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Softening the Blow of Judgement

December 2022 I had a friend who promised me something, then rescinded their offer after I had made plans around what was promised. Having to reschedule was upsetting. Because of their action, all their promises turned sour in my mind. There was a sense that I couldn’t rely on them anymore. AND, I also decided that they didn’t care about me (which of course was an inaccurate assumption). I could feel my mind wanting to judge them, and make them wrong and greedy and whole bunch of other labels. But then something within me spontaneously interrupted that inclination, and held me back from judging. It’s hard to identify what exactly stopped me from going into judgment and blame. Maybe it was all the years of meditation retreats, or the gentle reminders from mentors and therapists. Maybe it was the deeply-rooted understanding that when I put a label on someone else, I am often projecting* my own faults or qualities. Whatever the cause, I stopped and realized that all that was happening was just a change to the original situation. Everything else was just an old pattern of adding on blame and unnecessary judgment. And there was no need to add anything to the situation. I was so grateful for this moment of relief. In the past, I would have gotten mad and upset. But this time, no further emotion was needed. It simply took a bit of breathing space and a willingness to not make the other person, or the situation, a problem. I’m not saying I liked it, but I was able to simply accept it. It turns out that halting the impulse to judge was much gentler on my mind, heart, and nervous system then spouting anger at them. People don’t always do what they say they are going to do (self included). We don’t always take the other person’s feelings into consideration. We can be forgetful. We base our decisions on all sorts of things, and we also change our minds. We can still have feelings and thoughts about the people and situations we relate with, yet we don’t need to react as if things should be different. Sounds so damn easy! Ha! If nothing else, we can open to that potentiality. In doing so, we unburden ourselves from the well-worn track of self-righteousness and divisiveness. It’s a relief from the pain of separation when we can let go of judgment. We can then understand at a profound level that we are all human, and we are all doing the best we can in any given moment. It actually feels quite freeing! Projection according to the website “choosing therapy”: “Psychological projection is a defense mechanism that involves attributing one’s own feelings, desires, or qualities to another person, group, animal, or object.1,2,3,4 For example, the classroom bully who teases other children for crying but is quick to cry is an example of projection. They’re projecting their own sense of shame and weakness for crying onto others as a means of self-protection.”

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