Tag Archives: Beliefs

Day 28: Taking the Struggle Out of Life – Letting Go of Judgment


One of the toughest things for me to do is to stop judging. For most of my life I’ve taken a lot of pride in what I like to call my “sense of discernment.” It’s like being a connoisseur of whatever I want to be. Mistaking my opinion for expertise.

By definition, an opinion is a judgment but it is a subjective judgment meaning a judgment without much supporting evidence.

When you write a scholarly paper, one of the steps you take is to do a survey of all the research done on the topic about which you’re writing. This is to make sure you take into account previous evidence other people have discovered.

This doesn’t mean opinions aren’t important or valid. I know my emotional responses are important and worthy of taking seriously.

The distinction is an opinion is subjective and usually the result of personal experiences and beliefs. Two people with different experiences and beliefs can see the exact same thing and form very different opinions about that thing.

The visual that comes to mind for me is throwing a rubber ball at a wall. One wall is relatively smooth while the other wall is full of protrusions and odd angles. I think beliefs and experiences are like those rough walls with all kinds of angles and protrusions and each person has a unique “wallscape.”

So how the ball returns to you will vary a lot depending on the wallscape against which you throw it. The way the ball returns is the opinion each person forms.

Judgment can be a delicious addiction. One of my favorite questions to be asked is “Judy, what do you think about …?”

Oh boy! My ego is is rubbing her hands together in glee. And I’ll happily hold forth on the topic. I’ll get indignant and self-righteous. I may not use the word “should” but that word is lurking right below the surface.

And not just when I’m talking about something I don’t like. It’s there when I’m holding forth on something I like because if I like it, everyone else ought to like it as well!

I don’t think having an opinion is a bad thing nor is offering advice and suggestions. One of the most beautiful things humans can do for one another is to offer solutions and advice because I believe we are designed to be interdependent on one another as a reminder that we are not billions of separate bickering little entities in the grand scheme.

The question is: what is the source of the advice or suggestion? Is it our ego which is the part of us primarily concerned with survival? Or is it the Divine working through us?

How do I know?

If my judgment is about making me better than someone else however subtle that may look, it’s ego. This is because my ego wants one thing and that is relief from fear. If I’m better, not just as good but better, there’s good chance I’ll keep, maybe even grow my power and stay in the tribe.

If my judgment is about love, coming from a place of plenty, it’s the Divine working through me. The Divine isn’t worried about my survival. Fear isn’t part of the Divine.

Here’s an example of a suggestion coming from a place of Divine Love. When asked about the conflict in the Middle East, the Dalai Llama said, “People are too emotional. They need to calm down.” I’m paraphrasing a little here but that, in essence is what he said.

Now, the Dalai Llama is not the first person who has said that people need to calm down. It wasn’t what the Dalai Llama said. It wasn’t even the way he said it. It was the place from which his words came.

It was interesting also that the Dalai Llama responded to the question quickly and directly. He didn’t take a minute to contemplate what and how he would answer.

I think this is partly because he probably does spend more time than most of us contemplating these issues but I think it’s also because he spends a good chunk of his day in prayer and meditation when he is open and aware of God. Making himself a clear channel for the expression of God’s Love.

So from my perspective, giving up judgment means not going through my life with my ego holding forth on why I’m so much better and everything and everyone else is so much worse. It means:

  • Noticing when I’m in judgment.
  • Not participating when other people are.
  • Forgiving myself.
  • Opening up to Divine Love (which is what I really want to begin with).
  • Repeat as necessary.



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Filed under Getting Out of My Own Way, Mindfulness

Day 27: Taking the Struggle Out of Life – The High Price of Avoidance

As I contemplate my circumstances, it’s clear that I’m here because I’ve been avoiding stuff.

I feel I’ve addressed the issue of avoidance before but I have a deeper awareness now of what I’ve been avoiding and why it’s important to stop avoiding.

What have I been avoiding? Reality. The reality? People in small business do things and I take those things to mean I don’t have value. It’s all about my ego. No actually, it’s all about focusing on my ego’s reaction which is valid but not that important.

It’s about my decision to give my ego’s response and interpretation meaning and allow that meaning to guide my decisions and actions.

At this point, I’m considering the following actions and haven’t yet tipped in favor on any one in particular:

Look at technical projects that sound interesting and that I’m qualified to work on. This action supports finding contract consulting work.

Talk with people about their marketing and messaging challenges. This action supports creating a business.

Doing some exercises to help me better articulate what exactly I’m looking for which would actually support both since if I can better articulate what I’m wanting, I’m open to different ways to having those things.

OK, based on the above, adding some words to articulate what I’m interested in sounds like the way to go.

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Day 23: Taking the Struggle Out of Life – Unconditional Happiness

Yesterday I was listening to the Marianne Williamson’s Letting Go and Becoming and in particular, the part about how many of us make our happiness contingent on getting something we believe we lack.

That something can be just about anything: a relationship, a better job, a promotion. Or it could be about getting rid of something we believe is making our lives miserable: an impossible boss, taxes (especially this time of the year), an extra 20 pounds, etc.

As I was listening, it occurred to me that so often I’ll look back on a particular time in my life and think, “Wow, I had a lot to be happy about.” But during the time period I’m thinking of, I wasn’t very happy at all.

For example, I took two years off to get my MBA. I look back at this time now as one of the best in my life. But during those two years I would say I was rarely joyous.  I definitely had fun and had enjoyable moments, but I was always worried about my future and that had a big dampening effect on my happiness.

There are a variety of reasons people get advanced degrees like MBAs: a big one is the ability to earn more money. I worked in advertising: a field that doesn’t pay well especially at the lower levels. I wanted to be able to make enough to live on my own. Another big reason was to get a more satisfying job with advancement opportunities. As someone in the marketing profession, most large companies required an MBA to qualify for positions in brand management. I wanted better options.

So during the two years I was an MBA student, I constantly worried about getting a job after I graduated. I think getting a job probably occupied my thoughts at least 75% of the time. The classes I took, the part time jobs I had…even the people I hung out with to some degree was contingent on “Will this help me get a job off?”

The point is, because I was so focused on a future event, I didn’t enjoy the present much. As an example, I attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and Ann Arbor is a beautiful town. The campus itself is really cool and there are a lot of neighborhoods with old homes surrounded by large shade trees and gardens. I would often take long walks and even though part of me was enjoying the sights, in the back of my mind there was still that endless question beating away, “Will I get a job offer?”

If I wasn’t worrying about whether I’d get a job offer I was fantasizing about how it would be when I did get my job offer: the clothes I’d buy, where I’d live, the boyfriend I’d have, the cool things I’d accomplish, and the accolades I’d get.

I was in my head not in my life.

So this made me think, “What if the time I’m living in, right now, is a time I’ll look back at fondly and I’m not allowing myself to fully experience it because I’m so pre-occupied with getting what I don’t have?”

That’s a good question to ask because it gets me out of my head and reminds me to appreciate the present moment more no matter what is happening. Appreciating means slowing down. Taking a moment to notice how things look, smell, and taste. Noticing my emotions, good and bad.

Some good questions and ideas to be with today.

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Filed under Choosing Joy, Getting Out of My Own Way, Mindfulness

Day 21: Taking the Struggle Out of Life – Today is a Gift


One of the things I wrote about yesterday was how I can find all kinds of ways to lapse into unconsciousness.

After I stopped shopping online, I discovered I could also lose huge chunks of time by trying to create the perfect image to represent an idea I wanted to write about.

I love the trading card design I created for the post about Lack or Love AND I spent most of the day making it. I love the image I created. It’s really cool. I’m going to use it as a template for one of my projects. Still, I feel as though I spent a fair amount of time being pretty obsessive-compulsive.

I think there’s a middle ground.

The image created for this post took me about 15 minutes using Photoshop. It’s my “good enough” image so I really can have more time today to experience the gift today is.

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Filed under Getting Out of My Own Way, Mindfulness, Perfectionsim

Day 20: Taking the Struggle Out of Life – Hitting the Wall & Finding Love


I started today by reading a selection from Rami Shapiro’s book, Recovery: the Sacred Art. This is one of my favorite books for spiritual practice because it captures a lot of what I’ve found to be true in a very simple way.

I also appreciate the gentle humor Rami uses. Addiction recovery and spiritual ideas can get really intense and serious and the humor in this book makes it easier to enter my day. Sometimes after an intense reading I feel like I’m emerging from a cave making it harder to step into the stream of everyday life.

Today I was reading about how events that feel like rude awakenings have been the most direct paths to getting what I wanted.

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Day 18: Taking the Struggle Out of Life – Love or Lack?


As I continue to define the kind of business I want to have and my purpose for having a business, the tool I’m finding most helpful is to ask myself periodically, am I doing this from a place of Love or a place of Lack?

I created this card as a prompt to keep asking this question because it’s so important.

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Day 16: Taking the Struggle Out of Life – A Better Way to Get Attention

Indian Elephant

There’s a scene in the television show, Breaking Bad, where the character, Jessie is talking with his younger brother, Jake. Jessie was always the “bad kid”–not applying himself in school, doing drugs, and hanging out with a bad crowd. Eventually his parents do “tough love” and kick Jessie out.

Jake on the other hand is the the “good kid”–he’s only 12 but is already recognized as a star by his parents and teachers. In fact, one of the main reasons, Jessie was kicked out was to protect Jake from Jessie’s bad influence.

In the scene, Jessie is telling Jake to stay clean because he’s going to make something of his life (unlike Jessie). It’s like the only kid their parents see is Jake. Jessie might as well be invisible.

“Are you kidding?” Jake says, “All mom and dad ever talk about is you.”

Everyone wants attention and recognition. Kids want to be recognized by their parents for their unique talents and achievements. As adults we want to be noticed and recognized by people we respect; our bosses, clients, friends, and family.

Although we’re always told the way to get that attention and recognition is to be exceptionally accomplished, in practice, the people who get the most attention are the “bad kids.”

I was a troublemaker in my family and it got me attention but it didn’t get me what I really wanted. That’s what what I’m writing about here.

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Day 13: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

Letting Go of Perfectionism Through Forgiving

I’ve been reading the book, Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping and am finding it illuminating and inspiring given what I’m discovering about myself.

In my experience, when I do something that causes problems, the behavior and the pain tend to be symptoms of an underlying issue.

It’s tempting to focus on the symptoms as the superficial cause. When I do this, it sounds like “If this situation were different, I’d be happy.”

Meaning if I could change the external condition, everything would be fine.

Sometimes the external situations DO change and I think that creates the illusion that this is the way to go.

But the truth is I don’t have much power over anything outside of myself. In fact, usually, when a situation changes, it’s a reflection of an internal shift I’ve made.

The big enchilada shift for me has to do with the story I carry that I use to explain why I’m getting what I want. My story is “I won’t get chosen because I’m not good enough.” In life this has translated to “if it’s between me and another person (or my idea and someone else’s idea, etc) I won’t get chosen because the other person is (smarter, more outgoing, more talented, more confident, etc).

I assumed if I could just somehow get myself to believe I was enough things would shift.

The obstacle I keep running into is that belief has been reinforced and reinforced over many years and wanting to change the belief hasn’t been enough.

One thing I’ve resisted is forgiving people who I feel are responsible for my having this belief to begin with.

Not just my parents…there are lots of people in my past; some minor characters and some major characters who I feel did not do right by me.

I’ve resisted forgiveness because I’ve always felt:

  1. Forgiveness is one of the few powers I had as a victim. I could choose to forgive or to withhold my forgiveness. If I withheld my forgiveness I retained this power.
  2. It infuriates me to “let those people off the hook.” This is especially true where I believe someone has no remorse or regret for the pain they caused. It nettles me to no end. In my opinion they don’t deserve to be forgiven to begin with.
  3. It seems to me that the only people who truly deserve my forgiveness are those who apologize  and express sincere regret for their actions.

My resistance comes from the idea that forgiveness is a gift given to the person responsible for the wrongdoing and why on earth should I give such a gift to anyone who hasn’t earned it?

The problem I’ve discovered with this idea is of all the people who didn’t do right by me, the person who has hurt me most is me. So I have a lot of self-forgiveness to do and I now realize that it’s hard to feel worthy if I have all kinds of resentments and anger directed at myself. Self-compassion is going to be all but impossible.

Based on the recommendation of my coach, I started reading Radical Forgiveness and it’s been a fascinating.

The idea of Radical Forgiveness is that until we can begin forgiving those we feel have hurt us, we’ll just continue bumbling into situations that give us opportunities to re-experience those core injuries. The author, Colin Tipping offers a process to forgive in a way that allows for completion and healing. And once you forgive in this way, your emotional wiring shifts and the dynamics shift.

What I like about this approach is that it repositions forgiveness as a gift in which I am the primary beneficiary. And it feels like a more concrete way to shift these beliefs a more substantive, effective way than some of the other processes I’ve tried.

I haven’t yet done what I would consider a “complete” process of forgiving but I feel hopeful that this will help me have some relief from some of the beliefs I’ve been carrying that feel very heavy and hard to heal.


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Day 11: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

What Would Epic A Do?

As I’ve been contemplating perfectionism I’ve been asking myself, what does it look like to be unconditionally lovable?

It’s hard for me to get there myself. I mean it’s hard for me to imagine myself as unconditionally lovable. Perfectionism is a hard habit to break. Every time I think about not doing something as well as possible a lot of resistance comes up.

So I’m using my cat, Gus, (A.K.A. Epic A) because I find it very easy to love Gus unconditionally.

We adopted Gus from a when he was barely 8-weeks old. He had the feline herpes virus which is very contagious and he had been separated from his litter mates and other animals.

Even when he was little Gus just got along well with people. He’s the kind of cat that greets you at the door and he always checks out visitors. My theory is that Gus was socialized at such a young age (he was barely weaned) he considers himself human or he considers us to be strange-looking cats.

Besides being very handsome, Gus has a very endearing “catsonality.” He seems to live his life assuming that everyone will love him and his needs will always be taken care of. Unlike most cats that meow and look worried when their bowl is empty, Gus purrs loudly and gives me friendly head butts until I figure out what he wants.

I nicknamed Gus “Epic A” for “Epic Adorableness” because he’s so naturally lovable. My teenage son cringes when I use this name because the word “epic” is so overused and because things the nickname “epic A” is just completely over the top in a nauseating way.

But I can’t help myself.

What’s important here is this: Gus does nothing useful in our home. Like most cats, he’s basically ornamental. But his lovability makes him incalculably precious to me. When I’m out of town, I miss him. When I return I can’t wait to get in the door to give him a cuddle and say hello.

In the scheme of things, my husband and son are way more important to me. There’s really no comparison. However, Gus is important because he’s the best example I can think of when I try to imagine what it would be like to be perfectly imperfect and yet be very easy to love.

When I described how I feel about Gus to a friend, she commented, “That’s how the Divine feels about you.”

This is a very beautiful idea and one I’d like to feel with ease. I believe when I feel that way about myself I am in the best possible position to do the work the Divine wants me to do.

So my question, “What would Epic A do?” is a serious one because Gus would never walk into a party with any worries about “will they like me? am I worthy of their attention?” He would be his curious, friendly self and assume he would be liked.

That seems like a really nice way to be in the world.

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Filed under Compassion, Gratitude, Habits, Perfectionsim, Receiving

Day 6: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit


Is withdrawal beginning to kick in?

I had a sudden mad impulse to start shopping on Michael’s Crafts website. I began wondering, “If I do start shopping, how do I look at that? Can I consider it research?”

But my current rule is: no shopping unless it’s something I truly need and can’t move forward on a project without having. There’s nothing I need when it comes to crafts supplies. In fact, if anything I have too many crafts supplies and end up having to throw things away because inks have dried up or evaporated, papers yellow, blades rust, etc. I can’t even find half the stuff I bought!

So, no. No shopping today for anything.

But I’m beginning to miss it … and I’m not feeling inspired to fill that time with more productive diversions. Uh oh.

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