One of my 2016 goals is to read, read, read, anything and everything. I love fiction, but I also want to read more psychology & social work books, plus those soul-lifting, spiritually-awakening - okay, “self-help” – books.
I’m about halfway through Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly, a popular book (based off a popular TED Talk) about being vulnerable and building shame resilience, and I’ve been underlining like a mad woman. It really is a great book, very easy to read and sprinkled with entertaining anecdotes and a whole lotta wisdom.
Something really stood out to me in the chapter I read today. Brene writes,
“[R]esearch tells us that we judge people in areas where we’re vulnerable to shame, especially picking folks who are doing worse than we’re doing.”
The statement is quick and it’s simple, but it got me thinking. I would love to sit here and say that I have never spoken a negative word about anyone, but we’d both know that that’s a lie. Oh, I really, really wish it weren’t, and you better believe I’m trying to cut bad-talk from my life, but humans aren’t perfect (Right? Please? It’s not just me??).
So I tried to think about the times I remember that I have spoken badly about someone. What specifically did I judge?
Think about it. When you hear yourself talk bad about someone else, what are you judging specifically? From my experience, people tend to say negative statements that judge others most on their:
- Physical appearance
When you say something or think something negative about someone, take a moment to stop and notice what it is that you just judged. Then, take a moment to consider that particular area in your own life. According to that Daring Greatly quote up there, you might realize that you have some shame happening in that area of your own life.
Working with clients, I really emphasize the importance of being aware of what’s going on in our heads. Awareness doesn’t always bring solutions, but it does get you a step toward understanding. Once we understand, we can be gentler towards ourselves – and then, find solutions in an empathetic, self-compassionate way.
If you’re like me, you really, really hate it when you catch yourself thinking or saying something bad about someone. I’ve just found that it doesn’t do any good – it doesn’t make me feel better at all, just guiltier. But again, with the theme of being gentle to ourselves, I think we can take this quote and make it something positive.
So how about this:
Next time you say something or think something judgmental about someone else, take a moment to pause.
Do your best to ‘categorize’ your judgment (ie. Was your statement about another person’s relationship? Career? Looks?).
Reflect on that category of your own life. Are you satisfied with it? (Really. Are you?)
CHANGE or ACCEPT: either make a plan to take one small step toward increasing your life satisfaction in that category, OR take a deep breath and practice acceptance of your personal situation.
I like this strategy because it turns the negative action of gossiping or negative thinking and turns it into a positive step toward changing or accepting your life circumstances.
What do you think - can we turn our negative thinking into motivation and/or acceptance in 2016?
P.S. If you like reading and stalking what other people are reading (like I do), follow me on Goodreads!