It's easy to see where others miss the mark. It's easy to draw the connection between others’ behaviors and the outcomes they experience. But easy doesn't take us anywhere. Easy doesn't help us step into our best selves in order to create our optimal lives.
What's not easy but does help us step into our best and least-judgmental selves? Playing the game: How Am I That?
As I mentioned above, it's easy to judge others and see where they may be missing the mark. It's much more difficult to evaluate our own shortcomings and consider how we can work to improve aspects of our own lives.
I think it's worth reminding ourselves of a few things before we get started:
- Judging others is unhelpful
- Self-reflection is difficult and insightful
- We could spend ten lifetimes working on ourselves, why would we waste any time judging others?
Certainly you've experienced judging another person. Maybe you started eating better lately, and you go out to dinner with friends. Your friend orders a deep-dish pizza with a dessert to follow. Your friend had just shared with you that they gained some weight but weren’t sure why. They want to get back to their previous weight but then decide to order that? I begin to feel myself judging my friend. Oh, you’re confused on how you gained the weight? This is how you get back on track?
But here's the thing: our own diet isn't perfect, and we know it. We know the times where WE ate like that, or where WE eat less optimally than we'd like to. Yet here we are judging this person?
Our outward judgement comes from the gap we see in ourselves. If we were fully proud of our own eating habits, we wouldn't waste time judging the habits of others.
If you're not perfect and you've judged others (we all have!), you're ready to play.
How-To Play: How Am I That?
- Notice when you're judging someone else.
- Take a deep breath and really feel your breath through the entire inhale and exhale.
- Now with your focus back on you, ask yourself, "How Am I That? In what way do you exhibit some aspect of the behavior you’re judging? In what way do you do the very thing you’re admonishing?
- As you consider how you're that, be kind to yourself. There's no benefit to shaming yourself or prior behaviors. Simply take note of and be interested in how you're that.
- Send compassion and love to the person you were previously judging and to yourself. You know how hard it can be to do X, Y, and Z on a consistent basis.
And remember, like life, this is a game. If you were reminded of some way in which you're that, have fun doing things differently at your next opportunity.
Here's what the game might look like in action:
- I judge someone for the unhealthy meal and dessert they're eating.
- I notice that I judged someone else and use this awareness as a trigger to take a breath.
- Now with the focus back on my body and self, I consider, "How am I that?" I then remember the previous Friday night where I ate a LOT of pizza with a brownie to follow.
- I find it interesting that I was ready to judge others when I had exhibited a very similar behavior only a week ago.
- I send love and compassion to the person I judged. I send love and compassion to myself. It's not easy to always eat in the most healthy way possible.
After beaming love I might spend some more time and energy asking myself how I can improve. Why did I eat pizza and a brownie if I said I was committed to eating well? Did I get a poor night's sleep that affected my late-night willpower? Did I choose not to eat at home and thus I had to eat at a party where I had no control over the food?
The next time it looks like I may exhibit a similar eating pattern I look forward to seeing how I can play it differently.
And the next time I begin to judge others I look forward to playing the game: How Am I That?
I invite you to join me.