Posts Tagged ‘judgment’

The presence of voices

December 5, 2010

When I was very young, I became aware of the voices in my head . . . and not all of them get along with each other. They like to argue. At the age of five, one of them actually convinced me against the advice of another voice that if pepper made food hot and spicy, then salt would make food cool and mellow. Five glasses of water later, my parents asked me why I was drinking so much and I admitted to what the salt voice told me to do.

They found it highly amusing, but I realized at that point I could not trust the salt voice. Its intent at the time was to lead me astray. (The pepper voice said “I told you so!”) Eventually, I learned to befriend the salt voice because it can also come up with amusing and funny ways to be in life. It likes to ignore the perfect voice in me that absolutely requires I never do anything wrong. The perfect voice is just as important because it has impeccable judgment. It knows what to do when the perfect action is required, for instance, when I am driving a vehicle or caring for a child. Whatever action successfully navigates me and everyone else through those encounters intact is perfect.

What reminded me of my voices was Laurie’s post at Speaking from the Heart on perspective. I must hear from at least five different perspectives in me on any particular matter throughout my days and nights. You can just imagine what they are doing with my family dilemma at this moment (see post “the presence of burden.”)

Well, you probably can’t unless you hear voices, too.

If you do, we will just keep it between us. Okay? I’ve found that admitting to hearing voices in public brings a little more scrutiny from people than I care to deal with. From now on, we will just call them “perspectives” when in the company of others.

I started out this blog to discuss the mind-body “problem” – which I don’t think is really a problem. Essentially, the mind-body argument wants us to decide if the brain and mind are “one” or separate from each other or connected. So, there we have three voices . . . um . . . perspectives on an idea that I would like to explore.

But I’ve spent all this time and virtual space just introducing how my intellectual processing works so I will take up the discussion tomorrow.

(“No, let’s do it now.”)

(“Yeah. You are always waiting for the right time, which never comes by the way.”)

(“You guys leave her alone. She will write it when the words are ready to be written.”)

(“Oh, prefect, you always take her side!”)

(“That’s p-e-r-f-e-c-t, noodle brain, not prefect.”)

(“Whatever!”)

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of meaning

October 29, 2010

We all tell ourselves stories – about everything: ourselves, other people, what others are thinking. Our stories all have morals to them, too. We give meaning to events. Events by themselves have no meaning. We ascribe meaning to them. We say “this happened and that means I am and/or others are (fill in the blank).” We even pronounce judgment upon our own thoughts and feelings that resulted from the event.

As I am meandering (and occasionally stumbling and downright falling on my ass) down the pathway of the past and not quite forgotten memories, I will come upon an incident that occurred over 40 years ago and still be able to recall the details including what was said and done, what I felt at the time, and what I was thinking. I also recall the meanings that I branded upon that incident, my thoughts, and my feelings. I can even recreate the feelings as well as think those same thoughts again. If I hang with the memory just a little while longer, I also discover the decisions that I made in those moments about how I was going to be from now on.

It is not a shock to discover that I am still living out those decisions over 40 years later.

It does not surprise me that when I think about changing a decision, I feel just a tad bit threatened and scared. After all, the child I was then made those decisions to survive the circumstances she was powerless over and remain as emotionally and mentally intact as she could. Now, looking back, I watch the child I was give myself a meaning based on what other people said or did even though clearly at the time my initial thoughts were, “that’s your problem.” I knew even as young as five years of age that what other people said and did was all about them, not me. But I gave meaning to that behavior. It meant I was responsible.

And, I took on responsibility for others because I had been told that my attitude was wrong, that I was making other people behave the way they did (all of us had adults who played this trick on us – remember the words “You make me so ________!”? They did that to manipulate us into behaving the way they wanted us to behave.)

This way of living pretty much strangled any growth of individuality. Instead, I became a puppet who thought she could rule the world if she just danced to everybody’s strings just the right way.

How nutty is that?

Let me reframe my nutty judgment. The skill and the insight are useful. I am living in a world where most of the population believes that other people control how they feel and, thus, what they do, including how they treat themselves and others. I know how to identify these people and thus limit my exposure to them. I appreciate the five-year-old in me who is wise enough to recognize the symptoms in others, and who took good care of herself way back then. At age five, she had neither the power nor the words to extricate herself from such people.

But now she does.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

A heady experience

May 11, 2010

I have a tendency to live life from my head.

When I feel an emotion in my body, I listen to my brain tell me what emotion it is and what it means. I let my brain tell me what I should or should not do about the emotion or the situation that I am responding to.

I am not so different from about 99.9% of other humans. We all ascribe meaning to our lives, using what our brains know about us, our individual histories, and what we have been taught. It is a useful mechanism. Our brains are always working to take care of us in some way. They save us from certain death. We feel fear when threatened by people with guns or knives or a mother bear protecting her cubs. The primordial response to flee is programmed into us and our brains need only issue one command: get us out of here.

How we might flee, however, and surviving the flight requires every resource within us. So, we may not stop at that moment and consider what the threat means to us. Later . . . later when we talk about how we survived and live that moment over and over in our heads, there will be all sorts of meaning and judgments. We will have more feelings about the situation. Our heads will label each feeling and give them definition and meaning.

On a more subtle level, our brains assess, label, define, and give meaning to nearly every feeling. Our hearts, our souls, our spirits experience a sensation that we always believe we must interpret somehow. We cannot ignore the advice our brains give us. A lot of it is very useful. As my friend, Laurie, at Speaking from the Heart, says the key would be to connect our thoughts and our judgment with our bodies and with our souls and then do just do the best we can. She uses much prettier words than I do, but that is the simple message I have received from her wisdom.

Since I have been following that wisdom along with all of the other intents I set to bring my true presence to life, I have had the wondrous experience of not living in my head at all for small moments at a time. I have felt my presence just be in my body and felt only wonder at the feeling of being present without thought. Incredibly, my head does not fight back for attention. In that moment, thought is suspended and all is quiet. And there is a particular awareness that this way of being is absolutely perfect.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The perception of presence

April 16, 2010

Don’t take anything personally.

This is the second agreement in Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements.

And he doesn’t just mean anything . . . he means everything.

When a person let’s go of taking everything (or anything) personally, they essentially let go of our sometimes snarky nature of being judgmental towards ourselves and others. We are trained at a very early age to please others to get our needs met, to receive affirmation, to know that we are accepted and loved. When someone praised us, we felt good. We had done a good job. We could consider ourselves good.

But when we did something that another person considered “bad,” we would not receive praise, but rather be reprimanded, rewards would be withheld, and we felt bad. Some of us even considered ourselves as being bad.

The key, Ruiz says, is to realize that another person’s judgment of you or your actions as “good” or “bad” is all about them and their perceptions. None of it is about you. Perception is just as much a presence in you as it is in others. You and I also perceive and judge our world from our personal perspectives.

When someone does something we like and it makes us feel good, we compliment them. We would like for them to do more of those things that we approve of and make us feel good. When we do this we have just given power and control over our feelings to them. Ditto for feeling bad about what other people do and say.

Just for one day, be mindful of the presence of perception in yourself and others. Be aware of what you feel when another says or does anything. Watch that little judgmental angel rise to the occasion and begin to label another’s actions or words. Pay attention to how that judgment makes you feel. Then change your perception. Pretend you are someone else who might think what that person did or said was good. Watch your feelings change as you change your perception.

“ . . . for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Hamlet, William Shakespeare

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass