We all have an internal security system that is designed to protect us from harm.
The reality is that in the process of doing that, it is also keeping us from something we all crave desperately. Love.
There is a security measure outside some important buildings that isn’t visible until a threat exists. When an unauthorized vehicle crosses a certain threshold near the building, it automatically triggers heavy barriers to rise from the ground via an electronic system. The barriers rise to protect the building from the oncoming “threat”.
This is basically what our ego is doing to protect us. We are the important building and the threat is anything that has the potential of hurting us. The ego is always on high alert for dangers and if anything ventures close to threatening our sense of worthiness, alarms go off and the system is tripped.
The security system the ego uses is our judgment.
When we are coming from a place of judgment, meaning right/wrong good/bad thinking, we are creating barriers between ourselves and other people.
The obvious threats are people who have qualities or do actions that don’t align with our values and who we want to be. If I judge someone else as cruel, critical, selfish, negative, judgmental, etc…, I am setting myself apart from them by assigning them undesirable characteristics I want to believe I don’t have. Look at me though. I’m not “bad” like that.
The less obvious threats are people who have qualities or do things that DO align with our values and who we want to be. If coming into contact with people like that causes us to conclude we are falling short, even they can become a threat. That can lead to judging ourselves as cruel, critical, selfish, negative, judgmental, etc… I am setting myself apart from others by assigning myself undesirable characteristics I believe other people don’t have. Look at me though. I’m not “good” like that.
Either way, the security system has been activated. When that happens, causing us to judge, the barriers automatically come up. A virtual cement wall arises between us and other people. Sadly, love cannot penetrate that wall. We are not simultaneously able to truly love others (or ourselves) and stand in judgment of them.
The sensitivity of your alarm system is an indication of two things: how badly you want to be loved and how afraid you are of not being loved. The more you judge is an indicator of how little love you are feeling. We do a lot less judging when we feel a lot of love in our lives.
Unfortunately, the passive step of waiting for the love to come so that we can judge less is totally backwards and not going to work. Oddly, that’s the one we so often pick. The active step of eliminating the judgment is what disengages the security system so that love can flow without barrier.
Judgment, like jealousy, is simply a mental action. Instead of thinking about it as something that just arises that we don’t have control of in the moment (like emotions), think about it as something that we DO control. And the good news is that we can change our actions. Maybe we are doing it unconsciously, but it is something we can pull into our conscious attention and work on. It’s just an undesirable habit we are participating in without thinking (like biting our nails).
The steps are simple but not easy.
- Make note of it when it is happening.
- Choose a different mental action. Replacement behaviors are WAY more affective in quitting something than the just-stop-doing-it method.
Why does our ego do this?
But before we get into the action steps, let’s focus our attention on the why. This is challenging work that requires some diligence. By having a clear reason for doing it, we are connected to something important to us to so that we can stay motivated when we are in the sticky moments.
The why here is the biggest why of our human existence. Our why is to be connected to love, to be loving and to be loved.
That’s it. There is no greater endeavor than to remove all of the obstacles we put in place keeping us from experiencing the love that we are capable of giving and the love we are worthy of receiving.
If you haven’t focused in on judgment before, step one can be surprisingly tough but gets easier over time the more you work with it (shoot, okay I’m biting my nails here, now what?).
After you notice yourself judging, you’ll move to step two. What will you do instead? What is the opposite of judgment? It is acceptance. So, we want to reinforce acceptance as the replacement habit of judgment.
Here are a couple of practices to consider.
- Just like me. Begin to accept both the other person and yourself by saying thinks like this… Just like me, that person has the capacity to be cruel. Just like me, that person has the capacity to be kind. Both having the capacity for something and acting in accordance with that capacity do not define who we are. This practice nods at that truth.
- Create a mantra or affirmation. Begin to acknowledge the driver that unites all human beings with a reminder statement. All people desire and deserve love. Each and every one of us is a bright spirit trying to love and be loved. Regardless of what we do and what qualities we exude in any moment, this is at our core. This practice nods at that truth.
This is ongoing work. Just like we are all united in our desire to be connected by love, we are also united in that we have egos and that our egos will always try to judge. That’s okay. We are human. I, like so many, have made the commitment to work towards disabling my security system so that I can be loved and love generously myself. Won’t you join me?