What would be possible if you released the urge to judge and criticize yourself and others?

What would be possible if you released the urge to judge and criticize yourself and others?

—Calm App Reflection

Image from Unsplash by Markus Winkler

How often do you catch yourself judging and being critical of yourself and others?

When you do notice, what is this inner voice saying?

How much trouble would you be in if these inner thoughts were vocalized and put on an external speaker? What if these criticisms were sent in a text or email and there was no way to take them back?

Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to keep some of these messages from being delivered even when we remain silent.

Facial expressions and body language clues give us away, resulting in others judging us in turn.

EXERCISE:

How would greater openness, kindness, and assuming positive intentions from others improve your world?

What would it look like if everyone made the same effort?

How can and will you take the lead in this area, starting today?

Pause when provoked.

Pause when provoked.

—Calm App Reflection

Image from Unsplash by Brett Jordan

What would be possible if you resisted the urge to judge and criticize others?

Where could an intentional pause allow you to pivot in a better direction when you are hooked by what others say and do?

Unfortunately, the time between stimulus and response seems to keep getting shorter and shorter.

Our urgent need to get things done, multitask, and speed though the unsavory parts of our lives often has us shoot before we aim.

EXERCISE:

Who are the people in your life that push your buttons and provoke you?

What are some frequent topics or events that trigger heated emotions and upsets?

What approaches can you take to mindfully pause before your amygdala is hijacked?

Contemplation often makes life miserable

“Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live.”

Nicolas Chamfort, 16th Century French writer

Image from Unsplash by Lucas Vasquez

Ed Kotch was the mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989. In his efforts to be a good mayor and serve the city well, he would often ask How am I doing? to gain feedback and enhance his efforts.

How often do you evaluate your own efforts and contemplate how you are doing? Where are you judging yourself and making comparisons to others to see how you stack up? Where is this habit causing you misery?

EXERCISE:

How would taking yourself out from under your microscope of judgement free you up to simply act more and think less about your life?

How would assuming that you are doing just fine at being who you are help you be far happier and satisfied with your life?

What stories are you spreading?  Catch yourself before you release

“What stories are you spreading?  Catch yourself before you release all the feathers in your gossip pillows.”

Image from Unsplash by pedro via

Almost everyone enjoys a good story. Whether truth or fiction, we can’t seem to pull ourselves away from all the juicy details. Perhaps most stories seem more engaging because they involve others compared to the humdrum lives we seem to lead.

We can all be judgmental and critical of others from time to time. This fact, along with the desire to be in the know, often has us participate in throwing a few gossip pillows. What feels like harmless banter in the moment often lets many harmful feathers fly that can never be retrieved once they are out.

EXERCISE:

To what degree are you a story spreader?

Where in your life have you seen and perhaps participated in letting some feathers fly?

How can you stop yourself and investigate such situations in the future to prevent a mess that could result?

“Nothing burns like the cold.”

“Nothing burns like the cold.”

—George R.R. Martin, Author of Game of Thrones

Image from Unsplash by Frank Busch

Back in February, a wave of arctic air blew across Michigan. Not wanting to miss my daily walk, I bundled up and set forth to put in my 10,000+ steps.

During half of my walk, the wind was at my back and my steps felt easy and steady. Heading in the other direction, with the wind in my face, I noticed the considerable chill and the burn on my face, thighs, and fingers.

Where else do you experience cold in your worlds? Take some time to look at relationships — personal or professional — that are adversarial, in which you might be giving or getting the cold shoulder, or a frigid reception. Where do you notice the burn of anger, resentment, indifference, and judgment?

EXERCISE:

Consider engaging in a loving kindness meditation to warm up relationships in your personal and professional communities.

Sharing your experience of this exercise will be like adding another log to the fires of friendship. Please reply to this post with your own perspective.

“Negative thoughts are nails.”

“Negative thoughts are nails.”

—Jon Gordon, Author of The Carpenter

Image from Unsplash by travelergeek

Where do you stand on the negative to positive spectrum of thought? How do you view yourself when you listen closely to your inner voice?

Carpenters use nails all the time to fasten and hold things together. Adding an extra nail or two can make a structure even more rigid and solid. As someone who isn’t particularly handy, I often use nails to hang pictures on the wall as a way of hiding a blemish or mark.

How are you seeing the world and relating to the people in your personal and professional communities these days?

How do you judge others on this spectrum when you examine their words and actions?

EXERCISE:

Where do you see the negative thinking in your world keeping people stuck and rigid?

How would greater positivity and optimism offer greater possibilities to build a better future?

A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers

“A judge is a law student who marks his own examination papers.”

—H.L. Mencken, 20th Century American journalist and critic

Image of Judge Judy on the bench

Image from Flickr

Judging others is fundamental to being human. Consider this list of TV shows:

  • Judge Judy
  • The People’s Court
  • Divorce Court
  • Judge Mathis
  • Kid’s Court

This is just a handful of the dozens of court programs over the years. If you add to this list the hundreds of shows that involve the process of judging singers, dancers, and other forms of competitions, you’ll become tired of counting.

It seems that judging others through the interpretation of the law and perhaps by our own standards of right and wrong and good and bad is fundamental to being human.

EXERCISE:

Where are you currently Judge and Jury in your personal and professional life? What standards beyond your own beliefs, opinions, and experiences do you use to guide the decisions and verdicts you hand down to those in your communities?

Dogs bark at those they do not know

“Dogs bark at those they do not know.”

—Samuel Daniel, 17th Century English Poet

Image of a barking dog

Image from Flickr by Toshihiro Gamo

Can you imagine people barking like dogs at people they don’t know?

In many ways, we do just that, except our bark is often silent, much like a dog whistle is to we humans.

This inner bark is often our judgement, criticism, and prejudice, showing that we are rarely open or receptive to another’s point of view, perspectives, or beliefs.

Take a look at the communities within your personal and professional worlds. What, overall, is the cost of the silent and not so silent “barking”?

Peace and a sense of unified community is hard to find, even if all signs point to things being fine on the surface.

EXERCISE:

Where would acknowledging and working on your own judgmental and critical tendencies support your cooperative and collaborative nature with those you’ve barked at in the past?

Punishing others is punishing work

“Punishing others is punishing work.”

—John Heider, The Tao of Leadership

Image of a judge's gavel

Image from Flickr by slgckgc

How often do you play the role of judge or jury in your personal or professional life?

How often are you on the receiving end of judgement and criticism?

What are the benefits and costs of being right and making others wrong?

In the arenas of organizational leadership, criminal justice, and even the family unit itself, punishment is rarely effective in controlling behavior, and fear is a horrible teaching strategy. It is exhausting, and sucks the life out of everyone involved.

EXERCISE:

What alternative and empowering strategies might you use to produce the behaviors and attitudes that will benefit your world?

Your Judgement Will Be Surer

“Every now and then go away. For when you come back to your work your judgement will be surer.”

—Leonardo DaVinci

Image of Leonard DaVinci

Image from Playbuzz

Leonardo DaVinci was one of history’s best know inventors. Some of his most famous inventions include:

  • The Anemometer: An instrument to measure wind speed
  • The flying machine
  • The helicopter
  • The parachute
  • The armored car
  • The giant crossbow
  • A more accurate clock
  • The triple barrel cannon
  • The self-propelled cart
  • SCUBA gear
  • The revolving bridge

EXERCISE:

Given DaVinci’s prolific productivity, how would his coaching help you to step away, then come back, and see your work or your life differently?