A Coaching Power Tool created by Pamela Speder
(Leadership Coaching, UNITED STATES)
How often have we come across someone who is stuck and can’t move forward? Are they using the too high of a standard to judge themselves that they are unable to accept anything less? Do they have the same expectations of others that they have for themselves?
There are many associations with the word judgment. For the purposes of the Power Tool, “the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing” and “an opinion or estimate to be formed” are the definitions of judgment referenced.
It is human nature to judge. However, judging ourselves and judging others can forms negative beliefs, leading to less than desirable behavioral patterns and a life with many disappointments. However, the closer we move to acceptance of our self and of others, the more we can let go of judging our self, judging others and letting others’ judgments affect our fulfillment.
We tend to set expectations around what we “should” be or “should” do and it is usually different and better than we currently are and then we tend to judge ourselves against that better version of ourselves in addition to judging ourselves in comparison to others. We may perceive ourselves short of those expectations and develop a negative belief that we are “not good enough” (smart enough, successful enough, beautiful enough, etc.). Herein steps the self-fulfilling prophecy, a prediction that directly or indirectly
causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior.
Judgment is extremely prevalent in our society; we are surrounded by strong opinions and judgments in the media, in the workplace, and in our social circles, not to mention expectations set for what we “should” look like or what we “should” achieve, etc. One example is the awareness that comes with becoming a new parent, particularly mothers, relative to judging self and judging others. First of all, a new responsibility, particularly one as significant as being responsible for another human being, brings with it an additional workload and new expectations (internal and external) to manage leading to possible negative self-judgments in the effort to meet all of the expectations. Another surprise to many new mothers as they reach out for support and input is that many mothers have strong opinions on parenting techniques and other related topics that they pass on to others. When they are not met with agreement, their reaction may be perceived as judgmental. Speaking of children, if only we could all stay as innocent as a child lacking judgment and quick to accept.
It is clear that judging someone does not define who they are, it defines who the judge is. For real change, it is critical to start by dismantling self-judgments that create so much dissatisfaction. When self-judgments are eliminated, the natural result is self-acceptance followed by acceptance of others. It is important to try, to the best of our ability, to stay out of ego and not impose our feelings and opinions on others. With loving self-acceptance, the mind will open with clarity to love, understand, and appreciate that each of us is on a different path with a different purpose and different lessons to learn. We are all where we “should” be and we are only responsible for ourselves. It is vital to allow others to live their own lives and find their own solutions to their problems, free of judgment.
Acceptance provides the ability to let go of things that can’t be controlled – judgments, expectations, etc. The energy available from not judging and letting go of expectations provides more time to focus on what is meaningful and important resulting in more fulfillment, satisfaction, and peace. Complete acceptance allows us to feel worthy of our gifts and our accomplishments with a greater sense of gratitude to our Creator. Accepting ourselves and others allows us to exude positive energy and live life abundantly.
If you want to reach a state of bliss, then go beyond your ego and the internal dialogue. Make a decision to relinquish the need to control, the need to be approved, and the need to judge.– Deepak Chopra
Let’s take a simple example of a fellow student’s writer’s block. She sat down to write her final paper but she had a tough time coming up with a topic that satisfied her and once she finally narrowed it down to a few options, she still struggled to get her ideas flowing. She kept getting ‘stuck’. Throughout her life she has almost always held high expectations for herself in all aspects of her life. She strives for perfection and this paper was no different. She even read other students’ papers to help her trigger ideas and gain inspiration. As she reviewed other papers, she noticed that her own high expectations were a reference and when noticing the high quality delivered by her peers, the bar only became higher for her own paper. Eventually, she set it aside to focus on other aspects of her life but still holding on to that ‘stuck’ feeling. In the meantime, she continued to grow through other experiences and learned more about herself and her bias toward perfection. The more she learned how unrealistic and unhealthy perfection is, the more she realized she needed to let go of it and learn how to accept herself and although she made progress using various approaches, it was not until she focused on her spiritual needs that she came across the following passage
from the book Becoming a Woman of Simplicity:
God’s love is unconditional, and He wants us to be free from the burden of feeling that we must work for His acceptance and instead be free to do the good things He has planned for us.
This message addressing the spiritual aspect along with other profound life experiences happening simultaneously helped her get “unstuck” by gaining the self-acceptance she desired and needed. Through greater self-acceptance, she also gained a deeper ability to graciously accept others as they are. Another interesting thing happened as well. She noticed that when she felt others may be judging her, she didn’t seem to mind as much because she knew she was accepted by a higher being and by herself and everything else had much less significance and therefore, less impact. What a feeling of freedom and fulfillment.