There are times when life just feels like it is rubbing you raw, like a pair of ill-fitting, cheap shoes that you have no choice but to keep wearing because the alternative is blisters from the scorching pavement instead. Sometimes things are actually just a really crappy situation that warrants a small amount of grumbling or even outright grief and sadness, but other times it’s our judgment of a situation or occurrence that gets in the way – the should-ing and shouldn’t-ing, the must-erbating. With judgement comes ego, fear and self righteous anger, or imploding, devastating sadness and darkness, or even a combination, and that can get very ugly, very quickly.
I have found myself in situations recently that have resulted in me making myself miserable because of my judgment – or worse, the scathing self-loathing that comes as a result of gaining insight into my judgy thinking after I’ve either lashed out, or complained one too many times, and thought about it later and recognized how completely off the wall I was being. It can be at work, it can be at home. Our society seems completely obsessed with judginess, encouraging it at every turn, yet it only serves to escalate the judge-anger-fear cycle.
Lovingkindness (metta) practice in the Buddhist tradition, or prayers for/of forgiveness in the Christian tradition*, are soothing when we find we’re judging others or ourselves harshly, encouraging us to remember our common humanity and imperfections, and see things from a different perspective. They allow us to quell the heat of fear and anger, and say, “Oh, hello, Mara. I see you there. What are you trying to teach me today?”
One thing I have found particularly useful is sending myself emails with no content, but just simple reminder statements in the subject line, so that when I check my email, there are reminders scattered through to look at things from a different perspective, brainstorm 3 quick solutions to a problem I’m grumbling about (but not doing anything to fix), or consider whether I need to believe the stories my judgy brain is telling me.
So no formal practice for me today, but a reminder from The Universe that there are lessons to be learned from all sorts of unexpected places, and that loving kindness and acceptance of our common humanity is key.
*I don’t think there is a limitation on practicing either one or the other, no matter what tradition, if any, you follow.