Root Canal, anyone?
Below is an excerpt from a response to my blog about credos:
In the past, I always had trouble defining what I stood for, but in the past month, it’s really dawned on me.
I think that my credo relates to moving away from superficiality. I used to be that way and judge people by the way they looked and the clothes they wore. I used to make fun of people a lot as a teenager. I was probably one of the snottiest people on the planet.
However, as I’ve gotten a little older and more spiritual, I’ve outgrown that behavior. And I’ve come to find that I’m at my happiest when I don’t judge–when I just listen. I’ve found that many of the people I used to make fun of are actually wonderful people, just flawed on the surface. And I’ve also found that many of the people I used to go shopping with are totally miserable…
Her message reminded me of a certain time in my life and wanted to share it with you. I went to Beverly Hills High School, and I ran with a rather insular crowd – we were wild, fun and popular, but if I am truly transparent, at times we were a snarky, catty, and materialistic posse. As if High School wasn’t difficult enough of an environment, there we were stoking the flames. My teenage years were far from spiritual!
We were kids. We had no concept of anything beyond our five senses, or the consequences of words or judgments. Everything boiled down to instant gratification and reputation. I’m beyond grateful I came to understand, by senior year, that there is so much more after high school, and that this reality I was living in was very misguided.
Enter the ghost of Beverly Hills high school past…
Last year my very consistent and perfect dentist (well, at least for me) of 25 years retired. Anyone who knows me knows I hate going to the dentist. This was an uncomfortable process in and of itself, as he was all too familiar with all my quirks, which I had adopted in the dentist chair over the years. As if this transition wasn’t difficult enough, I also had to have a root canal. His replacement-dentist recommended I go see this endodontist. So, I went to see him. Begrudgingly.
On the day of my consultation, as I walked through the corridor leading to his office, I passed a room he was sitting in. He had a mask over his mouth, but I could hear his voice. I remember thinking that he sounded familiar, like someone I know who is overly social and enjoys the party scene on a nightly basis. I couldn’t be sure. I remember feeling uncomfortable. Honestly, is anyone comfortable at the dentist? He looked at me and said, “I know you. You’re Monica Moradian?”
I hadn’t been called by my maiden name in years, so I was a little thrown off. He removed his mask, told me his name and said, “We went to Beverly together, but you wouldn’t remember me.” I stared blankly at him, and smiled politely. He was right; I didn’t remember him, at first. He wasn’t in my high school group of friends. Then I had a memory flashback of a shy boy at his locker, looking up at my friends and me for some kind of recognition, and we ignored and dismissed him daily.
Flash-forward to an image of him standing over me with an electric drill hovering just inches away from my mouth, whirring and buzzing away, his eyes spinning red and white with a crooked look. My overactive imagination got the better of me, being well aware of karma I made a quick U-turn in the corridor, and instead of finding his office I found the nearest exist!
The Rav says, “Behavior is born of consciousness.” In high school, I was so critical of my imperfections and judgmental of myself and others. It made me think about how hurtful judgments are, because that’s how I behaved towards others and what my group of friends did – we judged people, relentlessly.
Kabbalists explain that where we place our consciousness dictates how we experience life.
In truth, we judge all the time. It takes a real consciousness and consistent effort to stop and alter this behavior. There is a difference between judgment and discernment, which is defined as keenness of insight. I found a quote by Glenda Green that eloquently describes their difference. “The practice of discernment is part of higher consciousness. Discernment is not just a step up from judgment. In life it is the opposite of judgment. Through judgment, a man reveals what he still needs to confront and learn. Through discernment, he reveals what he has mastered.”
Judgment inhibits our growth. When we can curtail the tendency to judge we become far more connected to our experiences, our emotions, our loved ones, our potential, and ultimately ourselves as human beings. When we understand how potentially damaging a judgment can be to the people around us, as well as ourselves, it makes it easier to resist the natural inclination to judge.
We are not made virtuous by recognizing the faults in others. We need to be aware that our consciousness guides us toward what we see.
Judgment only invites the energy of more judgment. So, in order to counteract this, we need to implement humility and mercy into our daily responses. The more mercy we practice, the more mercy and love we invite into our lives.
If we choose to see the positive, we awaken that in ourselves. We strengthen the positive over the negative and we redirect our energy and focus. We must remember that our negative inclination wants us to concentrate on darkness and negativity. When we’re standing in front of somebody or looking at him or her with judgment, it is our darkness pushing us to focus on the darkness in that person. When we do this we make the perfect union between our darkness and theirs. But if we see the good in another person, we awaken our Light and we connect with their Light. It’s a two-way street.
Everyone has good and bad – everybody – it’s our job to try to focus on the good, because finding the good in a person or situation invites that energy into our lives. I can look back with affection (and no judgment) at the girl I was, even though I barely recognize her. We all become who we are because of who we were (and through our spiritual work.)
When you catch yourself in a moment of judgment, stop and think about 3 positive aspects to replace that one negative thought. Own your judgment. Flip it. Take responsibility for your thoughts. The negativity we see in others is often a mirror of something we need to work on for ourselves.
Today, do 3 acts of sharing for the person you have the most judgment toward.
Share your experience in the comments section.