Friday, November 6, 2009

. . . and I am that too . . .

This post was previously published back in June when I first started blogging.  I have reworked it slightly and am republishing it for those of you who may have missed it.

This is a simple, yet ever so effective thought to use to stop critical or judgmental thinking about others.

In case you cannot read the text on my art print, it says: "When you notice yourself judging another, take a moment to contemplate the following phrase: . . . . . and I am that too . . ."

If you are like me (when you first try out this "technique") your first reaction might be "I am NOT that too!" But if you think a while and are flexible with your thinking you will invariably find a way to see that you have behaviors that are similar to those you judge.

Then the exciting challenge is to reclaim your projection and work in the only realm where you have any real power - on yourself.

Judgments used to be an almost default defensive position for me. Using this simple, gentle phrase with myself has helped me to be less critical and to finally understand that the person I judged the most was myself. I could not deal with that, so I projected my judgments on those around me. What an unskillful way to live! I knew there had to be a better way, and this tender Buddhist thought has become a treasured tool.

Oh, not to be forgotten, this technique also works in reverse for the fine qualities in ourselves that we deny! E.g. Think of someone you really admire and name the qualities you most admire . . . . . then say to yourself, "And I Am That Too . . . . ".  This can help you reclaim qualities and talents you have, that you have not developed or are not owning. Let me know if you try it and how it works for you.


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  2. Interesting Bonnie. It reminded me of an old autograph album I have which belonged to an aunt, long dead. Apparently such albums were very fashionable in the 1930's - one asked all one's friends to write something. One of my aunts friends wrote:
    When faults in others you've to find,
    Take care to shun.
    If you look at home
    there's enough to be done! Your quotation is on a similar theme I think.

  3. Hi Bonnie! Definitely food for thought! Who isn't guilty of judging? and to turn it around calms the criticism. And to see in oneself what one praises in others is a gift. Thanks!

  4. My judgmental faculties are well-developed; I admit it to my shame. I am getting better, though. Your little phrase will help me along the way.

  5. Ah, yes, I've heard this one before, and have actually reminded myself of it this week. Very humbling and useful.

    And here's a twist. I also read about appreciating our strong points. If we make a list of attributes we like or admire in others, we can assume we also possess some of those traits. I like that, too.

    Thanks for your post, Bonnie.

  6. Weaver: Isn't that the truth! "if you look at home there is enough to be done" - thanks for sharing that with us.

  7. Margaret: You are welcome. Thank you for taking your time to comment.

  8. Friko: Well, I always say - sometimes we hang our projections (judgments) where they fit! However, it is the ego that does the judging, and we forget that we are so much more than our little ego.

  9. sallymandy: Yes, I mention that in the last paragraph - to reverse the technique to pull back the good qualities we deny in ourselves and project on to others.

    You're back! How are you? Hope all is going well for you.

  10. Great posting, Bonnie. I too have found myself to be judgemental in the past, sometimes presently as well, but I have gathered from enough experience that as you say, Yes, I am that too. To an extent. Even the most terrible or seemingly dumb thing that I see someone else do, I am a bit more foregiving because we all have certain disadvantages some of which may unfortunately wind us up in a bad situation.
    It is even so with art and creativity. I sometimes would walk into a gallery and see something that i thought was just terrible and think that it was awful. I don't allow myself to feel that way any more. I can acknowledge technical expertise or lack of, and presentation/execution but I never say something is "crap" anymore. It is one artists go at something and all of my own work can just as easily be "crap" in someone elses eyes.
    I think what I found was that when I was criticizing or being judgemental, it was really a form of insecurity and a way to step above another in my minds "ladder to the top"
    It is not so. Humility is a very under rated quality that I appreciate very much in others.
    Bonnie, I like your post in the Artists Lounge and commented on it. I do hope you drop back in and post some of your fantastic art.
    soon again

  11. Gary, Thank you for your insightful comments. It is so true, that everyone is making their contribution from their experience and judgmental thoughts or comments are not helpful. We can all benefit from constructive criticism however, - and hopefully can be big enough to receive it.

    I will go back to 'The Artists Lounge', and see if I can make some contribution to the exchanges on creative inspiration happening there.

    I visited your website this morning. It was very inspiring to enjoy a cross-section of your work. Your work projects a quiet, elegant, confident purity that I aspire to. I think that level of portrayal of meaning in seemingly sparse images requires much talent and experience. I hope those of you who read this will check out Gary Heller's website too.

  12. I try not to be judgmental. there is so much about what we see in others that we know nothing about. Still it's a reflex, something that we all do without thinking. I like the phrase and will keep it in my mind.

  13. We do tend to judge until we 'see' or 'feel' that we too are also these things. I always try to look at a person; their right & wrongs (or what we perceive as such), and look at them through the eyes that spirit would. I see them as a soul; living a human existence and simply learning and evolving as they go.

  14. Sigh. (of a sort of bliss) I'm just enjoying clicking on your older posts today, Bonnie. This one jumped off the page at me, but why today??? Never mind, it's very useful. I have been trying to let go of my critical self for most of my adult life, ever since my mother put her finger on that aspect of my personality (which she was too!!) I've learned to keep a lid on it and I try to stay neutral, just not reacting but it seeps out in a look or body language. This is an excellent tip and reminder for me. I'm glad you keep those posts on the side - don't delete them!!!


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