I am blessed in many ways, and yesterday I was again reminded of this. Two of my very close friends helped me celebrate my birthday by arranging for the three of us to explore our artistic abilities. After a lovely lunch downtown, we headed over to a place that provides space, supplies and atmosphere for putting paint to canvas and seeing what happens. As I have mentioned before, while I may have skills in a number of different arenas, painting and drawing are not among them. Good thing I was in it for the company (and wine) and not focused on the end product. What struck me most as we painted away was the ease with which we engaged with each other. Not a lot of conversation, as we were intent on the creative task at hand, but a sense of genuine comfort and lightness, which got me thinking, “How did we get this way?”
As I reflected a bit on this, it occurred to me that it was likely a combination of time, shared experience and trust. These are women I have known for decades. We work, play, laugh and cry together. They have had my back in the past and no doubt will continue to do so in the future. But there is one ingredient in our relationship that is essential to the trust (and resultant ease) that lives there and that is the absolute lack of judgment. I had such a great time making terrible art because I wasn’t afraid that they would judge me in any negative way.
What would it be like to move about in the world without worrying what others thought of you? Is this the secret to enjoying the journey?!
This week, try to pay attention to a time when you feel ill at ease. (This is a ‘felt’ sense vs. something in your mind so take a moment now to get clear about what that ‘feels like’ for you). Take note of the circumstances – who were you interacting with, what were you engaged in? And then ask yourself a simple question, “Am I feeling unsettled and uncomfortable because I believe I am being judged?” When I catch myself experiencing this, I try to ask myself two questions
“Why do I feel like this now?” and “Why do I care?”
And what I come up with most often is almost exclusively related to what is going on with me, not the other person. Either I am relying on their assessment of me to make me feel OK about myself or I have been spending too much time in the ‘judging seat’. We assume others are judging us perhaps because we are doing a fair amount of that ourselves.
There is a quote I bring to mind when I feel the dis-ease of assumed judgment. It makes me smile and helps me stop the negative talk track running in my mind.
“I used to worry what others thought of me until I realized no one was watching.”