Okay, let’s be honest. The word “judging” doesn’t have the most positive connotation for most of us; especially, when it is used to describe ourselves or other people. And, yet, making a judgment is something that all of us do each and every day, in order to make decisions – whether big or small, as we navigate our day-to-day lives.
So, the question isn’t really whether or not we all judge; but rather, how are we doing it? Are we doing it in ways that inspire positive action from ourselves and the world around us, or are we simply making critical judgments about life, ourselves, the world, and the people in it that actually limit us in some way? Are we discerning for ourselves, or just plain being judgmental? Let’s take a look at two common judgments that go beyond self-discernment, and transcend into limiting beliefs that actually block our potential.
One of the most common ways we limit ourselves is through our critical interpretations. An interpretation is an opinion or judgment that we create about an event, situation, person, or experience and believe it to be true. Often times, interpretations get stronger as we confirm our beliefs with ourselves and others, over-and-over again, in an effort to seek confirmation that the way we think is true. And, yet, more often than not, we can rarely be 100% certain that our interpretations of a situation are unequivocally true. In fact, they are simply based on our own perceptions of matters, and we all know, these can vary vastly from one person to the next.
For instance, you and I could have both attended the same meeting, when the executive vice president proclaimed that she is approaching fiscal planning differently this year. While one interpretation could be that our past approach must have been broken, another could be that we are simply going to test a new approach. Regardless of what we read between the lines, the only real facts we have is that the EVP has asked us to do something differently. Yet, how much time do we really spend analyzing what’s behind the situation, and how often does this sort of endless mind chatter distract us from taking productive actions?
When we catch ourselves making interpretations that seem to do nothing more than hold us back, then try the following mind reframe questions: 1) What’s another way to look at that? What would someone else say about that? What would someone with an opposite POV say about that?
Another common limiting belief, which blocks us even more from progressive outcomes, is an assumption. Assumptions carry a lot of weight because they are firm expectations rooted in the grounds that just because something happened in the past, it is bound to happen again. Because we make our assumptions based on real life experiences, it’s very hard to let go of them. For this reason, assumptions are extremely effective in holding us back from making any attempts to move forward, or try again.
I’ve seen a lot of heavy assumptions arise for many of my clients. Thoughts like, “well, I cannot approach my boss with an alternative point-of-view without it going badly,” or “every time I stand-up to present material in front of a large audience, I clam-up and freeze.” And, it’s no surprise that thoughts like these have a strong hold over any of us.
Again, if we’ve experienced something with our own five senses, it can be tough to let go of it. And, yet, hanging onto ideas like these does little more than to hold us back. So, when we catch ourselves making limiting assumptions, ask the following reframe questions to shift thought towards new possibilities: 1) “Just because that happened in the past, why must it happen again?” and 2) “What new approaches can I take to help it go differently the next time?”
At the end of the day, the most productive judgments we make are based on choices from reasonable beliefs that also stimulate our growth and potential. If there are a myriad of interpretations and assumptions that we can make, for any given situation, then why not choose the ones that enable us to move forward? And, if you know that you have a tendency to form judgments that are limiting and critical, and yet, you also feel a little stuck, then try and think about how you can keep your judgments a little less judgmental.
Nina Cashman is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Learn more about the DailyWorth here.