I’m going to start this first post in my first blog (a post where I WILL explain what this blog is about) by writing about a couple of bad days I had last week — the week before my self-dubbed Year of Living Non-Judgmentally.
Twice within the last week, I felt bad about myself and judged many things about the way I am. I felt shame about what I call “hubris” (that is, the hope or belief that I matter to the world and to others). I also spent hours playing a mindless computer game (Peggle, for any fellow mindless computer game enthusiasts out there) as a way to self-soothe and to try to feel better. But that didn’t work. I just felt worse.
During these bad days, I seemed to be playing Peggle compulsively as a way to avoid doing some things that I Should Be Doing, including (1) working on the book that I had finally gathered enough hubris to start writing last August, (2) finding out more details about how to start, write, and share a blog, and (3) figuring out ways to celebrate A Big Birthday, coming up fast in February. But I didn’t want to work on any of these tasks. When I forced myself to think about them, I couldn’t come up with any ideas I liked.
The few ideas that occurred to me seemed inadequate. Problems, concerns, anxieties, and even possible disasters were foremost in my mind, like these: How am I going to make sense of all the disorganized stuff I’ve been writing for my book? How can I — who seems to know less about blogs than anybody else I know — learn enough to begin writing and sharing by January 1? How can I celebrate my birthday in ways that are meaningful and fun for me and also for the people in my life (that is, won’t insult, inconvenience, or otherwise bother them)?
And, this was the Big, Painful Thought that kept occurring to me: Who Did I think I Was — that a blog, book, or birthday of mine would be worthwhile or matter to others?
So I had a couple of bad days last week, in a typical, very familiar way. That is, I felt paralyzed, shameful, and negative about the past and the future. Also, I felt embarrassed and confused about how great I had been feeling during some recent good days, where I had felt confident, hopeful, pleased with the way things had been going where I work, grateful for the people in my life, and lucky and thankful for what I had.
Going through this series of “bad” days and “good” days over the last week has brought up, again, a lesson I keep learning these days. (The book I’m writing has the working title of “AFOG: Another F***ing Opportunity for Growth”, and this lesson is A Very Important F***ing Opportunity for Growth, apparently.)
And here is the lesson: When I am having a bad (hopeless, judgmental, depressed, whatever-you-want-to-call-it) day, I WILL come out the other side, AND I will have gifts (ideas, knowledge, wisdom, solutions) that I can use. (Among the gifts I got this past week were some things to write here, in this first post of my first blog.)
I forget this wonderful lesson — which I’ve encountered hundreds of times, it seems — EVERY TIME I’m having a bad day. I just can’t see that another side exists, when I’m immersed in the shame, judgment, and confusion of the bad times.
I’ve been working really hard lately trying to remember this lesson, as well other things that help. Indeed, another possible title for my book is “Doing More of What Helps and Less of What Doesn’t Helps” and that — in a nutshell — is one way I see the process of growing and healing, for myself and others.
So here it comes, folks. Why I’m Writing This Blog. It’s simply this: I’ve learned that Judgment Doesn’t Help, and Letting Go of Judgment Does Help.
What do I mean by judgment? Judgment is that oh-so-human way of thinking where we focus on what should be, rather than what is. It’s when we focus on outcomes rather than on process or journey. Since I’m human, I’m not going to stop judging this year (or ever). The Year of Living Non-Judgmentally is an ideal, an unreachable heaven of a goal, a wonderful reach that will exceed my grasp (I’m quoting Robert Browning, a poet I love).
The best I can do in the year ahead is to notice when I’m having judgmental thoughts and to gently let go of them. The more I let go of judgments or regrets about what’s happened in the past as well as judgments or anxieties about the future, the more I can be present to what’s going on RIGHT NOW (including the possible joy and beauty in this moment).
Now, I know this blog has taken a turn for the gloopy (my son and my bofyriend sometimes use that word about me), but, honestly, there’s no way to talk about letting go of judgment without sounding gloopy, schmaltzy, New-Age-y or (insert your own adjective here if you’re not crazy about this kind of stuff). Yes, there’s gloopiness ahead in future posts, but also — I hope — some humor, insight, and other ways to engage you, dear reader, as the year unfolds.
So I hope you can join me along the way, in My Year of Living Non-Judgmentally.