Almost three months ago, I posted that I had started Healing Journey 3 at Hearth Place. I finished it… and then went right back into the class again. This time, we were about twice as big as the first time because the teacher didn’t want to keep anyone out. I went back because I didn’t do as much work on the course as I wanted. I didn’t complete several of the homework assignments, first because I got a nasty cold and then because I knew I was going to take it again and I’d already gotten a nasty cold and not done some of the homework so what did it matter if I didn’t do some more of the homework anyway?
So the first week was the last post — week 1. This week, we’re thinking about judgments.
One of the exercises was to write down every time you judge someone as you go about your daily life. I decided I was going to do that for a short time, perhaps 24 hours after the class. Well, I left at about 3:45 pm and did the exercise until I went to bed, and THAT WAS ENOUGH. I have to say, after all the work I’ve already done on my psyche, my past, and my pain, I would have expected better results. (I don’t think I’d want to see where I was three years ago!)
The honest truth is that we all do a lot of judging. I do a lot of judging. You do a lot of judging. Now–this is different than discernment, deciding objectively between two things or seeing the truth in a situation. Judging is when you perceive something about someone else (or sometimes, yourself) and you have a negative reaction toward it. Maybe someone said something that annoys you. Maybe you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see. Maybe someone cuts you off in traffic and you think unkind thoughts about them.
Aha! But if someone cuts me off in traffic, they deserve to have unkind things thought about them.
Yes. And it hurts you.
You’ve heard this before, I’m sure of it. Keeping anger harms you, being jealous harms you, not forgiving harms you. And maybe you rolled your eyes, like I did for most of my life. Don’t worry, though. Assuming that I’m going to have the energy to keep up these posts, I’m walking through how you get to a point where you nod along with a statement like, “Not forgiving harms you.”
The big secret to the universe is that there are no good and evil forces. There is only the self and the world that interacts with the self through the sensory organs. Seeing someone as “not me” through those sensory organs is what leads to evil deeds.
That’s right. I just told you that both of us do the same thing that led to Hitler killing millions of people.
So we’re back to judging other people. When we’re judging, we’re seeing people as “other,” and in the end, that hurts us. (I almost said that “in the end, that only hurts us,” but that’s not true. How much strife is happening in the world today because of in- and out-groups? How many children are being separated from their families because they had the audacity to be born in the wrong set of fake lines on a piece of paper? How many rights are being tread on due to forcing the beliefs of “those that the Flying Spaghetti Monster has shined Its favor upon” on “those unrepentant non-believers in Pastafarianism who don’t deserve freedom of religion?” It’s ugly and sad how little compassion is in the predominant energy of the Western world right now.
But I digress. And judge. Just as you did when you saw through my thinly veiled metaphors for my political opinions, whether you agreed with me or not. Don’t even pretend that you didn’t because you and me and the Great Goddess know that you did.)
We all live in a chemical soup of emotions. It has been scientifically proven that changing from living in a soup of negativity to living in a soup of positivity prolongs life, even in people with terminal illnesses (see Alaistair J. Cunningham’s books for citations; this blog isn’t meant to be a research paper). I don’t claim that term, but I’ll claim one step over the line, and I’m a prime example, so far, of what healing your emotions can do.
My CT scan came back with my breast tumor missing. And my liver seems clear except for a small cyst (which isn’t cancerous and is sort of normal and that I wouldn’t know about if I wasn’t getting regular scans). And all my bony lesions appear sclerotic (i.e. bone scar tissue). So.
Yelling at people on the freeway feels so good sometimes. So does being super angry when your spouse forgets your anniversary. Or when your kid fails Algebra. Or when you drop your butter knife covered in peanut butter on the floor for the third time.
But… Like… What’s it doing to you? Is it helping you not get cancer? I mean, if we were going to do a binary thing here, the answer is, it’s probably more likely to give you cancer than to heal you from cancer.
So my judgement list. I found that when I felt a negative emotion toward someone else, it was generally for one of two reasons. The first reason was that I felt someone was pushing me to do something I didn’t want to do (which included acting superior to me, meaning I felt, for a brief smidgen of time, inferior to them).
The second reason for a negative emotion was that I was feeling superior toward someone else. I will admit–watching a reality show completely wrecked my stats, although it wasn’t the only situation where I felt superior to (mostly) strangers. Reality shows are filmed in such a way to manipulate your emotions into feeling superior to those idiots on the screen, so that you feel good about yourself and keep watching. I still can’t get over the person on Nailed It! who used salt instead of sugar in a cake. I would never make that mistake (on a time-crunched reality show with a celebrity watching me and probably no access to my anti-anxiety medication). Right.
It makes me rethink the garbage I’m putting in my brain. Especially political garbage, which is ubiquitous. I stop following a friend on social media if they post a bunch of political stuff, and boom, someone else posts political stuff. Classic in- and out-groups. Even reading articles about “our side” makes us judgmental–because we’re not baby-eating goat-fuckers like our opponents and should therefore feel extremely superior.
Interestingly enough, one woman in our class asked a great question. “But am I just supposed to not have on opinion on anything?”
The answer is–no, you’re supposed to continue to have opinions. But to be healthy, you need to work (through spiritual and psychological exercises, which are, funnily enough, extremely similar) toward removing emotions from those opinions. You can wake up in the morning and go set the White House on fire* without feeling angry about it. Maybe a little nervous, but you don’t have to be in a froth-mouthed rage. You can feel something, move through it, make your decision, let the emotion go (which is different than suppressing it–an unhealthy response and one that I’m personally working on), revisit the decision to make sure it’s the right one once your adrenaline has settled down, and then act without emotion. You can get up every day and lead a revolution without emotion–because you already made the decision as to what to do. That is, dare I say, the point of spirituality, at least in most traditions. And you’ll be healthier, happier, and well-equipped to deal with whatever comes your way.
*This is a reference to the War of 1812 and not a suggestion.
So how do we do that?
Stay tuned for next time, when I reveal all the secrets!