I have been finding lately that I have become particularly sensitive to one of my pet-peeves–when others are judgmental or demeaning of others. For a while, I used to be able to turn the other cheek to it, and sort of coach myself into not letting it affect me (“Oh, you know that isn’t really true,” “What a person says about someone else really has more to do with how they feel about themselves than the other person,” etc.) While intellectually I know these are true (and are also applying to myself in this instance), I still have been finding myself fuming when I hear these harsh criticisms, and it is hard for me not to snap, and if I don’t snap I find myself taking it out passive-aggressively at that person.
I can see part of my sensitivities being that I can relate to the person they are criticizing and in turn feeling belittled myself. I also see that I, too, am being critical of these people in their judgmental moments.
Needless to say, while I can recognize these things intellectually, I still get so caught up in my anger that I really can’t experience things that way at the moment. Do you have any advice for moving through these feelings and cultivating more acceptance for those people and myself? Also, do you have any recommendations for ways to acknowledge my feelings in the moment, but not create a “scene” when I start to fume?
To be honest, as I am writing this I am starting to see that I am afraid of those people thinking that I am less than perfect by giving in to my anger…and also afraid that I might really let loose if I allow myself. But I would still really appreciate your thoughts.
Dear Hulk (great name) :),
There are a couple of things here that I want to touch upon. First of all, you bring much wisdom with this inquiry: Your anger is most certainly exacerbated by your own self-judgments. Your mind is telling you in those moments that it is not ok to have a voice, that your thoughts and feelings are in the wrong, that you shouldn’t get angry, and well, that would make the best of us scream in frustration. Your anger comes in reaction to a thought that is untrue: “You shouldn’t judge people.” What is reality telling you? That this person is judging people. That you are judging this person. That you are judging yourself. The truth is, this is what we as people do. We judge. “The sky is blue.” “He’s really tall.” “She’s black.” “She’s white.” “I’m smart.” “I’m too emotional.” “My anger is wrong.” People judge–being “perfectly” human means being a judging being.
You are, of course, smart in seeing that you are merely exercising your own judgment when you tell others they shouldn’t judge. That is a great moment to come back to your own business and step away from what you can’t actually control (the other person’s business). Who would you be, how would you react if you didn’t believe the thought, “You shouldn’t judge people?” Experience that person saying something judgmental. Really go into that space and envision yourself without the thought, “You shouldn’t judge people.” Would you perhaps feel less responsible for correcting it, more understanding, more patient, etc.? You fill in the blanks. Now I want you to turn it around–in what ways are you judging both yourself and that other person? (You gave a great example of self-judgment by recognizing that you react to those judgments made by others in part because you believe that those are true judgments about yourself). Look at you and that person doing what humans do. The more that you question these thoughts, the more you will discover your inherent compassion for yourself and the other person.
Similarly, when you find yourself angry and believe the thought, “I shouldn’t get angry,” you are again, out of alignment with reality and intensifying the anger. We create suffering when we attach to thoughts that are untrue. Question your thoughts and you will discover your freedom every time. Here is a video from Byron Katie that will teach you how to fill out a “Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet”–I think you will find a lot of richness from going through this exercise.
Much love to you!
:)Melissa A.K.A The JoyDiva
©2012 Melissa Simonson