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  • Writer's pictureOutlaw Angel

Curiosity vs. Judgement

Infuriating activity to try

Here’s a challenging activity - bonus points if you play with a friend. See how long either of you can sit, stand, walk, or breathe without assigning judgement. We are trained from our earliest memories to make judgement calls, to assign everything a category. This makes terrific sense when it comes to safety. Understanding when an activity warrants an extra level of security or alternate path are great examples of appropriate times to use your judgement.

Crowd sourcing judgement

Have you ever been riding in a car when you noticed the driver tense up? When asked, they respond about the jerk riding their bumper. I usually chime in with a comment about how few people have an understanding of physics and have never been the first on the scene of a major automobile accident. Then the commentary swings to how people have come to rely on technology to keep them safe and how common sense has all but disappeared. Winding down, the focus turns to how special they must think they are that the law doesn’t apply to them and I’ll close with how their parents didn’t raise them with any amount of courtesy or patience. If I’m feeling particularly snarky, one last dig referring to their likely similar bedroom behavior.

Eight judgements and a sour mood

I’ll never be a fan of anyone a few feet off my rear bumper, but in under a minute, there are at least eight judgements spewed forth and a negative mindset has taken firm grasp of the journey. Not even the best playlist (or a rapid cycle episode!) can turn that mood around in a hurry. I don’t even need anyone else in the car - I have had this exact conversation with myself.

Barrier to the positive

Now I am in a foul mood. I don’t notice how the leaves are budding out or the cardinals flitting about collecting nesting material. The clouds can perform their skating routines across the sky but I won’t see it. The sun will be annoyingly bright instead of refreshingly energizing. I am trapped and it happened in less than a minute.

Ownership of the issue

I was in complete control of the same thing I am always in control of: the space between my ears, my mind, my thoughts. I didn’t have to dive into that negative space. I had a choice, several in fact. It was important to note where the other vehicle was located and I could have stopped my thought pattern there. I could have changed lanes, pulled over or simply continued on as I was before the bumper hemorrhoid showed up (see what I did there?).


I’m working on noticing when I am throwing a leg over that greased rail of negativity - it frequently starts with the simplest thought that could have stopped with the original observation. I could have noticed the proximity of the vehicle behind me and gone back to singing loudly, frequently monitoring the rear view and an audible thank you when the driver zips around me. If I’m having trouble leaving the situation alone, I can turn to curiosity. I could wonder why that person is in such a hurry - perhaps they are trying to get to a sick family member or are late after helping someone change a flat tire.

Life just IS

Whatever narrative I dream up, it really doesn’t matter. The bottom line is that so much of life just IS. I will never know why something happens. I do know that the quality of my days is vastly improved by letting go of that which I do not control and keeping tabs on that which is within my control: my mind. This little game is one way I keep that in check, I try to catch myself before I am swimming in a big ol’ pool of ick and negativity. This awareness game can also help me backtrack to the origin of a foul mood.

Play the game in reverse

Listen to the conversations around you, acknowledge when they are negative or full of judgement and walk away. If you can’t walk away, a great way to defuse the situation is to comment along the lines of, “That sounds like it really affected you”. My favorite, when I am feeling up to inviting continued conversation is, “Huh.” That will either go unnoticed and frees me from further interaction or I will hear, “What do you mean, ‘huh’?”. I can then ask something such as, “It sounds like you are angry - do you want to talk?” Under all negativity is some form of fear. In the car scenario above, I fear the loss of ability, both physical and financial.

Awareness leads to insight

Once I begin to become aware, I gain insight. It always amazes me how quickly my negative thoughts unravel to reveal a very clear fear that I can identify, acknowledge, bless and release. I am afraid to die. I know someday it will happen but that driver forced me to acknowledge that I don’t know when, where, or how and that frightens me. I can’t change any part of that except living better today, in this moment. I can live a more authentic life now so when death comes, I am less afraid.

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