Every time we judge someone, we see our own faults reflected back to us. At first, it may seem that our irritation and anger are totally legitimate. However, when you look at the reason of you not approving someone else´s behavior, you´ll find out that you´ve been probably offended because this conduct is more than familiar to you. In fact, it´s usually something you´ve been consciously but often times unconsciously struggling with, as well. Undoubtedly, it´s easier to see these “faults” in others and by pointing at them feeling superior and showing ourselves that there is someone even worse than we are. These people who we are judging are according to our stories cause of all our suffering and without them the world would be a happier and brighter place.
With people we “know” our judgments at least may seem justified. Nevertheless, we don´t stop there, because usually we tend to judge even people, who we don´t know. I suppose you are familiar with the thoughts of the type – He´s too tall…, She´s too fat…, They´re too loud… Many times we judge ourselves – I´m stupid…, I´m ugly…, I´m not adventurous enough… No matter what our judgment story is or who we are judging the result is always the same. After a few moments of satisfying self-righteousness we start feeling depleted, sad, fearful, angry or anxious. Our judgmental stories don´t stop with judging people, our minds can come up with judgments about virtually anything – situations, places, our life and lives of others and the list can go on and on. Because of our anxious thinking we are not often able to cope with our surroundings and we need to distract ourselves with stuff like food, shopping, TV or alcohol. I know what I´m talking about, I´ve been there and I´ve done that and it´s always hurt. The hardest part of it is that sometimes you can´t put finger on the thoughts that are hurting you. Let´s have a look at the process, which will help you to get your power back and to release the stressful patterns of thinking.
Week 1: Noticing
From my own experience, I can assure you that ten times out of ten; the things hurting me were my own judgmental thoughts. I decided to take responsibility for my own life (read my own thoughts) and instead of going on a healthy food diet I went on a judgment cleanse. For twenty-one days I made it a part of my morning routine to write down an intention about releasing judgments. What it did for me was that I was more aware of my unkind thoughts throughout the day and I was able to identify them more easily. It´s the same as with anything else, when you start noticing something, gradually, the momentum enables you to find more of the same thing. When you have a problem identifying your judgmental thoughts, just start noticing the way you feel. Every time you are not at ease and peace, there is a stressful/judgmental thought that is robbing you of your sanity and creative energy. During the first week it is going to be your mission to stop every time you feel nervous, anxious, sad or if you are consciously aware of thinking judgmental thought about a person/situation or yourself. Write the thoughts you are thinking in the moment down on a piece of paper or in a journal. Keep doing this for a seven consecutive days. Don´t worry if the thoughts start repeating, which they probably will. After a week of becoming aware of the thoughts which are making you feel uncomfortable, have a look at your list and underline the thoughts that repeat themselves the most.
Week 2: What you are creating vs. what you want to create
Once you´ve identified the thoughts that you no longer want to entertain in your mind, write each of them on the top of a separate blank sheet of paper and divide this paper in two halves. Firstly, ask yourself a question: “Who am I and how am I reacting/feeling when I think this thought?” Write the answers on the left side of your paper. For instance, let´s image I will choose a thought – He is annoying me all the time. Then I will write down how I feel when I think the thought: I am angry…, I am nervous…, I don´t want to see him…, My body is contracting and my chest is tight…, I am avoiding him… . When you are finished with the left side of your list and you should take as much time as you need (there is no right or wrong way of doing this exercise, basically, write down all of the feelings and reactions that come to your mind) then you can move to the other side. For the right side, we are going to ask the question: “Who would I be without this thought? How would I react without thinking this thought?” Close your eyes and try to imagine what your life would be like, if you weren´t able to think the thought you are working on. How would I react if he wasn´t annoying me all the time?… I would be calmer when he comes and says something…, Every time I meet him, I would be able to see him as completely new person without projecting the past situations on him…, I would be maybe for a first time in a while interested in what he has to say…, I would notice that he is not annoying me intentionally and others are probably not annoyed at all in his presence,… . This side of your journal should feel really good. It´s during this exercise that you can feel how your body is relaxing and your mind will literally expand into a new reality. You´re going to feel relief because finally after a long time of causing you stress, you are going to put the thought aside and try how your life would feel without it. Use this process on every thought from the first week. Start with those, which you thought more often and depending on how much time you are willing to put aside for this exercise during the second week, continue until you question all of your stressful thoughts. The result will be nothing less than your own freedom.
Week 3: Embracing the new way of being
The last week of releasing judgmental thoughts will consist of leaning towards your true self. The right side of the paper, the way you feel without the stressful thoughts, that´s who you really are. You are not your judgmental, anxious thoughts. You are the kind, loving and compassionate person who you are without thinking those thoughts. So this week every time you are not feeling at peace, bring your attention to the thought that is causing you stress and mindfully choose its kinder and truer alternative. Every time you do that, feel your body relaxing into a feeling of ease and peace. The thing is, even if the judgmental thoughts still come to your mind, now you have a choice to entertain them or not. This practice is powerful and it is able to change your life in very radical ways. You´ll feel peaceful, joyful and more in control of your life. People and the world will no longer be your enemies and without wasting your energy on finding faults in you and others you´ll have plenty of mental power to create from a place of kindness and love. Naturally, you´ll have more physical energy, which is the result of releasing mental resistance to people and situation in your life.
This is going to be a process. That means, that some days you´ll be better at it and some days you´ll have to try hard not to judge the way you are judging everything in your life. But trust me, it will eventually get easier and you´ll feel better. 21 days is what´s enough to create a habit of monitoring your thoughts and replacing the hurtful ones with good feeling and kinder thoughts.
If you´ve just decided to give it a try and do a 21-day judgment cleanse with me, please, leave a comment and share your experience with us. In case, you need any specific advice or have a personal question, you can contact me via email in the CONTACT section.
Have a wonderful time discovering your kinder and happier self,