“When you are without judgment, you are without fear. When you are without fear there is nothing you will not be able to accomplish”. As I am lying in Savasana, the final relaxation pose to an invigorating yoga session, I heard Mark Blanchard, the instructor, say these words. Although yoga is usually calming and clearing, the words motivated me to question what lies behind fear and judgment. Why is it that some days, we’re so judgmental and other days we could care less about the decisions the person next to us is making? This is a lesson I wish I’d learned many years ago, and one I try to teach the adolescents and adults with whom I work in my practice:
Once you are able to accept yourself, I mean fully accept who you are, what you look like and what you have to offer, only then can you let your guard down enough to drink in the life that you were given and enjoy the lives surrounding you.
Let’s examine how negativity can manifest itself on a daily basis. Well, have you ever been jealous, angry, controlling, sarcastic, critical or judgmental? Bingo! These are actions that we all have expressed to some degree. While they are normal and sometimes unavoidable, they are rarely successful in resolving a situation. Our brain believes these behaviors are necessary as they keep us protected, guarded and less likely to get hurt. Our mind is very well equipped to defend itself emotionally with what are called defense mechanisms. Defense mechanisms are useful as they will only allow the mind to engage in issues with which it can successfully handle. Defense mechanisms, however, can also keep one in a state of denial where we avoid dealing with what we need to cope with. If we never cope, issues just fester and grow until they are triggered and these negative behaviors are expressed, like a never-ending loop. Avoiding the issue and staying in this hamster wheel of emotion, people sometimes look for the quick fix to cope such as excessive drinking, drugs, gambling, shopping, sex, eating, etc. These coping skills may alleviate the pain momentarily, but only provide a false sense of temporary relief.
Picture an ice cream, cone shape figure. The top part of this cone will indicate where the negative actions are sent outward- anger, jealousy, judgement, etc. (This is where we feel defended and protected) Just below this surface lies a wall as thick as a slab of concrete. If you could drill holes into the concrete and work your way toward the center of the cone, you would see into the inner-most part of a person’s core. (This is where we are most vulnerable) Revealed, would be the more difficult to resolve feelings such as sadness, depression, guilt, shame and/or anxiety. As you can imagine, these feelings are much more difficult to address. They require the mind’s protective guard to drop, leaving a person to feel more vulnerable and exposed. As you work your way down through the middle of the cone toward the very tip, you’ll find an even more ingrained feeling of FEAR- fear of rejection, fear of abandonment. These deep-seeded emotions of fear are ingrained from a very early age. THIS is the core of what we are talking about and without addressing the intricacies of this fear, a person will just continue to react with defensive, negative behaviors instead of working through the root of the emotion.
Once people understand what motivates their behavior, they discover a renewed sense of confidence. Once they’ve addressed the causes of their insecurity, and discover ways to shift their thinking toward acceptance and possibly forgiveness, the walls come down. It is then that people are more comfortable with themselves, the fear lessens and a calming, confident, peacefulness finds a home in their heart, mind and lives. This shift will likely not happen over night and sometimes the road can be bumpy. A person is not expected to work through these buried issues alone and I recommend finding a licensed counselor to help guide you through this process. However, with someone by your side as you shed the layers, a lightness will be apparent. So please have patience and grace with yourself during this time.
Looking Outside Ourselves
Are there times when you are perplexed by other people’s reactions or behaviors? Do you sit back and just think, “What in the world is going on with that person?” Me too! Applying this idea to those expressing the negativity, may allow you not to just get angry, throwing your own defenses up, but rather have a sense of compassion. Understanding what could be behind the behavior, allows us the opportunity to not escalate a situation, but understand that this person is really operating from panic, and if we join in, this situation is going to get ugly, quick!
So, I wish you the ability to recognize the judgment, the anger, the sarcasm and really try to identify what the internal issue is. As we can all identify and work through the underlying, maybe unresolved issues, it is there where we can find peace.