Judgement is our Quicksand
Again and again I am reminded how judgement keeps us stuck, it is the ultimate quicksand. Our minds are powerful machines and part of our survival is our ability to assess and observe patterns. We seek patterns that can help us prevent failure, catastrophe, and pain. Pattern seeking is hardwired into our DNA and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. The stumbling block comes when we add a judgement of better or worse over our pattern observation. We weave stories around our observations that have such power, they begin to CREATE the outcomes we now predict. Here's an example from my own life. I have this pattern of stuffing my feelings and walking away, rather than having hard conversations. The pattern of avoidance is built on experiences from the past, times when speaking my feelings was met with gaslighting or worse, rejection. The story that wove around the pattern was that I was not brave, I was unworthy, my feelings were always wrong. The judgement led to insecurities and doubt. The pattern persisted and was reinforced by results because that's how the world works, it's a perfect mirror for your beliefs. I believed my feelings were wrong, so I avoided speaking my truth and my relationships in business and personal life were messy as soon as we hit difficult topics because I would walk away or avoid them at all costs. My horse Nasim taught me a new way. I judged him as anxious and fearful because he behaved that way much of the time. The more I labeled him, the more he proved me right. Then one day, I made a very conscious decision to be brave. I had no idea what an impact that decision would have on my life. The next session with Nasim, when he acted out as fearful, I planted my feet, squared my shoulders to him, and breathed. I leaned into the uncomfortable feelings that arose in me and returned to inner calm. I embodied bravery. At first, he kept being emotionally intense. But, within 30 seconds of him experiencing the change in me, he changed too. He snorted tension out his breath, he lowered his head, he returned to a calm state of mind. I was in awe. My perfect mirror showed me how brave he really can be. In the weeks since then, I practice bravery every day. I release the story that I am insecure and he is an anxious horse. This allows us both to have our feelings and let them pass through us, without getting stuck to us like glue or sinking into them like quicksand. This shift has meant we are finally making progress as partners. We can work on more technical riding activities and enjoy our time together. Choosing to be brave is changing all my relationships. To make that choice, I had to release self judgement, I had to make room to choose who I am going to be. That choice isn't available when we judge ourselves. So the first step is to forgive and love ourselves or the other who we judge. That love will release us from the quicksand and allow us the solid ground to choose who we are to be and how we are to respond to the other before us.