Do you ever find yourself walking around, running an inner commentary on what other people are doing or what they look like?
“What does he think he looks like in those trousers?!”
“Didn’t she get time to do her make-up this morning?”
“Duh, you got that one wrong again!”
You might even find yourself using a humorous voice to say these things to yourself and perhaps chuckling as you do it. It seems pretty harmless, after all, we’re not actually saying it out loud so the other person can hear, are we?
And we all do it, don’t we?!
It’s a fact of life: most of us are walking round passing judgement and commenting on the world around us.
Even reading newspaper or magazine that’s judging celebrities, for example, is giving our unconscious mind the message that you have to look or behave in a certain way, in order to be accepted.
Whether it’s commenting on someone else’s clothes or the state of the cafe where we grab a coffee, we’re passing judgement and it’s usually not pretty…
It’s partly a cultural thing and partly a product of our upbringing that gives us this habit. Young children are taught to compare themselves at school – and quickly learn that this way of judging is ‘how life is’.
So what’s the problem with this underlying commentary of little judgements and criticisms?
Well, it’s something that goes on in our minds without us even realising it, so it’s going unfiltered into our unconscious mind.
The problem is that the unconscious mind doesn’t realise that you’re talking about someone else. All it picks up is the message – you’re not good enough.
If you’re spending your time going round looking for the bad in others, that’s what you’ll see. And even if you’re not consciously doing it, if you’re running this type of inner dialogue, the chances that you’re letting yourself get away with anything are zero. At some level, you’re probably beating yourself up big time.
You see, you’re training your brain, day by day, to look for what’s wrong and criticise it. So, you’ll be doing that to yourself, as well.
Your unconscious mind doesn’t pay attention to whether we’re talking about the person in the street or ourselves. It just pays attention to the emotions behind the message. And it sets your radar to spot the things you’re doing wrong, too.
Let’s test it out.
Think back to something you did recently where you made a mistake or felt guilty or embarrassed. Notice what kind of pictures come up in your head. Are they sunny and colourful or dark and grey? How about the soundtrack that’s running: is there any commentary? What is it saying? If you run around passing judgement on others the whole time, chances are you’re passing judgement on yourself too – even if you’re in denial about it.
The thing is, one of the essential parts of being happy is accepting yourself for who you are and loving yourself for the person you are today. That’s completely impossible if you’re constantly in judgement mode. So, to feel happy, you have to accept others for who they are, too. It doesn’t mean you suddenly have to like the way they are – just stop criticising or trying to change them.
If you want to play with this, just mentally decide to turn on your “judgement radar”. Every time you notice yourself making a comment about someone or something outside of yourself, stop yourself. Take a deep breath in and out. And move on.
It’s that simple.
It’s not even about “replacing” the thoughts. Simply let them go. Eventually they’ll stop coming and then think how good you’re going to feel!
That’s a new twist for me: Anything you think, whether about yourself or others, is training your brain on how it thinks on a consistent basis. The twist part is, what you are thinking of others, your brain interprets as thoughts about yourself.
But then, you take it one step further.
You put us at ease reminding that we all do this.
And what to do when that happens?
Just allow those judgmental thoughts to come and go gracefully rather than trying to prevent them from happening.
With your advice, I can see new “thought space” opening up for happier thoughts.
Asheville, NC, USA