For those that have kept reading up until this point, I really appreciate you doing so! And I realize that, niceties around how my family handled our fallen Christmas tree aside, suggesting the adoption of a post-judgment mindset as I did in my last post might sound far-fetched. After all, how can a society without a moral compass of what is right and wrong even operate, let alone not just fall into total chaos?

With this in mind, I will explore here the main reasons I have come to believe that adopting a post-judgment is so powerful and effective. While I by no means aim to exhaustively explore this topic, I hope to at least to provide an introduction into some of the key ideas my intentional community focuses on around this topic.

Discarding what we don’t want

One of the most important reasons for adopting a ‘post-judgment’ mindset is that it can free people from the stranglehold of unwanted guilt and shame that being labeled in a negative way can experience. These feelings can be challenging to deal with, if not severely crippling. Ironically, rather than ‘correcting’ unwanted behaviour, this practice is often counterproductive by creating anxiety and other unwanted emotions in the one being labeled.

Because thinking clearly in a state of distress is so difficult, the application of such labels can give rise to more of the same behaviour that led to the labels being assigned in the first place. Furthermore, assigning negative labels to others wastes valuable resources that could be used to get at the root causes of why they are acting in the way that they are in the first place.

Taken to the extreme, the anger that comes with this labeling can give rise to hateful, divisive, if not long-lasting, grievances. This in turn wastes even time, because grievances prevent us from being able to work in relationship with others. This is a concern for us, given as I talked about in my previous post how working in with others is a critical part of how my community tries to bring about the change we seek. So important is getting beyond grievance that my intentional community had adopted the term ‘post-grievance mindset’.

The final letting go

While negative labels are dangerous, positive labels are as well. This is mainly because positive labels can cause us to elevate our self-image to such a height that almost inevitably we will experience fear and anxiety over some anticipated mishap or misfortune which could knock us down from our ‘pedestal’.

Of course, those being labeled still have the choice as to whether to accept them. They can decide to continue operating from a judgmental mindset and assume those labels apply to them, and thus set themselves up to experience all the possible accompanying unpleasant emotions that come with that. Or they can choose to operate from a post-judgmental mindset and decide to not see themselves in such a way.

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Wikimedia Commons/Mylius

While whether the one being labeled is able to do this is uncertain, one certainty exists: no one who embraces a judgmental mindset when assessing his/her sense of self-worth is safe, or at least safe for long. Those who operate from it find themselves like a pet hamster on an endless treadmill where they are constantly running from, or keeping at bay, failure. Escape is simply not possible!

Because adopting a judgmental mindset causes people to feel themselves being controlled by some authority external to themselves, whether tangible, such as in the form of a person like a teacher or police officer, or an abstract one, such as pre-determined views of morality and how society should operate, my intentional community refers to this mode of operating from coercive thinking. Or simply the coercive. Those who adopt a grievance mindset are also acting from the coercive, because they feel that they have the right, based on some similar authority, to hold a grievance against another.

The gift we can all give

As I talked about in my last post, we as a community seek instead to be accepting both our selves and others, in whatever state or situation that we find our selves and/or others to be in. Freed of guilt, shame and all the other unpleasant emotions that come with judgment, and the similar undesirable emotions that come with grievance, we are able to make clearer choices about how to act in ways that make deep sense. Which, to repeat what I also mentioned in my previous post, means acting in ways that have the impacts that we want, need, and value.

Having said this, withholding from judgment and grievance does NOT mean that we in my community believe we can do just do whatever we feel! Far from it! Doing what makes deep sense means that actually we seek to respond to situations with great care, in ways that bring to bear the full resources of our learning and training. What is more, as I’ve said earlier too, we often connect with others in our community to help us in doing this, because they can bring added knowledge, understanding and other resources to a situation.

Given that this approach helps people to work together better to achieve the impacts they want, we in my intentional community call this collaborative thinking. Or simply the collaborative. And I believe others in my intentional community who practice this mode of operating will also tell you that its freeing qualities for both themselves and others make it truly a gift! What is most wonderful about all this is how it is practice we can ALL undertake, and give freely to one other!

The long awaited revealing

As for how all of this relates to the events regarding the falling of my family’s Christmas tree, it is this. How we responded when our Christmas tree fell enabled us to manage our impacts on each other, and thus get us in the end what we deeply wanted, needed, and valued.

To achieve this, the focus was on not judging or developing a grievance against Liliana for what happened, and so not assigning labels on her such as ‘bad’. Instead we focused as a family on what impacts we wanted to have, dealing with the situation at hand by calmly cleaning up the mess and eventually putting the tree back up. Well, ok, Richard did most of the clean up job. AND we as a family worked together to create the container for this to happen more easily by holding space for ourselves to deal with the feelings that arose in the situation, Richard’s, Liliana’s and mine included.

Liliana was provided with natural consequences for what had occurred so to inspire her to ‘pitch in’ and learn how to help in this and future situations. This is as opposed judging her and providing a punishment, which as I talked about earlier, could have made her feel inadequate, or even worse, resentful or revengeful. That would have only led to later challenges down the road in working with her!

While we did share our feelings with her about what had happened, we did so in a way that would help her develop empathy and thus better equip her to manage her impacts in the future. In other words, our impacts would affect her future impacts!

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In short, together we were able to move to a place beyond judgment and grievance so that we could quickly put the situation, or at least the unpleasant parts of it, behind us. Consequently, minus the lack of a new tree stand immediately, (and even managing to get that eventually!), we were able to find our way to a real life happy ending. And that, I feel, is perhaps the greatest gift that my family too could give each other this Christmas!

I know, I know! I still haven’t got to the part about how all this relates to the environment. That is coming in my next post, so you won’t have to wait long now!

 

 

 

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