It is our nature to judge ourselves and others. We each have an inner voice that accompanies us and tells us when things are not “right”. When we are contracted or closed, we can be harsh in judging ourselves, others and situations. Sometimes we call this judge our “inner critic” or saboteur. If you are like me, you may have many forms of this inner critic.
We can recognize our judge when we hear that we or someone or something “should” be different. We sense in our bodies that we are “right” and others “should” agree. In addition to the berating inner voice, we usually have a predominant physical sensation that can be stronger depending on the issue. For example, I notice tension in my back, as if someone is pushing me or a tightness in my stomach and a feeling of pressure.
We can use these signals to alert us that we are closed or judging. If we can shift to a more open stance we can be less harsh and more curious or discerning.
For example, say you feel you did not do well on a presentation you gave. You could notice your judging part saying things like, “You are a failure! You are not a good speaker; you never have been and never will be. Others are so much better.” You may notice your signal and contraction. Your amygdala part of the brain is activated. If you can shift to a more open stance, you could more calmly assess the situation, learn from it, and determine your next steps. From an open state, you could see that you would have benefitted by allowing more time for preparation, practicing and getting support with the technology. You could learn from this experience and you may even choose to hire a coach or take a course to improve your skills.
Discerning comes from an open and growth mindset. You recognize that we all can learn and develop. You are more centered, open and compassionate. A discerning parent helps a child learn and recognizes that developing knowledge and skills takes time and ongoing improvement. There is empathy and support appreciating the intrinsic goodness of the child.
We can practice shifting into an open stance so we can be more discerning, support development and value our intrinsic nature and that of others. We can learn to build the muscle of shifting to enjoy an open stance and continual growth.