Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world.
Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. – Rumi
Does this sound familiar?
You're someone up to good, important work – world-changing stuff - in your family, team, organization and/or community.
You care about people, and the critical issues that impact the world around you.
It's all great stuff, and sometimes it's hard, really hard: you run into barriers, you can't get it all done, and you wonder if you can really keep going.
And so you stress out, become overwhelmed or completely frustrated.
Which (unfortunately) can get in your way of getting your fabulous work accomplished, and out in the world.
It's normal to experience some discomfort, stress and difficulty especially when you are up to big things in the world. (Anticipate it, actually.)
But somehow we have decided that this shouldn't be the case: that somehow it "should" be easier, or if it's not, we must be doing something wrong.
Because we resist difficulty, and label it as bad, inappropriate, or wrong – and/or judge others or ourselves as insufficient, incompetent or wrong simply because something has proven to be more difficult than we imagined.
This line of thinking tends to lead towards more judgement, especially of ourselves, and there you are: firmly stuck in more discomfort, overwhelm and frustration. Taa-dahh!
The way out of this muck is to stop evaluating ourselves, others or the experience so harshly.
Instead of judging it, if we can learn to simply be with the experience – good, bad or indifferent – we can actually process and learn from the experience more quickly than if we can continue to resist and criticize the experience, others or ourselves.
When next you find yourself stuck in judgment, try this:
1) Stop. What is the story you are telling yourself about your experience, other people or yourself? Notice any trends or themes, as well as any assumptions (e.g., "shoulds") you might be making.
2) Instead of judging your experience, other people or yourself, see if you can cultivate a sincere curiosity about what is actually going on.
Imagine that you're an anthropologist or visitor from another land and describe the situation and its characters in neutral and descriptive terms: What do you notice? What is happening? What do these people care deeply about?
3) Now, from your observations and a continued sense of curiosity, consider what is possible. What is next?
In the comments below, I'd love to hear from you. Tell me:
– What works for you when you are overwhelmed, stressed or stuck in judgement mode?
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