One of my greatest faults? I’m quick to judge.
I definitely judge a book by its cover as my ‘default’ and I am working every day on being more compassionate, more understanding and on making less automatic, knee-jerk reactions during encounters with new people or strangers. In short, I’m working on keeping my own personal gavel aloft for a little bit longer.
Recently I have observed something interesting about myself – when I meet a new or established client and I’m in ‘health coach mode’ I am immediately able to leave the judgement at the door, to be understanding and to accept them for who they are, no matter what. So why do I find it more challenging in the everyday, mundane aspects of my personal life? Why do I judge people on the street, the woman who barges past me on the path and nearly knocks me over, the taxi driver who cuts me up on the highway, the mother who just exploded, shouting at her apparently spoiled child who was clearly throwing a tantrum because he couldn’t get what he wanted?
In truth I have been all of those people. I am certain that on occasion I have been stressed, rushed and distracted and knocked into someone in the street, then been so irritated and overheated that I didn’t apologise as I would have on an ‘ordinary’ day. And, whilst I pride myself on ‘giving way’ on the roads, I know there are occasions when I’ve been in a rush and cut someone else up, pulled out in front of someone or not indicated when I should have done. And I shouted at Bea yesterday, loudly, in public. Granted she had just run into my ankle with her child-sized but no less robust metal shopping trolley in IKEA, it had been the umpteenth time she’d done it in half an hour and this time she took a chunk of skin out of my ankle. She didn’t mean it of course, but it really hurt and I was shocked and surprised and angry and frustrated all at once and I shouted, right there at the checkout of IKEA. I’m sure most mums have stood in the defendant’s shoes, while the eyes of the jury around them burn with contempt or judgement or both. I apologised to Bea, she apologised to me, but the jury didn’t know why I’d shouted. I was probably just ‘another mother with another spoiled expat child demanding something new in IKEA’.
So I have certainly been the perpetrator and haven’t we all at sometime or another? And for me, it’s a particularly ‘enlightened’ and balanced day that I’m able to approach being the recipient, the ‘hard done to’ or the audience in any of these scenarios without judgement, although I am working on it daily, through yoga and through meditation.
But I have a further confession to make; I was those people and much more while I worked in finance in Hong Kong. Without the balance and perspective that yoga provides to me, without the inner calm that our daughter gifted to us when she arrived and without my husband (who was in Korea) and his calming influence, I was a whirlwind of eternal judgement. I acted in a manner that attracted judgement and I cast it at others with the drop of a hat. I was trapped inside my own self-destructive samskara.
Where was the love? It’s a cliché I know, but I feel now that that was what was sorely lacking. My family were far away in the UK, my husband was a 3 hour flight away, our daughter but a twinkle in his eye, my yoga still a muted flame inside me yet to be awakened, my influences often unsavoury, my decisions often less than sweet. Love was buried, compassion was overlooked, and passion was turned towards money and success.
Now I am living a life of abundance in love of every kind, for my daughter, my incredible husband, my inspirational clients, my humble yet esteemed teachers, and my ever-forgiving family & childhood friends whom I am still too far away from. And most importantly love for myself, a concept that our Western minds struggles with.
So those people who we judge on the street, are they like me now, like me then, like you, are we all alike? Are they not feeling particularly loved today and are therefore stunted in their ability to show love to others?
(Aside: Another children’s movie has inspired me. I have a 3 year old and we love Disney movies, although as you know we’re not feeling so much love for Disney food!)
On Friday we watched Disney’s recent movie ‘Maleficent’? It’s a perspective flip on the original ‘Sleeping Beauty’ story that makes you return to the original story with a renewed idea of who is the hero and who is the villain. I watched it with Bea this week and we both loved it although perhaps for differing reasons.
For me, it resonated with my thoughts of late. Is any one of us truly good or bad?
Is there an ‘evil fairy’ who plagues your life? Could you flip your perspective and consider their viewpoint on life, on you, or even on how they came to be where they are now, if they are blessed with love, and if they have always, now or ever been so blessed? And could you approach them with more compassion and love next time you encounter them?
Conversely, do you have a fairy godmother and is that person absolutely, faultlessly good? Or, for the sake or argument, are there people whom almost knock you sugar-sick with their sweetness, the like of which is so apparently perfect that you could never even aspire to such heady heights of ‘fairy godmotherdom’? And is that person always faultlessly good, or does everyone have a shadow of ‘bad’? Have we all knocked into someone on the street and not apologised, at least once in our lives? Do you think Mother Theresa ever did?
We may argue that there are extremes of bad and good, extremes that are arguably beyond compare, and for the sake of this blog I shall unceremoniously remove them from the discussion in favour of looking at those people we encounter in everyday life (may that never include the one wielding the axe!)
And so, if we view every person we encounter without immediate judgement, hold the gavel high and view the courtroom with the benefit of a perspective flip, a little empathy thrown in and a healthy dose of the the compassion and love we wish they would show to us, then are they truly the bad guy?
Along a similar vein, we can treat ourselves in a good or bad manner. Following a daily yoga practice can be done with compassion, love and kindness to yourself, or it can be done out of guilt, the need to ‘tick the box’, the need to have a perfect body (whatever that is), with extra effort and dependency on ‘achieving a pose’, all culminating to cause yourself injury both physically and in the non-physical. This can be the case with any practice, from running marathons to playing basketball, from attending church to visiting your mosque, from creating art to creating a spreadsheet. Whatever your passion, whatever your discipline, whatever your belief system, whatever your practice, they can be approached by your internal ‘fairy godmother’ in a manner that is kind and bestows wishes, or conversely by your not-so-good fairy and in a manner that does not benefit you or anyone around you.
Try to approach yourself and others today and during the next week with a perspective flip. Be everyone’s fairy godmother. I wonder whether, by dropping our innate tendency to judge ourselves and other people, we could all have a better day? In gifting compassion we breed compassion. In gifting love to others we present more to ourselves. In loving ourselves we are free to leave judgement behind.
Keep your gavel aloft and have a perfectly perspective-flipping day!
With an abundance of love, Rowena x