It’s so easy to judge ourselves, isn’t it? ‘Judge’ in the sense of putting ourselves down. We do something we think is wrong and we suffer regret. Or we wonder: am I a good person?
Is this self-judging a flaw in our character? Something conditioned by culture? Maybe, a way we hurt ourselves? Or something entirely different?
Maybe we’re judgmental of others. We might feel another person is too blind to see the truth. Or they’re trying to undermine us. Or that they think they’re “better” than us.
Or maybe we sometimes feel we’ve wasted time, or our lives. When it seems we’re wasting time, what’s wasting away? It’s wonderful we don’t want our lives to be meaningless. But maybe we know this yearning not to be meaningless because we thankfully know meaning; we know moments when we’ve done something that feels glorious, that make a difference.
Or we feel vulnerable. Being alive means we’re vulnerable. When we love, we’re vulnerable. But our vulnerability, although frightening, is a life-giving gift. Because we’re vulnerable we can learn; we can feel. We can act. Vulnerability can reveal our need for and our essential connection to others. It can reveal our sincere presence right here and now.
Sometimes, we get competitive with our ideas and turn a discussion into an argument we feel we must win. But what is it we think we lose if we don’t get the other person to accept our viewpoint? Underlying the passion of this competition is often a feeling we could be mistaken. The more insecure or wrong we feel, the more vigorously we might defend our position. When I was still teaching, I noticed the more experienced and comfortable I was in my profession, the more open I was to a diversity of ideas⎼ and more capable at helping students be themselves.
Or we see ourselves as “bad” because we so want to be “good.” Or, when we judge others, or ourselves, it could be because we feel, deep down, there’s something more to us; there’s such a wonderful possibility in us of living more deeply and kindly.
Recently, I became anxious about a medical procedure I needed to undergo. One doctor reminded me of a mindfulness teaching I thought I already knew: we often feel anxious because we know calm and want to live. This was a helpful reminder.
Right now, we’re all suffering from a divisive world, and from wars and other unbelievable horrors. But our understanding of how threatening divisiveness is to our survival is aided by knowing the need for cooperation and peace. We might know, somewhere inside us, a communion sits waiting beyond the calamity.
*To read the whole article, please go to The Good Men Project.