“If you have love in your life, it can make up for a great many things that are missing.
If you don’t have love in your life, no matter what else there is, it’s not enough.”
I grew up an avid reader of Ann’s columns – her twin sister ‘Dear Abby’ covered the West, while ‘Dear Ann’ had the East where I would eagerly seek out the Life Section of my local Toronto Star newspaper to read her wisdom addressing people’s life challenges and relationship problems. I collected her gems in a scrapbook I referred to over the years, but as I became more conscious, and embarked on my own quest for truth about love, I had more questions. What exactly is love? I couldn’t find it in her column I still have today: “12 Rules for a Happy Marriage” ..
Rule #1: Never both be angry at once…I was conditioned to believe uncomfortable emotions of anger and sadness were “wrong” (to be avoided), so this rule made sense at the time – my parents didn’t fight, and only argued occasionally. I learned to manage my feelings well. I had stability with no awareness of the value of emotions.
I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Success was education, working hard in a profession. My surgeon father and physician mother raised 6 of us born within 9 years – 3 more physicians, 2 MBAs. My incredible mom remains Queen of what can be done in a given day, and instilled something vital: self-esteem. She doesn’t complain, lives gratitude, and breathes common sense. Being kind and respecting others was our norm. Happiness came easy growing up.
I became a Chartered Accountant, got married, started a family. My outer world confirmed why I should be happy, but inside something was missing. I wasn’t experiencing my life - I was simply doing it. The ups and downs of being in my life I had unknowingly masked through an invisible perspective of ‘right and wrong’.
I was living the dream of what I thought my life should be only it wasn’t mine. When a friend introduced me to the life coaching profession, I immediately felt more ALIVE, and embraced the self-development work of becoming a life coach. I discovered meaning, fulfillment, deeper love. Healthy emotional hills and valleys.
I began to separate the inner critic from my own voice, which was becoming increasingly louder. ‘Right’ was no longer clear. Trusting my emotions and experiences gave me wisdom no book or guru ever could. My spiritual eyes opened and a blind spot to human suffering was revealed..
Our judgment prevents us from experiencing the love
we long for, where we have space to grow and be authentic to who we are.
Ann’s Rule #11 for a happy marriage: Remember, it takes two to make an argument.The one who is wrong is the one who will be doing most of the talking.
Sounded logical at the time. Presumably someone who was wrong would have to convince, correct, control, and try to change someone (My 4 C’s of judgment). But wait, wouldn’t someone who was right be doing the same thing?
The stark realization that no one is right or wrong changed my entire world view. This one assumption was driving our conflicts, and misunderstandings with ourselves, and each other. Guilt, betrayal, regret, un-forgiveness. When we judge, we become attached to being right, and making others wrong. There is a critical difference between saying or doing something wrong, and being wrong. It’s the difference between our thinking and who we are. We are not our thoughts.
Believing someone IS wrong justifies self-righteousness. We may think we are better in our own minds, yet on a soul level we are all equal. Someone’s thinking may be unloving, selfish or any other negative quality that has a destructive impact, but no one chooses to be wrong. We project this hierarchical destructive energy. This is the essence of understanding what it means to judge someone. It’s an invisible force we’ve created.
Truth is in the eye of the beholder, and each person can only be their version of ‘best’. May not be your best. There is a spectrum we live on – fear on one side and love on the other that determines whether an outcome is constructive (we call ‘good’) or destructive (we call ‘bad’). Judgment comes from fear and it breeds resentment, anger, hatred and gives us permission to condemn another human being. We do not have to agree, like or choose a destructive path, but when we make someone wrong with our judgment we all suffer. We make mistakes – things we wish we could have done differently in a given moment, but it’s how we learn, grow, and become better next time.
When we judge someone, we feel a need to Correct, Convince, Control, and Change them (4 C’s living from fear side) instead of being curious, understanding, and having compassion (living from love side) that leads to teaching, modeling, and sharing. The catch: if someone lives in fear, sharing your truth can illicit fear (eg. judgment, anger, jealousy, resentment). Discerning who you can trust with your truth becomes a skill to master.
The highest form of love asks that we surrender judgment of ourself (unconditional self-love), and of others (not making people wrong). True intimacy lives here. When judgment is released, you provide the freedom to grow into your authentic self that is love. It flows freely because there is no attachment to right or wrong.
A dance begins when we are in relationship with another – our individual ways of being in the world now colliding to create a partnership that can remain healthy, and harmonious over time, and give each a way to grow.
When we are in relationships where we cannot grow because of fear of criticism and judgment (not meeting expectations, or disappointing someone)
tiny pieces of us slowly begin to die, until we become unrecognizable to ourselves.
One of my favourite writers on relationships, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the runaway bestseller “Eat, Pray, Love” beautifully describes the challenge when 2 people come together in relationships:
Living conscious relationships means giving each other the space
to grow authentically into who we really are.
“Physical man gets into an uncomfortable place when he concludes, “I and those like me have come to the right decisions, and everybody that’s living outside of these right decisions is wrong.” And then he spends his life pushing against all those “wrong” decisions and cutting himself off from the Life Force that would help him have joy in his, what he concludes to be, right decisions. There is no one right path. There are endless paths, and the differences in the paths are what make them more and more, and more, perfect. The same old path no longer serves.”
How to Surrender Judgment (Let Go of the “Shoulds”..)
1) Release expectations. Someone should be a certain way in alignment with how you see the world. You can communicate what you see, want, understand, and others will either agree or not. Trying to meet other people’s expectations or needing others to meet yours leads to disappointment and conflict.
2) Stand up for your own values. What is meaningful, important, and joyful for you? Live these values, but don’t force them on others (you should be..). You either share the same values or you don’t. Don’t compromise your values.
3) Believe you deserve to be happy. If you don’t believe you deserve every experience of pure joy and love, you will not experience it in your life. Let go of I should be…you cannot be anyone other than you. Having love for yourself means you have it to share with others. Notice if you are looking for love externally (title, accomplishments, praise, other’s expectations) to fill you with the illusion of love.
4) Let go of self-judgment of how you should be…to make someone happy. Wanting others to be happy without it being about you comes from love not fear.
The connection between our body, mind, and soul always fascinated me, and Rebecca Saxe, an MIT Professor gave a fascinating talk on how our brains process moral judgment:
Rebecca speaks on how we think about other people’s thoughts. Stimulating a part of the brain can increase the level of blame you place on
someone! Yet it’s you that has the power to choose your thoughts that impacts how you see someone, which determines the level of hatred and anger versus understanding and compassion you feel. It will impact whether you choose to punish in anger or teach with loving consequences.
We are all connected, and the moment you judge someone, you condemn yourself, and send that energy to others. Judgment keeps you in unforgiveness, blame, and resentment that poisons your soul. Not judging someone does not excuse destructive behaviour – instead we use discernment to determine if someone is living in love or fear.
Emotions that are self-destructive, victim-minded are fear-based: ego, judgment, guilt, shame, blame, resentment, self-pity. Love feels at peace, grounded, clear, compassionate, understanding, patient, and kind.
A judgment-free world allows your authentic self to shine, and it’s a space only you can create.
No matter what else you have, if you don’t have the freedom to be who you are in your relationships you will not experience real love. This is the missing piece many strive to find in their desire for love, and it’s available to you when you learn to surrender judgment.
Carolyn Hidalgo, CPCC, ACC, is a Relationship Coach, and author of the upcoming book: Live the Love You Deserve. Visit www.carolynhidalgo.com to get your copy of her FREE Relationship Report to minimize conflicts, achieve forgiveness, and deepen love.