I was explaining to a friend about my “judgey” series of blog posts. I told her I’d been ruminating for weeks on this topic, usually as I ride my bike around, and had been making notes on how I wanted to approach the issue, isolate the problem and propose a solution.
It struck me as I was explaining this to her that my bike was–for me–one solution to my judginess (self and otherwise)
When I ride my bike I feel I’m at my best. I’m strong, I’m happy, and mentally I find myself open minded and kind hearted.
Age may have a bit to do with it, too.
I think it’s true that as we get older
we tend to see life for what it’s worth
(the good and the bad) and realize that
any issue is more complex than a
first glance may reveal.
Changing the judginess is a process of changing a mind set. It’s a constant policing of my own internal thoughts.
When I find a harshly judging opinion crossing my mind I ask myself–kindly (after all, I’m trying not to be too hard on myself)–whether there’s a different way to look at this issue. I’m not saying this is easy – it’s not. But it is simple.
We instinctively know when we’re being too judgmental. We can feel it, and it’s not the best feeling in the world.
The fact that a certain superiority springs
from judging does feel good
obviously complicates the issue.
When we judge we feel small, mean, and not our best selves. So we try to walk away from those feeling as quickly as possible and slip immediately into the more delicious and longer-lasting feeling of superiority.
There Goes The Judge
What I’m proposing is that when you feel yourself putting together a judgmental thought about the guy in the car next to you, or the woman who bumped your cart in the market, or yourself when you catch a glimpse of your body in a plate glass window, hold onto that judgmental thought.
Really hold it for a moment. Think about the thought itself. Do you REALLY think that guy in the car is an “asshole?” Or could it be that he just miscalculated the distance between cars?
Is that woman who bumped you really a “bitch?” Or was she perhaps trying to avoid a clerk stocking beans on a lower shelf?
And are you really “ugly?” Or are you just a little fat? Do you just not conform to a conventional one-can’t-be-too-rich-or-too-thin mentality that relegates most of the population to unattractiveness? Remember, fat does NOT equal ugly, it’s a description in the same way that tall, short, thin or bow-legged are descriptions.
Now, I’m not saying that the guy may not be a bit of a jerk when he changed lanes, the woman a little self-involved and not noticing the carts around her, or that you might not need to lose a few pounds.
But in and of themselves, these are not hanging offenses. These are frailties – the kind every human carries and displays on a daily basis.
Beginning to cut slack to those around you, seeing their mistakes as human foibles (and viewing yourself in the same kind manner) is the first, simple step in quieting the judging voice in your head that may be holding you back from accomplishing all that you wish.
My bike is my safe, non-judging place, a lot of my joy in riding my bike springs from this. The genesis of my “Ride, fat girl, ride” shirt was to own the description, but not the baggage that comes with it. I made the shirt and wear it to OWN my weight, but also to show that my weight doesn’t OWN me.
Thom Hartmann is a writer and progressive commentator who has written many books. One that resonated with me was Walking Your Blues Away, which outlines a path for using physical exercise to conquer minor, daily depression.
Please know that I am NOT saying that all depression
can be handled with physical exercise.
I, myself, am a happy member of team fluoxitine.
But exercise can help your outlook amazingly!
In Thom’s book he writes about how the brain can be retrained using physical exercises, which I’ve used (both in walking and in bike riding) to very good effect.
One mental exercise I’ve developed for myself, which seems to work very well while riding my bike, is what I call the, “assume the best” game.
My mother used to say,
“Assume the best about someone’s motives.
If you assume the worst you’ll look like a bitch,
if you assume the best the worst you’ll look is a fool!”
I think about someone who I feel has been mean to me, done me wrong, wasn’t as thoughtful as I feel they should have been. Sometimes the person I think about is me. Then I try to assume the best about their circumstances. What was it that made them short tempered? Why were they brusque? What might be going on in their life right now?
This isn’t a panacea–I still find myself pretty angry at some folks and carrying grudges which hurt no one but myself–but this exercise does help.
And, in the same way that all my bike riding hasn’t made me thin but has made me healthier, I find the mental exercise has made me a nicer–if not consistently kind–person.
And perhaps a little bit less judgy.