Judgment (Not) Day

May 2nd, 2016 by Kelly Kienzle

Kelly and her friends

How much negative chatter do you hear over the course of a day? How often does your ego pipe up (in that silent but deadly way she has) and point out your weaknesses, missed opportunities and persistent mistakes?

If she’s like mine, she can clock overtime pretty quickly, especially when I am stressed and burdened and awake at 4am.

But what if you gave her the day off for one day? What if you put that voice on mute and went for a day without judgment?

I got to experience something like that last week when I was at a retreat. In a small group of highly accepting, yet mostly complete strangers, I did not experience a single moment of judging myself in a negative way. (That’s us in the picture above… I’m the one in the gray.)

Why was this? What was different? Certainly, all of the essential elements – – the oxygen, food and water there – – were basically the same as any other day in my life.  (Well, except maybe these chocolate chip cookies with little bits of pumpkin in them… but that’s another beautiful mystery for another day.)

Maybe in fact, what was different was that there was no judgment emanating from any of the dozen people present.

Coming off of that “judgment vacation”, I wondered how I/we could bring that into our regular lives, without having to trot off to some adorable B&B in the countryside each time. I then realized that, like a tortoise who carries his home, we carry this protective and comforting capability with us always. We just sometimes forget to use it.  We simply need to be mindful of this mental habit and then, mindfully, use it.

So, can we commit to spending 24 hours being acutely aware of foregoing self-judgment? Can we pay attention to when we start to judge whether we should have done something better, faster, slower or with less saturated fat? (Helloooo, guilt-free handful of those amazing cookies.)

Can we give ourselves some of that compassion that we so desperately seek from others, often in vain? Wouldn’t it be more efficient and reliable to self-generate our own compassion? Perhaps this is part of what Emerson meant when he wrote about self-reliance.

We do not need to wait until we are in the right setting, doing something easy, or hanging out with incredibly non-judgmental folks. We can simply begin at any time. Why not now? When can you commit to observing Judgment (Not) Day?

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