another problem with defaulting to judgement is that we practice and solidify certain patterns of thought and beliefs. We become stuck repeating the same thoughts again and again because of the judgements we think about ourselves and others and when we do this we aren’t able to consider that there are other options or possibilities.

Not enoughness

I coach a lot of women on the belief that they’re not enough. They lack confidence in themselves because they’re believing this story about themselves. They put a huge blanket judgement on themselves that they’re just not enough and it starts showing up everywhere. It limits what they’re able to do and create in the world because they’re stuck in this cycle of thinking these thoughts, I’m not enough, I’ll never be enough, I’ve never been good enough and then they compare and despair and when they’re feeling inadequate, insecure the last thing they want to do is go and do, go and create, put themselves out there. No, they want to stay in, stay small, stay unseen because inside they’re still operating from the belief that they’re not enough.

This judgement isn’t serving. It’s limiting. It closes the door to be able to be open to any other option or possibility. 

Try on curiosity

So I invite them and I invite you to try on Curiosity. Instead of judging and making that statement, I’m not enough try on curiosity. Is it possible that I’m enough in some areas? Then just stay there for a bit. The longer you allow yourself to stay present with that question, the more insight, additional understanding, and growth that you allow yourself to experience.

I say allow yourself because that’s really what we do. We either allow ourselves to be open to growth and new insight or we close the door by making that judgment and then operating through that filter.

Another thing judgment does is it closest us off not only from further insight but it closes us off from other relationships. This is true even if that relationship is with ourselves or with other people. We label, we judge, and as such we take action accordingly and we may push others away by not being able to be open to understanding them. 

Judging ourselves closes the door to understanding

Last week I talked all about anti-self bullying and really that’s believing judgments we make about ourselves. We don’t allow for insight. We miss understanding why our brain offered us that thought in the first place. 

Your brain might say, don’t share that, people will think that’s dumb. So we don’t share that part of ourselves. We don’t allow ourselves to be seen, we don’t show up authentically and we feel bad because we think dumb things. We are dumb. But if you can question that, wait, why would they think that’s dumb? Is it dumb?

And just that little bit of curiosity allows for insight. Your brain just offered that to you because it’s supposed to be on the lookout for danger, for potential danger but curiosity allows for discussion. It allows for you to decide if danger is really present at all. Maybe it’s not dumb. Maybe they won’t reject you. Maybe they’ll agree and you can grow closer and bond through that similarity. But you can’t get to this point without allowing yourself to be curious. 

It feels easy but it’s limiting

Judging comes so easily to us. Your brain doesn’t want to be curious and think new things. It wants efficiency. It loves routine. It loves what’s known. But all this isn’t helping you to grow or become. All this is just keeping you alive, not thriving, just alive.

Curiosity allows you to grow. It creates an open space for creativity, possibility, and innovation. 

When we allow ourselves to be curious we are open to the belief that we don’t know all the answers yet. Something is missing and it goes to work figuring that out. That missing something could be missing details about another person and what they’re thinking, feeling, or going through. 

An opportunity for growth, connection, and love

A good friend of mine recently shared that her pre-teen was a bit cranky. She said she wanted to write it off as pre-teen crankiness but then she was curious that something wasn’t quite right. She didn’t have all the information yet. So she held the space for her daughter to just feel whatever she needed to feel and experience. 

Her daughter complained and told her, “you’re always busy” and instead of getting defensive she noticed that she had been working more frequently lately and again, before going to judgment and thinking something needed to change she just allowed her daughter to experience whatever she was going through and then in this space she opened up and shared how things weren’t going well at school, not academically but with her friends. She felt sad and heartbroken because her friends weren’t playing with her anymore and she was alone at recess and lunch break.

Curiosity allowed them to share this intimate moment. To take their relationship to a deeper level and for her to understand her daughter even more. Curiosity is such a beautifully kind space.

Curiosity is challenging

I will warn you, as you might already know that curiosity is also a challenge space to be in because it means that you don’t know all the answers yet. It takes work and expends energy. It takes more work for us to asks questions instead of just passing off a quick judgment.  It requires that we explore the unknown.

It also helps us to develop and cultivate humility. When we embrace curiosity we also embrace the possibility that we could be wrong. Instead of pride stepping in and showing up defensively, we welcome questions, feedback, and observations. We might have been operating from unconscious beliefs for years and not realizing that maybe those beliefs aren’t accurate or going to be the most productive or serving to you and others.

What are the fruits of curiosity?

Curiosity is at the root of humility, of creativity, of compassion, and most of all love. While creating and cultivating more curiosity in our lives might be more challenging it for sure has it’s major perks. It releases us and others from having to be perfect or showing up a certain way. It takes the weight and pressure off of us from having to know.

It’s such a kind feeling and space to live from. It’s ever growing, expanding, and refining.

Walt Whitman once said, “Be curious, not judgmental”

Ask questions. Be open to possibilities.

We need to branch away from judging, from the categorizing and labeling. 

Curiosity doesn’t have an opinion

Curiosity doesn’t have an opinion. I know this is hard for most of us because we think we need to have an opinion about everything. Do I like that? Do I not like that? I would never have said that, worn that, tried that – no matter what it is we have thoughts about it. 

Marcus Aurelius once said, “You always own the option of having no opinion. There is never any need to get worked up or to trouble your soul about things you can’t control. These things are not asking to be judged by you. Leave them alone.”

This isn’t to say that you can’t have an opinion it just means that you’re open to possibilities. Curiosity pays attention. When you’re curious you not judging or evaluating the circumstances you’re paying attention to them, you’re interested in them. You’re listening, actively listening to them because you’re humble enough to know that your way isn’t necessarily the “right” way. It might be right for you but you’re open to believing that your way might not be the right way for them. 

Defining yourself

Wayne Dyer once said, “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”

It’s even okay to notice this about yourself. To observe when you’re judging and instead of judging yourself for judging others you start by inviting in curiosity. Asking questions, why do I think that? Is it true? It’s this thought helping me to be in alignment with who I want to be and who I’m trying to be? Judgment ends where curiosity begins.

A lot of us judge ourselves because of our judgements. It might look like this, “ugh, I really don’t want to go to that service project tonight. It’s going to be boring and not fun.” First judgment, then you think, “uh, I’m a terrible person, I should be grateful. I should want to go.” So then we’re judging ourselves for judging in the first place. Instead a better and more productive approach is getting to curiosity. 

Curiosity is a peacemaker

Curiosity is a peacemaker. It holds no opinion and harbors no judgments. You want curiosity on your side.  Instead of going straight to judgment when you see yourself in the mirror, you could go straight to curiosity. I wonder why my brain offered that thought? Why do I think that? Is it true? Is there a blood test for it? Would everyone agree? 

When you can get to curiosity instead of judgment you’re no longer making that original thought mean something about your character or your worth. It’s just a thought and curiosity doesn’t assume to know the answers. It’s open to understanding and it invites you to stay in the present moment. 

Stay present

Geneen Roth once said, “Staying requires being curious about who you actually are when you don’t take yourself to be a collection of memories. When you don’t infer your existence from replaying what happened to you, when you don’t take yourself to be the girl your mother/father/brother/teacher/lover didn’t see or adore. When you sense yourself directly, immediately, right now, without preconception, who are you?”

These questions are gifts that curiosity brings to the table. It’s an opportunity to put past memories, thoughts, beliefs behind that are no longer serving you. From thinking thoughts that clearly are creating pain for you and keeping you stuck and limited.

Embrace curiosity

Embrace curiosity. Allow yourself room to grow. Ask questions. Then let your amazing brain go to work helping you discover new truths and understanding. You life will never be the same when you can adopt this practice into your daily life. Accept the challenge, accept the extra thought work. It’s worth it. 

Okay all, that’s what I’ve got for you this week! 

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