A Two Step Process for How to Let Go of Judgment

let go of judgment

Sneak preview of Wiley Owl and Sammy Seal from my upcoming children’s book on understanding and managing anxiety

How Do I Let Go of Judgment?  How Do I Teach My Child to Let Go of Judgment?

“Our thoughts create our feelings and our feelings create our actions”

Do you often think to yourself that somebody or a specific situation MADE you feel a certain way?

It’s very common that this is what we think, but when we take a closer look, we realize it’s actually our thoughts about a situation or a person that then create our feelings.

For example,  if you’ve been sitting in your car waiting in a long line up and suddenly someone cuts in front of you, you may think:

“That jerk!  How dare he/she cut in front of me!  Don’t they realize how long I’ve been waiting”

Now you feel:  Angry 

Now you take action by honking your horn, shaking your fist etc. etc.

On the other hand, imagine that you’re feeling relaxed…you’ve just come back from a yoga class and you’re not in a rush.  It’s the same situation – you’ve been sitting in your car waiting in a long line up and suddenly someone cuts in front of you, but this time you think:

“That person must be in a real rush.  Maybe they are dealing with some kind of emergency.”

Now you feel:  Compassionate

Now you take action by gesturing for them to go ahead and go in front of you.

This shows us the power of our thoughts!  In both scenarios, the situation was the same…only our thoughts changed which then changed our feelings and then changed our actions.

#1 Step to Let Go of Judgment

“Seek to Understand” ~ Stephen Covey

  • Try to UNDERSTAND what the other person might be going through and have EMPATHY.

We never really know what is going on behind the scenes in a person’s life….  We never know how far a simple act of kindness and non-judgment can go.

“We all smile in the same language.”

Who are we to judge?  Usually when we’re judging, it’s based on our own issues that are part of our “shadow side”, as famous psychologist Carl Jung called it.

When we judge our children for their behaviour, we have lost touch with our empathetic side.

“All Behaviour Is Communication” and this is our child’s way of acting out their message.

We need to “seek to understand” and have EMPATHY.

This takes the focus away from us and puts the focus on our child and how we can be their biggest support.

This quote by Thich Nhat Hanh sums it up completely:

Understanding is love’s other name.

If you don’t understand, you can’t love.

#2 Step to Let Go of Judgment

  • OBSERVE your mind  versus listen to your thoughts

When we just NOTICE our thoughts and DESCRIBE (to ourselves) what we are thinking or feeling, we are able to create distance between ourselves and our thoughts.

An experiential exercise I do with the children and parents in my groups and live presentations is this:

Clap your hands together as hard as you can….twice!  Then hold the palms of your hands apart by just one centimetre.  I then ask, them to just OBSERVE  and say what you feel?

  • burning, stinging, heat, tingling etc.

I then ask if they notice that the feelings are starting to fade away…

I point out that we can handle these uncomfortable feelings.  We don’t react.  We don’t yell.  We don’t storm out of the room.  We just OBSERVE and DESCRIBE what we’re feeling.  As we do this, the feelings start to fade away.

The take-away message is that by observing our thoughts and feelings, we stay in the present, and keep enough distance from our thoughts and feelings that we don’t react.

When we judge, we are usually coming from a place of fear.  We predict that because of this situation, something negative is going to happen.

As soon as we start predicting a negative future, we feel anxious.

We are not fortune tellers.  Judging others doesn’t leave us with a good feeling.  We feel better when we are empathetic and compassionate.

The definition of being mindful according to world-renowned Mindfulness Teacher, Jon Kabat-Zinn is:

“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose,

in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” 

We don’t have to be meditating to practice mindfulness, although that is always highly recommended.

(See my two previous articles on How to Teach My Child to Meditate and How to Control Anger Using the Willing Hands Concept)

Practical Tips for Training Our Minds to Let Go of Judgment

When you’re stuck in traffic, standing at a bus stop or standing in a grocery line, practice OBSERVING.  Just DESCRIBE (to yourself) everything you see and feel without judging

Have you ever noticed that when someone else’s child is having a meltdown in public that it doesn’t feel as stressful as when your own child is having a meltdown in public?  (or for teens, being rude to their parents in public)

Next time this happens, practice EMPATHY.  “Seek to understand” and DESCRIBE (to yourself) the situation from a place of empathy.

Now for the most difficult step…next time you can feel a big reaction arising within you, try to catch it and just DESCRIBE it to yourself.

For example,  “I’m feeling really mad.  I’m really irritated.  I’m losing my patience.  I can feel my blood boiling.”

If you still feel that you’re going to react, tell the person you’re going to find somewhere to calm down, and as you walk away continue to describe to yourself what you are feeling and thinking, as though you are the observer of your mind.  Remind yourself that these emotions will dissipate without having to have a big reaction.

I hope you find these tips helpful.

Take-Action Tip for the summer hoidays: Practice increasing your ability to just OBSERVE and EMPATHIZE


let go of judgment

PS.  Registration is open for my August Brain Science Camps where children (ages 7-9yrs. and 10-12 yrs. learn about anxiety and anxiety management strategies.  For more information and to see the flyer click here and to register online click here and then click on “upcoming groups/events”.

PPS.  If you have a youth (ages 13-19 yrs.) who plays a musical instrument and/or sings at an intermediate-advanced level, I highly recommend The Blueridge Chamber Music Workshop which takes place in Vancouver for two weeks in August.  The faculty are exceptional and the youth love this intensive musical experience.  The deadline to apply is July 1st, 2017.

PPS. If you enjoyed this article on letting go of judgment, please share with your friends, family and on social media.  I really appreciate it.  Thank you!

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