Wednesday
Aug152012

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged!

Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged … a simple quote that holds a lot of wisdom. In a nutshell, it sums up the vicious cycle to which most of us succumb when we are in conflict. Even those of us who think we are “bigger” than judgment usually fall prey to our thinking/evaluations when someone has “wronged” us. (Note: “wronged us” is an evaluation / thought.) The idea of separating our evaluation from observation is one of the most precious gifts I can offer to those wanting to have conflicts that connect rather than divide.

Take a second to think of a recent conflict. Is it possible to stop and watch what you are telling yourself or others about the other person in the conflict? I have yet to meet a human being (including myself) who doesn’t go into a whole bunch of thinking about the other person with whom they are in conflict.

For instance, a husband walks in the door at 8:00 pm and the wife is angry because (here’s the judgment) “He is always late. He doesn’t really care about me the way he cares about his work. He is so caught up in making money; he has lost sight of what is important. He’s clueless.” And on and on and on…. we tell ourselves these things. We share them with friends in search of consolation. We even speak them to the other person. Yet (here’s the kicker) NONE OF IT IS TRUE and yet we believe that our thoughts are real.

What Is Real?

To this I say, “Just the facts ma’am.” The more you can take what happened and see just the observation and then communicate about just the observation – the greater chance you have for connection.

In the example here, the observation is that the man came home at 8pm for the third time this week. (You can also express feelings and needs – but that is a different lesson. In this instance, the wife is sad and lonely and really wants to know she matters.) The fact is that the man came home at 8:00 for the third time this week; this is what is real – nothing more and nothing less. All the rest…"you are always late; you don’t care, etc.” is just thinking based off of past experiences.

The thinking is productive in only one way. I have found the evaluations to be helpful when I’m super angry, have a lot of energy around the situation and I just need to vent. It is productive to just get it out to myself out loud, in a journal, or with a friend who can listen with presence but not agreeing and adding fuel to the fire.

I haven’t seemed to be able to have a conflict, even after years of living and teaching Non Violent Communication, without first having some evaluations/judgments/blame about the other or the situation. Here is the important part and what is different from most people’s process. When I am in the blaming place, I realize it. I even can hear myself saying “You are in the evaluation stage of your conflict. Let it out… but it’s not real.” After giving myself some time and permission to have my thoughts, I will also say to myself – “It’s not real. What is real? What is the observation?”

Getting things down to pure observation is more difficult than it sounds. By observation, I’m talking about what you can see, hear, touch – what you take in by the five senses only.

Absolute words like: always, never, or seldom are typically not part of an observation. Toss adjectives and adverbs out the window as well. So, instead of “he is so selfish,” one would say exactly what he did or didn’t do to be labeled as selfish: He bought five shirts for himself and didn’t get me a gift on my birthday. Then we would also get in touch with what we feel as a result and what we need (in terms of Universal Human Needs. – Click Here for a list.

These are the things we want to communicate, when the time is right, with the other person – NOT all the stories / the thinking that goes on in our heads.

There is a lot to learn about communicating when in conflict so that you end feeling connected and complete. For now, I offer this simple tip. Just begin to notice all the things you tell yourself, all the stuff going on in your mind about the other person or the situation when you are triggered. See if you can stop long enough to tell yourself it isn’t real. See if you can get yourself to actually believe and understand that. Then, attempt to figure out the observation. Start with just that… and see the difference that occurs just by separating out the two. It’s hard work – but peace of mind and peaceful relationships are worth a little effort!

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