In early 2018 I was invited to give a workshop about suspending judgment. As I wanted it to be creative and unique, I used an entirely new method that I invented the same week, rather than relying on the existing tools I'm familiar with. Just a few hours before the evening workshop, I suddenly had a light panic attack: What if they will hate it? What if the group won't understand what I want from them and will resist participating? Why did I have to be "innovative" on the account of risking it all?
Within the storm of those sabotaging thoughts, it suddenly hit me: I was doing the same thing that I was about to teach others how to avoid! I was judging myself harshly for trying something new, instead of letting myself the freedom to test and experiment.
Eventually, I went on with the new method and framework, and it went really well. I could hear myself breathing with relief when the evening was over, but what I really gained is a new understanding of pausing (self) judgment.
I won't tell you to stop judging yourself or others, because I think that this kind of preaching won't help anyway. Instead, I'm encouraging you to break this habit by pausing the judgment, and by taking the time to pose yourself some deep, provoking questions: What am I feeling right now? What triggers my emotion or my reaction of judging? How can I cultivate empathy, or self-empathy, to accept others or myself without judgment?
I know that ever since I reduced the self-pressure and made self-empathy a habit, it worked well for me. Reminding myself that in my work, life-and-death issues are not at stake; that it's OK to fail and it doesn't make me a failure; and that I should trust myself and the process even when it seems scary – are all key elements in my ability to suspend the habit of judgment
Davida is the author of "Burning Out Won't Get You There", co-founder and CEO of Enkindle Global, a Non-Violent Communication trainer and a Participatory Leadership facilitator. In between, she enjoys hiking with her kids and never says "no" to coffee and a good conversation.