2_Judging Differences_o4

Becoming more spacious and generous with our selves and others around differences; learning that difference need not be directional (e.g., good/bad, more than/ less than).

Judging Differences

When you are feeling judgmental about differences between your "way' and another's... Look for where you are not yet at peace with the rightness of your "way" for you! Give your self permission to be and to do what's right for you!

I was exploring, with some women I know, about the different ways we had each chosen to cope with our outsider status when we were in our early days of high school:

One had dealt with being outsider by conceding and despairingly resigning herself to the feeling of being less than.

The other had figured out ways to compete with and prove that she was as good as or better than any of the in-girls.

My own resolution had been deciding that the belongers and belonging itself were dumb; that belonging was less-than and that being different, being outsider was the superior way to be.

Of course, the resolutions we chose in those early years significantly influenced the ways we've each dealt with our differentness and with judgment – our own or others'– throughout our three lives. (We all, inside of our selves at the very least, have continued to feel our differentness.)

For most of my grown-up life, as I've tried to do what felt authentic and right-for-me, I've made choices that were over the edges of convention: Not birthing or raising children. Having an open marriage. Not going for post-doctoral training in psychotherapy before I started practicing. Dropping out of a high-rise, doorman, married, professional life-in-the-fast-lane. Living in a van on the road by my self for two years, doing nothing more than working on my tan. Choosing to expand and explore my conception of my own sexuality. Choosing to live voluptuously in a primary relationship with my Self. Choosing to reinvent how and what I do when I work as a therapist/coach. Choosing to live simply, to do as little as possible as I live in recovery-from-super achieving. Choosing to celebrate rest and moving only as fast as the slowest part of me feels safe to go.

Until my mid–forties (I'm now 72), while I neither noticed nor cared about how anyone else saw or judged my choices, I can see that I was always secretly involved in looking down my nose at the more conventional-seeming choices made by others around me.

My strongest judgments were focused (albeit secretly) around people's valuing partnered relationship, busyness and outward-directed lives as opposed to more solitary, unscheduled, inward/contemplative lives. And, to a lesser extent, I (still secretly) judged people for needing or choosing formal teachers and systems for the contemplative life rather than relying on their own inner guidance.

Over time, I began to question whether both my judging of other peoples' choices and my ideas of my own superiority were actually reflections of my being less than wholly comfortable with the acceptability – to me – of my own choices.  As I explored this idea, I saw that my choices were acceptable to me only when I could see them as superior to or healthier than other possible choices. If I thought they might be coming from wounded or as yet unhealed places in me, they became problematic.

As I went further with the exploration, I discovered that it was impossible to figure out to what extent my choices were made from my limitations as opposed to being made from my wholeness. All I could uncover about them with any certainty was that they seemed to be the best choices I could make for my self at the times that I made them. They addressed and were in harmony with my own needs and capacities-available-in-the-moment.

Actually, that's what made them right-for-me. As I began to accept that this was so, I could compassionately and unconditionally embrace all of who I might be in any situation. I could see my choices simply as the most-right-for-me-in-this-moment. I could let go of both the trumped-up vision of my superiority and the secret judging of others that made them wrong in order to make my self right.

When we can accept that we each can only make the choices that are right for us in the moment, we can begin to let go of the idea that there are choices that are absolutely right for everyone – including our selves. As we become more generous and spacious with our selves, we can better allow that differences just are and give up the belief that differences are directional: good/bad, more than/less than, important/insignificant, etc.

Let your self notice whenever you are openly or secretly judging or feeling superior to anyone else about some difference in your ways.  See if you can find more space for it to be okay just to be you where and how you are.  And, do consider not judging your judging.

Consider being really loving with your self just exactly where and how you are.