“Be a witness, not a judge.
Focus on yourself, not on others.
Listen to your heart, not to the crowd.”
My husband recently listened to Gabby Bernestein’s book, Judgement Detox, so naturally this has brought up a few conversations around this subject. It is definitely one that we can all relate to because we all judge and we all have been judged. The nature of the processing of our brain is to classify information and those classifications are made based on our experiences and the information we have stored in our brains. So, we could say that we are judging all the time.
To me it was incredibly important to understand this function of our brain so that I didn’t judge my judgments because, during the early years when I started tapping into spirituality and learning more about how judgement played a really important roll in this process of the expansion and consciousness of my spirit a really interesting thing started happening…my ego was showing up in new and more clever ways. One of the ways I started to notice this was by judging those who were judging, without realizing I was doing exactly the same thing only my ego thought it knew better just because I was judging from a new understanding of how a spiritual person “should” behave. Today I see how innocent and.. well pretentious this was. So, coming to an understanding that this processing is really how our brains have been programmed to work I could approach the “judging system” in a different way. This understanding allowed for acceptance and helping me make space for it.
To be a little more clear about what I think is the roll of our ego and the brain I want to first talk about what I think our ego is here to do. To me our ego is a tool, an invisible system that was created so that we can make sense of the different components that make up our individual personality. So, our ego’s job is to protect under any circumstances the components of this personality otherwise survival of the human wouldn’t be possible. So, I like to think about our “ego system” as a very primal programing that was created to help us understand our “components” in relation to the world around us so we could survive, and it’s such a primal system that it struggles with change and evolution because it operates under the impression that survival and safety are found in things that are familiar.
With that understanding I consider our ego to be the big umbrella from which more systems and tools branch out. One of them, being judgement. So, when our brain receives information from our senses whether that is sight, smell, hearing etc then one of those departments, and in this case we are talking about judgment, quickly filters that information and it presents it to the boss, aka ego, to make a final decision. The issue with this system is that when there is no supervision from our consciousness, our ego will fully run the show and it will spend most of its energy over explaining why it has made the decision that it made, or as we know it, it will spend hours talking shit about the external world just to proof that it is keeping us safe.
I like to think about Vienna, my dog, when I talk about the ego in this way because I truly believe that the intentions of this system are all pure. The nature of dogs is to be protective, Vienna will let me know if there is a mosquito too close to the house, meaning she will bark like there is no tomorrow when anything is getting too close to our house. When she does this she is clearly giving me a signal and at this point it is up to me to act on it. I could either start yelling at her to be quiet, I can completely ignore her or I could get up and see what is happening and make a choice on how to move forward.
And this is where awareness and consciousness come into play. We first must become aware of the existence of these systems, of the content we consume, of the experiences we’ve had so that we can understand how we personally relate to the world. In other words we have to get very close and understand our ego so we can easily identify our tendencies when they show up.
If I was to compare this to Vienna, I first need to allow space for her to interact with the environment so that I can observe and understand what she gets triggered with and when she feels unsafe, and I’ll call this awareness. If she feels unsafe and starts barking and I start yelling at her to be quite I’d never truly understand what is happening or what she is triggered with because my attention will only be placed on her and it would become chaotic between her barking and me yelling. And, well Vienna or our ego may actually want this attention, so we end up falling for their manipulation and now they are in control of the situation. This could also be interpreted as judging her judgement which again will only end up in a loud chaotic shit show. I could also completely ignore her but then again I wouldn’t know if she is truly letting me know about something I should pay attention to. So, quieting or “killing” the ego is really not a choice I would like to make.
Finally this leads me to my favorite way to handle the barking situation, which is observing what is happening, checking out the window and see if this is in fact a signal that I need to be prepared for or if I should just simply close the blinds because as is expected every day, the UPS truck will come.
I love this analogy because it allows space for the ego to do its job and at the same time it gives me a great understanding of how I play a part in this system and how I can use my curiosity to learn more about the context and content in which my ego can get triggered so that I become aware of any future tendencies and consciously make choices in which I’m not manipulated by the attention or allow chaos to take place.
I don’t want to hear Vienna barking all the time but I understand that it will happen from time to time, the UPS truck will come and when it does I will gladly and consciously close the blinds as a symbol of awareness and acceptance of what is inside and outside.
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