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  • Sherise Schlaht

BEYOND JUDGEMENT

Updated: Oct 1, 2019

In the spirit of Dax Shepard, "Welcome, welcome, welcome!" To fully understand this reference, you may have to listen to the introduction of his podcast, Armchair Expert. For those that don’t have the time to do so, or don’t care, welcome back to #thoughtfultuesday! There seems to exist this strange juxtaposition in which it is hard to believe a week has come and gone, yet the week has been full, and time appears to be moving slowly when experienced in retrospect (I have likely mentioned this before, but it was true in this moment yet again). I hope that everyone survived the storm from hell. If you didn’t experience said storm from hell, count your blessings. On an emotional level, I barely made it through. I experienced numerous moments of awareness of my miserable mind in relation to the hell storm, but I decided to camp out in my misery. This was especially apparent in the many, many back-breaking attempts to move two feet of wet and condensed snow a few steps to the left or right. I had many complaints against existence in my struggle: This is when being single is extremely unfair. I am such a small human, if only there was someone much larger than I to help out, or better yet, do this for me. I might be one of a handful of women out here doing this shitty work. For your information, the more consumed I became in my complaints, the more the anger set in, and the more aggressively I moved the concrete snow. Take this as proof that misery has its perks. For the sake of making this slightly more entertaining, I may be using exaggerative language regarding the above experience, but in complete honesty it isn’t that far off from the reality of the situation. I was cognizant that there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about the weather, and my perspective could either be one of resistance or acceptance, but I was firmly determined to take the path of resistance. If you chose the path of acceptance, judge me from your pious stance. I can assure you that there will be infinite opportunities for you to join me in my misery.

On the whole, this is completely analogous of life. I am certain that it is impossible to count how many times throughout the day, an hour, a minute, a second, a nanosecond that we flip between acceptance and resistance. One of the many wise women of my weekly group expressed, “No wonder we are so exhausted at the end of each day.” Even when we sleep, the mind is still at play. On a side note, I am convinced Billie Eilish is a fully enlightened being (who I may add is only a teenager) to have developed an album titled, “When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” Nonetheless, this is exactly the point of investing in awareness, as it provides distance and a much-needed buffer between us and our minds. Otherwise, we unknowingly allow our thoughts to dominate our lives. It is guaranteed that our mind will wander and spin, this is the inherent nature of the mind, but we do not have to believe or follow every wander and/or spin. My mentor would say, “Do not entertain the mind.”

I may be completely full of bull, but I get the sense that we have an inclination towards resistance or acceptance. I have a proclivity towards resistance as is evidenced by my annoyance towards boundless optimists and positive psychology. I have always felt I am in good company amongst a healthy level of cynicism and pessimism. In the spirit of skepticism, be wary of the person whose positivity and optimism are masked as acceptance, but in actuality are resistances to the truth of the situation. During a lecture in Adult Psychopathology, the professor stated that individuals with depression have a more realistic perception of life and its circumstances. I have held onto this notion like a badge of honour. Nothing like confirmation bias to fuel the ego.

Anyways, to dial in my rambling, I am curious today about the phenomenon of judgement. Seemingly, judgement comes hand in hand with forming a self-concept. Although I cannot confirm this, I speculate that babies don’t experience judgement. Once there is a realization that the self is separate from all else, there begins a process of labelling, defining, and objectifying. Prior to this, we experience each moment exactly as it is; almost as if we are connected to the divine flow of life, in which feelings and needs ebb and flow without the mind perceiving. I can attest to the fact that when I am witnessing something for the first time, it is met with curiosity and awe. Once the process of understanding, identifying, and familiarizing unfolds, that something loses its allure. Perhaps the tragic story we are told, and accordingly the perceptions of Alzheimer’s and dementia aren’t as they seem. In many ways, the deterioration of the mind is quite beautiful; one loops through past memories and present experiences exactly as they are. Each revisiting or experiencing is anew, full of feeling. What a gift to embrace the isness of each moment.

It is known that judgements are creations of the mind, for we judge our encounters, others’ encounters, our beliefs and opinions, others’ beliefs and opinions, our bodies, others’ bodies, our overall image, others’ overall image …. The judgements go on and on and on. In my experience, the more disconnected I feel from existence itself, the more pervasive my judgements are. I have a thought experiment, of which I invite you to try. Think back to a time in your life when you felt especially disconnected and isolated; a time you would consider to be particularly painful. Reflect on your perceptions and beliefs of others and your overall worldview. When I engage in this memory, the world is dreary, spiteful, and painful; evil to a certain degree. In relation to others, I am distrustful and encounter individuals that I have convinced myself intend to hurt me. Now I encourage you to reflect on your views of yourself during this time. In this phase, I wasn’t fully aware of how fixated I was on my own self-judgement and hatred. What was occurring was the projection of all of my self-loathing onto others and the world. Since I was dumping my shitstorm into the universe, the universe mirrored this back to me. The point of this thought experiment my friends is not to create another judgement upon judgements, but rather to be a catalyst. The tendency when in this phase, is to continue externally seeking (likely frantically seeking), desperately hoping for some radical situation or individual to deliver hope and sunshine. Even though I can assure you that this pursuit is endless and won’t deliver, you have to discover this for yourself; we all do. We can digest facts and information, but we don’t understand them until we do. In this moment of clarity, it is evident that the universe doesn’t have some sort of agenda for us, but rather reflects what we put into it. This reflection is open to our interpretation, but it does require us to take an honest and heartfelt look in the mirror, and openly receive what it is being shown to us about ourselves. Perhaps this is the beautiful mess that is life; we are unable to view our situation in third person until we have moved beyond it. If you are experiencing life from a stance of drudgery and misery, much like I was as I angrily shovelled the concrete snow, I invite you to join me in stillness and to find the courage to meet yourself in the mirror.


Hakuna Matata,


Sherise

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