To Become Less Judgemental, Become More Present - Grasshopper
In fact, we become less of anything we perceive as counterproductive when we notice our ability to be present.
Notice that all the judgements live inside our heads. It only makes sense that we have to get out of our heads to be less judgemental, or less of anything else we perceive as not useful.
That means that we have to become present to what is, not what we think. When we become aware of only what's "there," the thoughts in our head dissipate into thin air.
We've all had moments of presence. We were so present to what was there, that there was no room for thought. If a scene of beauty just took your breath away, it also took your thoughts along with it. The reason you were speechless was because there were no thoughts in your head to express, only awareness.
How do we get more of those moments? It's not always practical or financially feasible to make a pilgrimage to Sedona or to scale Everest.
The first step is to notice that you are being judgemental. The next step is where we blow it. We proceed to have a conversation with ourselves about being judgemental or some other unwanted thought based state of mind. It goes something like this: "I shouldn't be so judgmental. I said I was going to work on that and here I am again, judging. I just can't seem to stop myself. I have to work harder at not being such an awful person."
A judgement, like any thought, just happens. It shows up unannounced. If you then beat yourself up for having that thought, you just produce more thoughts. Your thoughts become like pregnant cats, they just keep producing offspring.
When you have a judgemental thought, the key to having it not take on a life of its own is to just observe it. Just watch it float by. Don't attempt to stop it in its tracks by engaging it in debate or debasement, just become present to the thought – aware without the fanfare.
Once you develop the habit of observing rather than engaging, you will find more space between your thoughts and you'll naturally become more present. The mission is not to shut off the thought machine, just observe it in action. Just by becoming more present to what you are thinking will cause you to think less. You'll experience more of those "Sedona" moments without having to pack a bag.
Here's an example of judgement going awry: If you describe yourself as someone who experiences a lot of guilt, you are joined at the hip with your thoughts. You are not aware of them; you have become them.
Let's say that you reacted poorly in a past situation. You now have some distance from it and are experiencing more clarity. This may cause you to offer an apology for your behavior. That's productive! To continue to berate yourself after that, will only produce more guilt. That's because you are judging a past action by a present level of awareness. Rather than just becoming aware, you engage the mythical "Way back thought machine." "If I could go back and relive that moment over, I would do it differently. I wouldn't have acted so inappropriately." That's regret, that's impossible, and that leads to guilt.
Observing the guilty thoughts starting to form will allow you to watch them parade by, rather than have them form into a giant float in your mind.
The path to serenity is paved with observations – observing your thoughts rather than engaging them. This produces what has been preached for thousands of years - The peace that passes all understanding.
All the best,
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