Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

Where I do some of  my best thinking - the drive home from therapy
After writing Reconnecting with Community two weeks ago, I prepared to post it to the blog. The cursor hovered over the “publish” button and I hesitated. The post was very personal. It could make some people in my community feel uncomfortable. I read it over again to be sure that I wrote authentically—without an agenda, without trying to control an outcome.

Yes, it reflected who I am and what I value. I hit “publish.”

Encouraging comments began to appear on Facebook and on the blog. The post had value to others. But, as the week went on, I began to feel uncertain about it. What do other people in my community think of me? What are they saying? “Did you read Gayle’s blog? Why would she write that? Why is she dragging up things in the past?” Or, “She sure is good at playing the victim.”

I recognized the feeling of uncertainty as vulnerability (thanks to Brené Brown’s books). I am learning that when I feel vulnerable, shame rushes in to fill the void.

When I saw my therapist last week, we spent time talking about my feelings and my vulnerability. Dr. Anna reminded me (as she often does) that other people’s thoughts and actions are beyond my control. She asked, “How do you know what they are thinking? Does it matter what they are saying? Does it change who you are?”

It was a really good session and made me think. But the Big Realization hit me on the drive home: What I think others are thinking and saying is what I would be thinking or saying if I was in their place.

Those are the things I think about others when I am feeling defensive and hurt. I would play the blame and shame game in my head or even say it to my friends and family. I would think they are playing the victim and it would make me feel angry.

Whoa! The “good girl” inside of me doesn’t want to think I can be mean, insensitive or flat-out judgmental. And, yet, I recognized my thoughts. My thoughts, not what other people are saying. My thoughts.

Then I realized it isn’t necessarily what other people have thought or said that makes me feel shame; it is what I think and say to myself that opens the trapdoor into the sea of shame.

In other words, I judge myself in the same manner as I judge other people.

In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

I always took this to mean when Judgement Day comes, I’ll be judged in the manner I’ve judged others. But, it is mind-blowing to realize I judge myself with the same measure I judge others. And I can never measure up. How can I expect it of others?

It’s the same as “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). If I don’t love myself and treat myself with respect, lovingkindness and compassion, how can I love others?

I went back and read Chapter 6 in Rising Strong again. No surprise there. Brené Brown wrote that the people who didn’t think others were doing the best they could “judged their efforts in the same exacting manner that they judged the efforts of others.” She noticed these were the same group of people who struggled with perfectionism.

Today I showed Dr. Anna what I had written in this post to this point. I hadn’t finished it. I had a week full of revelations that I shared with her, which I’ll be sharing with you in the future.

Once again, my mind opened up more on the drive home and I had these thoughts:
  • It is easier to judge and avoid connection than to connect and work through conflict.   
  • Avoiding Connection = Avoiding Conflict
  •  The opposite of judgement is acceptance.

I’ve got more wrestling or “rumbling” (Brené Brown’s word) to do…

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