Mini-Post: 32 Flavors of Judgement

I was a bit proud of a post on my blog’s Facebook page a few days ago. It went a little like this:

If I judge myself based on the eyes of society, I fail because there are too many opinions.
If I judge myself based on my own criteria, I still fail because my mind changes moment to moment.
But if I learn to identify and recognize the particularly sour flavor of ‘judgement’ as it arises, I can spit it out and take a sip of water, savoring the complicated colorful glorious mess of perfection that takes judgement’s place. And then maybe I can do something from the heart.

If we learn to smell judgement, no matter how cozy it looks, we can put the cup down!

If we learn to smell judgement, no matter how cozy it looks, we can put the cup down!

This idea was rolling around in my head for a few sleepless hours during the night, and I was excited to wake up and explore it. It was inspired by the most recent blog post in some ways.

 

The Lose-Lose Situation of Judging Yourself Lovingly

I feel like a lot of times in self-helpy circles or new-age ones, there’s this idea of “The only person’s whose judgement matters about you is your own.” But see, that doesn’t work for me.

Because if I judge myself, I’m still judging, and judging is kind of a lose-lose situation. I’m either better-than or worse-than something or someone else, and neither of those feels good. When I feel worse-than, it seems like I should feel “happy” once I’m better-than, but if such a thing does happen through some quantifiable event, it still doesn’t feel good, because then something or someone is in the worse-than slot.

Maybe I’m a hippie and December 21st 2012 is coming, but I really am feeling like duality is falling away from me like an old skin. It’s still always going to be there, but there seems to be a light beyond it. There seems to be a choice now.

There is a line in a song I recently made that says “Duality only goes so far, and it always seems to stop just shy of right where you are.” That pretty much sums it up. We are never in an either/or better/than situation, so those words and judgements are never going to fully feel real and present. Reality just isn’t that way. Or as Greg Brown says, “This life is a thump-ripe melon. So sweet and such a mess.”

But What if I’m Only Thinking Happy Judgy Thoughts?

If we want to see ourselves as lovable and worthy, that’s great. I don’t think that’s the same as “judgement” if we are really feeling that sense of love, because feelings are not felt in words. Does that make sense? Thinking “I must be lovable!” creates a natural void where “not-lovable” lives, and we can fall into it at any moment as long as Judgement is our shaky wildly unpredictable ground.

But feeling lovable, even for a moment, is not creating an opposite, it just is. Maybe making the choice to feel the things we want (or try to) is better than thinking them with our all-positive-yet-forced judgement.

Those are the thoughts for this mini-post!

Your Turn!

Do you have feelings about judgement? Do you think that you are your own best critic, as they say, or do you think that something else is?

Do you like feeling “better than” other stuff, even if it’s just your previous selves that you are “better than”?

Do you think it’s possible to live outside of duality for more than a few seconds at a time? Do you think those seconds are valuable anyway?

Does the whole concept of duality just confuse you and make you want to go find a cozy blanket and watch the Alien anthology?

Checking Stats: The Deception & Addictiveness of Simplicity

I noticed an interesting event a few mornings ago when I looked at the clock the second I returned from a dog walk. “Aw, 10:15 already?” I said, but a nanosecond before looking at the numbers, my mind said “you’re going to think it’s late.” I realized that no matter what the numbers on the clock were, I was going to think it was late, because I was feeling rushed. It had nothing to do with the numbers.

Numbers affect me. I’m competitive in some ways. If we start playing a card game, I’ll want to win really, really bad. Not for any good reason. If there’s a game of me versus myself, I’ll still want to win. And that is where the stats come in.

Noticing the Impact of Stats & Numbers

Many of us use WordPress Stats, and any other social sites you are on may also have them. The musically oriented Soundcloud, for example, recently added one big box that just says “Views today” and “Views Yesterday” side by side. You can see in one nanosecond whether or not you had more views today or yesterday. That shift really caused me to see how much my brain is attracted to and affected by rather meaningless numbers.

It happened instantly. I wanted the number to be bigger today than yesterday.

The same happens with the Facebook page for my blog. There are even red and green arrows showing how many more or fewer people saw my posts each week, and they affect how I judge myself, the blog, and the value of it all. It’s not always conscious, but I want to be told “Good Job!” by the numbers just like I tried to always get A’s in school. I don’t like red arrows pointing downwards and telling me that I did worse today than yesterday.

The Difference Between Stats & Meaning of Stats

Maybe yesterday I got 800 blog hits and today I have 12. Maybe today though, someone sends me an email and tells me that because of reading my blog, they realized they wanted to stop harming themselves. Or maybe that happens and they don’t tell me.

According to the stats and my stat-focused-mind, the 800-hit day was better. According to my meaning-focused mind, the 12-hit day was better, unless I don’t know about that person and their decision. According to the dog, the best day was whichever one included bacon.

The world is bigger than those stats but it shrinks to their size pretty darn fast. They can seem to eclipse all else, at least for me, especially if I’m already in “a mood.”

What does this mean? I don’t know. Just that it’s something to pay attention to.

Why Do Some Of Us Love Numbers?

My guess is that it’s because they are concrete at first glance. It’s easy to look at Soundcloud now and say “Yesterday I did better than today” because of those huge in-your-face numbers that you can’t get rid of.

I can go to my blog’s Facebook page and look at the red arrow pointing downwards telling me that I have 357 fewer views this week than last week and feel like I did “worse” this week. This week was “bad”.

Good/bad, right/wrong, dark/light, sick/well, these things are addictive because they are deceptively clear and simple. They let us ignore the feeling of being uncomfortable, of stepping into new territories, and of facing the moment in an authentic way that does not rely on duality for judgement. stats 2

And I think the developers know that. Numbers cause an instant reaction. I get a slight rush when the numbers go up, almost regardless of what they actually indicate. A minute ego-boost happens when they go up. When they go down, I want to fix it. Like a rat in a cage trying to get pellets.

Using This In A Useful Way

On that morning I realized that the clock was going to be “too late” no matter what time it said, I made a decision inside. That decision is to pay attention to how numbers affect my mind. To remember that the picture is always bigger than the numbers, even if that’s less comfortable to perceive or acknowledge.

Since I know that my particular brain is prone to latching onto the numbers in their alluring simplicity, I can keep a special eye on that. My world doesn’t need to be reduced in that way, regardless of what imaginary safety that provides in the moment. This is not restricted to statistics.

This goes for feelings of success/failure, good/bad, awesome/sucky. Any time I attempt to judge myself in this black or white way can probably be looked at more closely because in reality, things are never quite that simple. I’m going to see if this shift helps me to react less to these numbers and to let go of some of the habitual overly-dualistic thinking and self-judgement patterns that don’t quite serve me.

Your Turn:

How about you, do you have a huge tendency to check stats and numbers? Do you have a Facebook page with those red and green arrows, and do you use them or try to ignore them?

Have you found ways of making real use of the numbers and stats for your overall purpose on this planet, whether it’s to help people or make money or make art or anything else?

Are the numbers useless?

Are the numbers just here nor there for you and they are easy to ignore or look at without getting too attached?

 

Related posts for inspiration:

A Lateral Plunge: The Natural Laws of Blogging

The Therapy Booth and their Facebook page with the Don’t Worry Clock!

The Five-Minute Secret

Since it only takes a moment for your mood to shift, it’s amazing what you can accomplish in just five minutes!

I don’t know about you guys, but lately I am absolutely loaded with things to do! Working my own hours with my writing job means that I consistently have the “I should be working” feeling if I try to do anything else. Having a book to write leaves me with a little voice whispering “Stop neglecting me, I want to play!” Oddly enough, that’s also what my dog keeps saying. In my head.

Then there is hiking to be done, meditation to commit to, a yoga practice to maintain, and my physical health! Not to mention the songs I’m trying to write on guitar and the little garden I’m building up, my dog’s training classes, and this blog! Also, I want to get better at spinning fire poi. Endless loves of my life, these things, and yet sometimes an entire day will pass where all I do is one or two of them. I’ll think of them all, but my actual energy will not be spent on them.

This can lead me to feeling in a rather bad mood. You could easily look at me like I am crazy, since I make my own hours and can, at any point, decide to do my book or guitar or dog play time or anything. Yet it’s hard for me to get out of the funk of “I need to work-work-work” and “I need to only work on my book when I have a whole day to devote to it,” and yada yada yada.

What I realized today is that there is a magic secret to all of this.

Today when I woke up I realized that my moods were getting a bit powerful.  I set my little timer and meditated for five minutes. It was the first time in several months that I had done so. Then, when I brushed my teeth, I stretched more than usual. Pandora was playing Bob Dylan, and I danced. I pretended that I was spinning my fire poi, and tried to make sure that my feet reached every part of the floor at least once.

Then I took little breaks during my work day and recorded some versions of songs I was working on, and found websites that relate to this blog entry so that I could make the links more easily. Never taking more than five minutes to do any of these things.

Turns out, five minutes is a long time; and not only that, but there is a snowball effect when you start indulging in these lovely things!

If you care about how many calories can be burned in five minutes, there is a great chart on this link. You can see that five minutes of anything can burn up some of the calories you’ve eaten, which can feel great if you are looking to do that sort of thing.

For those of us that are avid anti-calorie counters, there are also immense benefits of five minutes of meditation. With such a short period of time, you are not going to be getting as much cumulative benefits as with a longer sit,but you are getting something; and something is better than nothing. You can reverse your stress response. For me, I notice that even after a five minute sit, my body feels more grounded and I am more likely to think before making snap reactions during the day.

Furthermore, there are benefits of five minutes of massage! Of course, it is great for someone else to do the massage; and ideal for it to be longer. But when is the last time you sat in a comfy position and rubbed the back of your head and neck for five minutes? It will help move your lymph, reduce your stress, prevent some trigger points from forming, and make you feel good.

The last thing I’ll discuss here is how great it is to spend five minutes outside. When you see the health benefits of spending five minutes outside, you will realize that it is one of the easiest things to do. I’m willing to bet that plenty of you guys are just like me in that you spend a lot of time doing what you have to do, a bunch of time doing what you want to do, and yet you still feel that there are things that you do not have time for.

I think that the five minute mark is a great one to work with. Anyone has time to put five minutes into a sitting meditation, or into a walk. And then, once you do one of those things that you know you need to do, you will end up doing more; I almost guarantee it!  At least, that is how it worked for me. The five minute snowball miracle.

What are some of the things that you wish you had more time for in your daily life? Are you ever surprised with how much you can accomplish in five minutes? I know I sure am!