In yesterday's post, I brought up the delicate topic of judgment, and how I have often felt judged and been judged when it comes to my eating habits. And that is what makes judgment so delicate because BEING judged and FEELING judged are not one and the same. One is a reality, and one is a story. One is fact and one is fiction.
Perhaps you are being judged. Perhaps you are not. Perhaps you are being judged positively. Perhaps you are not. Sometimes you may never know.
But if you are anything like me, the not knowing sometimes makes it worse, and you ruminate on the POSSIBILITY of it, try to make meaning and understand it, fight and defend yourself inside your own mind, and generally drive yourself crazy, all the while the other person is off doing their own thing, most likely not even thinking about you.
Ever had that happen? Sucks, right?
So, what do we DO in those moments, when our mind is going bat-shit crazy about the possibility that someone judged us wrongly, or poorly?
We dive in and investigate, like an archeologist digging up ancient artifacts.
Here are two ways I investigate those "feeling judged" but knowing if I was really being judged thoughts.
1) SEPARATE THE FACT FROM THE FICTION
First, I get out a big piece of paper. Yes this is IMPORTANT because you want to objectively see what is happening in your mind, and the only way to do that is to get it out of your head and onto paper. Next, I draw two big circles on it. The circle on the right I label FACTS and the circle on the left I label MEANINGS.
Next, I list out what the facts of the situation are as if I am looking through a video camera that does not capture sound. His lips moved and his mouth opened and closed. She raised this eyebrow. He moved closer in. I moved further away. Etc.
Then I turn the sound on, but turn the emotions and tonality off. He said these words. I said these words. She said these words. I said these words.
Once I have all the facts listed out, I turn to the circle on the right and connect all the facts to the meaning that I made from it. When she raised her eyebrow, I made it mean that she was questioning me. When he said, "Oh" I made it mean that I doesn't like my choices. Etc.
Finally, I slow down and get curious about all the other possible meanings that I could make about the facts, if I didn't have my own insecurities and baggage hanging around. When she raised her eyebrow, it's possible that she was intrigued and wanted to know more. She he said, "Oh" it's possible that he wants to learn all about how I stopped eating sugar so easily. Etc.
This process allows me to see the meaning and story that I am making up. In the words of the Landmark Forum, I am a "meaning-making machine." You are too, my friend :)
2) DO THE WORK OF BYRON KATIE
Before I share this process, I want to be clear that some people love Byron Katie's framework called The Work, and other people think it causes more trauma and pain, for people who have already endured their share of trauma and pain.
I first learned about The Work and read the bookLoving What Is by Byron Katie in 2012 after I had left a not-so-great-work-situation, and was knee deep in anger, resentment, and judgment about my former employer and myself. The Work helped me to release a lot of that and find a sense of peace and power that I hadn't known how to tap into before.
Most recently, the Emerge Book Circle read Byron Katie's book as a group, and I was re-united with the process. I also hosted a certified facilitator of The Work which gave me even more opportunity to practice out loud with others.
The Work at its core it, is a series of 4 questions and a few turn arounds, that one can play with and use to examine thoughts that bring about stress.
The 4 questions are:
1) Is it true?
2) Can you absolutely know it’s true?
3) How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
4) Who would you be without the thought?
1) To self
2) To the other
3) To the opposite
I'll walk you through an example.
Thought: _______________ looked at me like I am crazy when I shared my eating habits.
1) Is it true?
I have no idea. She could have looked at me with surprise. She could have looked at me in admiration. She could have looked at me and thought, "I want to be like her."
2) Can you absolutely know that it's true?
Already said no above, so no need to keep going.
3) How do you react, what happens when you believe this thought?
I become frustrated, angry, and sad. I don't feel welcome and want to flee. I attack back in my own head and start criticizing her back. I become petty looking for evidence for why she is crazy.
4) Who or what would you be without the thought?
I would be free. I would be able to connect and let go of the incident and move on, realizing that it is a story in my own head, due to my own insecurities and my desire to belong.
1) I look at myself like I am crazy for my eating habits.
YES...this is true! Sometimes the way that I share my eating habits is done in a way to make it sound crazy. I even refer to myself as crazy.
2) I looked her like she is crazy because of her eating habits.
Even though I am not outwardly criticizing her eating habits, I suppose that in a small way I am criticizing her for choosing not to eat like me. Perhaps I think she is crazy for NOT knowing what I know and not eating like I eat.
3) My thinking is crazy when it comes to my eating habits.
Yep, this is true too. I can get crazy and fanatical about my own eating habits and within my own head. Doing research upon research, and then trying to "convert" other people to eating less sugar.
Please note that the "My thinking" is a bit of a divergent practice from the regular turn arounds, but it works in this manner better than the turn around to the opposite.
And that's it. Two how-to's to help you separate fact from fiction and move from feeling judged to feeling something less icky.
If you want me to walk you through either format, please give me a shout.
Live. Love. Learn. Lead.
It's Theresa, founder of the Emerge Book Circle(s). These musings are focused on the living, loving, learning and leading that occurs everyday, in all its messiness.
Please comment and share as you feel inspired.
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