How are you doing this week?
To me, every week feels strangely the same...yet different. Here's something I have recently become much more aware of. I've noticed my tendency to judge myself and my behavior a lot. Like, really often. Actually, it seems like I am doing it all the time.
Can you relate?
Since sheltering-in-place, maybe you call yourself "undisciplined" for not eating better, not cooking more, not exercising every day, or not making more progress on your work. Maybe you call yourself "lazy" or "unambitious" for not taking a class online, not reading more books, or not finishing the project that "now would be the perfect time" to complete.
Being productive is a core value of our busy culture, and a great deal has been written on the why's and how's of productivity. (In fact, when I checked the Barnes & Noble website today, there were 3,898 books listed on productivity.) I want to remind you, however, that this is a pandemic, not a staycation.....Waayyyy different.
You may in fact, have less focus than usual at this time. That's okay. In contrast, some people may actually feel they have more focus right now. That's okay too. We are all different in our temperaments and in the circumstances we are dealing with. But productivity is not the subject of this newsletter.
This email is about the judgement you place on yourself for whatever you do or don't do, and why that is getting in the way of doing your best.
Your mind continually reacts to your environment. As part of the safety mechanism of your brain, an automatic 'lookout' existed to help you stay out of danger, back in the days when vigilance and fast action were what kept you alive. In those days, straying from what your instincts told you to do could result in serious consequences (death by animals, not obtaining food for the day, etc). Fast forward to today, and there is still a part of your brain that continuously evaluates and reacts to situations, and almost automatically decides the 'correctness' of your actions. But these judgemental thoughts are just that....thoughts. And your thoughts about actions and events are not necessarily accurate. They are evaluations you make (typically in a split second) based on your past experiences, old habits and sometimes incomplete information. They are not always an accurate reflection of what's currently happening...right here, right now. They are the meaning you are making of what happened, and they are subjective.
This judgmental nature forms the lens through which you typically see the world, and yourself, every single day. You are continually behaving and evaluating everything about yourself...things like how you handled specific situations, and if what you did was 'good enough'. In addition, you often take those (usually negative) judgements, and use them to compare yourself to others. In that way, the judgements serve as a way of keeping you separated from others, acting as a divider between you and those who "did it better."
As an example, let's say you judge yourself harshly for reaching for junk food while watching Netflix on the couch at night. ("I am so bad. I always do this to myself."). Here are the problems with this judgement:
A more productive way to look at the situation would be to notice the behavior with curiosity. ("I wonder why I pop into the kitchen at 9pm every night while watching Netflix, even when I say I don't want to do that?"). Curiosity, in contrast:
If you are like most people, you probably make harsh judgements on yourself daily. But these judgements lock you into a negative vision of yourself, and leave you less likely to find new solutions to outdated ways of dealing with current situations. By contrast, curiosity leads you down a much more positive road. By asking a question, you are more open to seeing new possibilities that can move you closer to how you actually want to behave in a particular situation. In the above example, your curiosity would encourage you to look for reasons that the 9pm snack keeps calling you. What is really going on? Are you tired? Bored? Anxious? Feeling some sort of emptiness? In any of those cases, food would not be the best solution, and now you can figure out the action that would more likely create satisfaction. On the flip side, simply calling yourself "bad" would not likely have led you down that path.
By replacing judgement with curiosity, you are challenging your automatic tendency to be hard on yourself. When I work with my clients, this seemingly small shift in mindset often creates big changes in their behavior. They are open to new ideas and possibilities, and feel more empowered to reach their goals. In addition, this extra level of kindness they feel toward themselves allows them to be less judgmental, and therefore, kinder, to others. Better energy spreads everywhere. And, today, as the world faces this pandemic together, we need more kindness and cooperation in order to create a better, safer world for everyone.
Please take care of yourself, and remember that I am offering FREE Shelter-In-Place phone calls to discuss coping alternatives related to your specific situation. This could be:
To schedule a time, just click here.
As always, if you want to learn more about creating the life you desire by developing healthy habits and mindset, and how you can feel great in your body (without losing your mind), hit reply and send me an email, or call me at (201) 803-3257.
I'm also offering a free Discovery Session to discuss your health and life goals and how I can help you. Click here to schedule your free half-hour phone session with no obligation.
And please stay safe!
In Good Health,