Micro Habit Challenge 5.1: Who Am I Judging?

“Am I ready to stop judging?”

One week ago I heaved out this question. The first part of my micro habit challenge is over and I can formally announce: “Nope, I’m not ready to stop judging.”.

Nevertheless it is astonishing what I have learnt only by asking myself this and other fundamental questions about judgement. For example who do I judge, what and when do I judge?

The answer to “Who am I judging?” is pretty straight forward: mainly myself. I was never really good at ‘having an opinion’. Also ‘putting people in boxes’ was never quite my thing. Well, congratulations Uli, pat yourself on your shoulder.

But what I do from the moment I wake up until I go to sleep at night is squeezing myself into boxes. Yes, I’m not even putting myself in one box – no, I pull, I push, I haul and I squeeze myself violently into several boxes. What do I mean by that? I have this perfect image of who I would like to be in my head, but the reality doesn’t quite meet my expectations. What I don’t realize is that I don’t fit in these boxes – I can do whatever I want.

More clearly than ever I can see the source of my negative thinking patterns right in front of me: It is ‘judging myself’. I nearly have to laugh about how much I’m disparaging my own self by jamming myself into those boxes. I judge myself for nearly everything I say or do. This is what this challenge shows me. It is (nearly) ridiculous.

At the same time – more than ever I can see clearly what I need to change in order to liberate myself from this prison that I create in my head: I need to free myself from judging.

What did I really learn?

I’m imposing these massive expectations on myself. My whole self-worth relies on meeting unrealistic goals. And my only real goal is nothing else then being a flawless human being. I push myself to do everything in the most effective way. I’m telling myself what to want. I’m not allowing myself to just be how I am – full of mistakes like every other human being on the planet.

Before I even ask myself “What do I want?” I’m already judging myself. I’m telling myself what is the right thing to do or to want instead of doing what feels right.

“I’m supposed to be well-balanced.” “I should speak more italian.” “I should really call this friend.” “I should apply for this job.” “I should really write this article.” And if not? “I suck.” “I’m the worst.” “I’m a loser.” “I’m weak.” “I’m a narcist.” “I have zero emotional intelligence”… This is what I tell myself day in and day out.

What’s the key? Accepting what is instead of creating these weird ideas about how something (me) can or should be.

Judging is over-thinking. This is what happens when you have nothing to think about but thoughts. (Thanks Alan Watts for making me use this phrase.)

Man, I knew I’m self-centred, but my self-centeredness is astounding! The only good thing is – I can change it. And now that I read it here black on white I don’t even think I am that far off…

I’m creating barriers between me and the real world. And I’m going to break them down. All the past years I thought “I just haven’t quite find the right guy to start a relationship.” “I haven’t quite find my tribe.” “I haven’t quite find my purpose.”

Reality is that I’m the one who is closing herself off by pre-judging. How can I expect to be liked if I don’t accept myself? How can I expect to do what I really want if I don’t take the time to really listen to what I want deep deep down inside of me? It is so important to be true to myself.

With every judgement I reinforce self-doubts and create a negative image of myself. By ‘not-accepting’ what is inside of me or outside of me I’m creating a barrier between me and the outside world. I can only allow things to evolve in a natural way if I don’t judge them with the cruel voice of perfectionism in my head.

What is judgement? It is making a conclusion before there is even an outcome. It is labeling yourself. Why is judgement bad? Because we can only put our own experience in consideration. We make conclusions based on what we know. But what we know has nothing to do with reality. It is maybe a part of it, but nothing more than a bunch full of ideas about what reality could be.

If we want to get in touch with reality, the world, the truth or however you want to call it, we really have to take the time to look long enough, before we make a move.

Also – judging oneself can be a good thing. But it is only a good thing if we turn our self-judgement into something useful – self-discipline or the motivation to learn more or the willingness to change oneself.

What am I going to do?

So far I took a bigger step back from my thoughts and looked deeper into my innermost self. What am I going to do next? Of course, looking even deeper. I’m planning to write down where and how I judge myself in order to find out about some deeper layers.

Beyond that I want to transform these negative energies into positive ones. As soon as I find myself contemplating about what a great person I ‘could’ be I’m transforming this negative energy – into something positive or productive. I make creative energy out of judgement and self-justification.

Because this is what happens after judgement – We are starting to justify ourselves. And all this together is a big waste of energy…

Let’s go.

 

Micro Habit Challenge 5.0: Am I Ready to Stop Judging?

Before it is getting even more quiet here it is time to announce another challenge. After a successful social media challenge a couple of weeks ago I proclaimed that it is time for another level of challenges.

Recently there are a lot of topics I’m working on simultaneously: attachment, observation, judgement – these are subjects I’m studying next to happiness, pain and fear…

After all I found out that it all comes back to self-love. If I don’t love myself enough I’m not able to create a gap between me, my thoughts and the rest of the world. I take myself so f*cking serious, but I don’t love myself (enough). What is self-love again? It is accepting your mistakes. It is appreciating you peculiarities. It is the opposite of judgement.

So, what I really have to learn is to not judge myself. Of course – two weeks are a very short time to change your way of thinking. It is impossible. Some people say it takes 60 days to establish a new habit in your life. To be honest – I’m not even sure if ‘thinking negative’ is just a habit or a personality trait. But at the end it doesn’t really matter.

Why am I doing this challenge stuff?

What I learnt since I started this blog and what I learnt from my micro habit challenges is that it changes my thinking. At least it is a start, an initial trigger to question my behaviour.

By writing about it I’m forced to dig deeper. It helps me to get to the core of my quirkinesses in some areas of my life. These challenges became my tools. They are like verbal manifestations of positive change.

Why do I come up with this challenge now?

I’m beating myself up again for not focussing on ‘what needs to be done’. Doing this there is something that came into my mind – no something that revealed to me in front of me.

How do I come to the conclusion of ‘what do I have to get done’? Mainly I judge – I’m busy telling myself which things I have to do. Hahaha it is so ridiculous. In reality I don’t even have a real goal. So, there is nothing to aim for and therefore nothing to judge really – judge on which measurements?!

What if I just don’t judge for two weeks?

So, what am I going to do?

  • I don’t judge other people. I don’t judge them based on the way they look. I don’t say anything judgmental – neither to anybody in person nor to anybody else about anybody.
  • I ask myself before I open my mouth if what I’m going to say is a judgement or not.
  • And the hard ones: I don’t judge myself. If I do mistakes I won’t identify with them. If I think negative about myself I will stop that immediately and instead I will tell myself: “I’m okay how I am and everything is fine.”

This is basically it. I’m curious what I will learn within the next two weeks. In one week from now I will tell you about my first insights.

 

Learning to Unlearn

At the beginning of this blog in summer 2017 I thought this is all about ‘learning’. My aim was to expand my toolbox in order to be more productive, more balanced, more happy (Whatever that meant to me at this point in time.). I thought: “If I’d just learnt this lifehack.” “If I’d just be able to master my mind like successful person xy.”, everything would be perfect.

I failed adapting most of productivity hacks. I couldn’t develop these ‘healthy routines’ that supposedly would project an undreamt-of-degree of happiness into my life. Nothing improved. I might got slightly more stuff done, but my overall well-being hadn’t improved. And: I didn’t have the slightest idea how I wanted to feel.

“Why do you only think black and white?”, my therapist during this time called upon my lacking self-compassion. I didn’t have a proper answer. There was only this massive wall of perfectionism sealing off my potential. I could touch it, but I didn’t know how to demolish it.

I had to dig deeper. This was for sure. What I found was a lot of pain buried deep down under my obsessive will to ‘improve myself’. Under the pain there were my strengths downtrodden by my negative thinking patterns and destructive behaviours.

My mission was not to add something to my personality, but to reveal my individual traits. These characteristics are my weapons. These are the tools that help me to fulfill my purpose in this world. Happiness or let’s call it contentment is what comes naturally with accepting and integrating these peculiarities.

My task in this lifetime is to eradicate toxic habits in order to root up my real me. This requires commitment and courage. I can’t just ‘adapt’ other peoples methods of being productive, creative or self-disciplined. I have to develop my own strategies.

What I found out was that my bad habits and my thinking-patterns are not my own. I adopted them. I’m conditioned to think in a certain way. I’m conditioned to judge, to react, to be afraid. The good news is: I have the power to change.

But how? How do I unlearn? How do I re-condition? By pausing. By observing and by questioning my behaviour and my thoughts. The following to-do’s are not necessarily consecutive, they are interdependent. You will understand why:

1. Observe Your Behaviour

The first step in our process of unlearning is to observe. By observing we create a gap between us and our actions. Things change aggregate state as soon as we look at them. Habits lose their power as soon as we catch them unattended. They move from a subconscious level to consciousness.

This is something we can integrate into our daily life. “Again I wasted my energy for some stupid shit.” So what? This realization is the type of observation we need in order to create a gap.

It doesn’t only apply to actions, but also to thoughts. If the immoderate perfectionism is lurking, we just ask him what he wants. And there it is again: The gap. As soon as you look right into the eyes of your perfectionism it loses its power.

2. Detach From Your Conditions

If I keep telling myself “Stop this stupid perfectionism” I’m narrowing this gap again. I become a victim of the characteristic that I want to eliminate.

By punishing myself my mind becomes my enemy again. My whole body gets tight. I’m falling into subconscious behaviour.

The only option is “to let go”, to detach from it. To not see it as my trait, but as something that occurs every now and then. This way I look at my supposedly mistakes and surrender. If I take them lightly I don’t get trapped again.

3. Question Your Desires

Questioning became my tool to explore my needs and get to the core of my being. I found out that I can’t know what I want, but I can feel it – if I ask honest questions and take the time to find the answer.

To stay with the example of poisonous perfectionism: I asked myself. “Why am I such a perfectionist?”. The answer is that I’m not allowing myself mistakes, because I’m afraid to not be lovable. So, the desire under my desire to be perfect is to be loved. This reveals a complete different need. My need is not to be perfect, but to be loved.

More and more it becomes obvious why all my attempts to live happily failed. By following all these notions and desires blindly I distracted myself. I cured the symtoms, but I didn’t try to heal myself.

4. Connect With Yourself

I didn’t question if what I wanted was what I really wanted or just what I was told to be wanting or what I thought could fix my lack of self-esteem.

I wanted to become somebody instead of accepting who I am. I was not able to connect with myself and find out about my real qualities. It is not possible to find purpose anywhere else apart from at the very core of my being.

5. Alter Your Habits

There is always this thin line between not being too hard on myself and becoming the person who I want to be. But after all it is inevitable to start walking on the tight-rope of self-improvement.

In order to unlearn there needs to be the willingness to change. That’s the only reason why we should look at our behaviours, question them, detach from them and finally connect with ourselves. The next step is to do what is good for you – for your real you. And then DO IT. Alter it. Don’t do what doesn’t serve you anymore….

Through this whole procedure we reach a complete new layer of consciousness. This is how we are diving into the unknown – how we connect with the divine of our existence.

 

Learning To See

“People look at these statues, take selfies but they don’t know what they are looking at.” Since over a week I’m in Florence for no real reason – well, even as a nomad I need to be somewhere at times.

People ask me: “What are you doing here?” Haha, I haven’t seen all the sights of Florence at all, but I had the most intense encounters with the city itself. It forces me to stop. It pulls and pushes me, but mostly it captivates me between its dramatic walls. Within its history it helps me to write mine.

The introductory expression of disgust by a guy that I met on the way made me think. To be fair – I don’t know what I’m looking at either, but I’m paying attention – to the details.

For sure you know this feeling: You move to a new city or a different part of town. On your way to the supermarket a beautiful flower catches your eye on the sidewalk. All of a sudden you notice the ragged garden behind the overgrown fence. How could you not notice this beautiful gem in the middle of your hood?

There is so much to see if we look around. And I’m not only talking about museums, sights or gardens.

A lot of times we are rushing through life not noticing what actually happens around or within us. C’est la vie. That’s life. Yes, but what if we miss important waypoints, because we don’t take the time to actually look around?

Maybe life is only half lived if we rush through it. If we with our western mind always try to calculate instead to observe. Instead of letting a situation speak to us we are making assumptions quickly. Instead of observing we are trying to solve a problem immediately.

Don’t get me wrong – of course we need to target our goals. Of course we need to tackle the challenges of a humans life. But honestly: When was the last time you really spend with just “being” and letting everything else be?

We need to take action, but when do we actually take the time to wait and see? To look and listen? Not only to the other person or to Michelangelos’ David statue but also to difficult situations, to our feelings or our emotional reactions in certain moments. They are there for a reason. Every challenge, every feeling is here for a reason and wants to tell us something.

A lot of times – maybe there is not even any action necessary. Probably this is how we ‘lose track’. By not taking the time to observe and let the insights come to us.

It is all already thought, but the learning process never ends and I’m endlessly grateful.

 

Renewal

Finding your core is like peeling an onion – you peel off one layer after another. In terms of an onion you peel off the skin of the onion. In terms of your personality you peel off your fears, your psychological conditioning until you reach your core – your real you.

“There is nothing to achieve, there is only something to reveal”

….This sentence has been sticking around in my head for a couple of weeks.

It got quiet on growthbuddy. The last weeks I decelerated. But this time it was not a micro habit challenge. No, something within me told me to focus on myself. To sit down and rest. To cancel social commitments. To stop overthinking. It felt like somebody pushed the mute button to silence the voices in my head – a psychological hibernation.

Like nature is renewing also I’m experiencing some kind of “renewal” now. It took a while to put this in words, because I felt like there is a bit more to “reveal”. There is something bubbling underneath the surface. This “something” is slowly changing it’s aggregate state. This article is the result, but it can only be a snapshot of a process. What guided me within the first quarter of the year 2018 was not this “days of clarity” kind of light – it was something way more fundamental. There are a few things I finally understood or rather experienced:

1. “I am enough” instead of “I have to become better”

The last years I thought I have to learn more, gain more theoretical knowledge, excercise more, be more disciplined. I pressured myself with self-optimization, but there is something very important I forgot on the way: I do enough. I learn enough. I work enough. I read enough. I train enough. I am enough.

2. My “tools” are already there

Two years ago a couchsurfing host told me “You need to develop your tools in life.” At this point I had no clue what he is talking about. Okay, I had a rough idea. I knew that I was controlled by the “wrong” forces. I felt this numb desperation deep within, but I couldn’t quite locate it. I suspected there is “more” to life, but I thought I have to work harder in order to find out what it is. Now I finally understood:  These weapons are already there. I don’t have to earn them. Nobody will hand me my tools (including myself). Instead I am armed from early on. The universe had prepared me for my existence. My weapons are just bounded by a fence of fear and self-doubt.

3. The art of letting go

I’m repeating myself, but “letting go” is the most important thing in pursuit of overcoming these fears and doubts. The fence resolves itself as soon as I let go. As soon as I give away control true energy is released. What do I mean by that? “Giving away control” means stop planning, stop over-analyzing, stop controlling every situation in life. Finally I understood that I don’t have control. I’m wasting my energy trying to control the forces of life. Controlling finally yields acceptance of what is.

4. Judging is poisoning

Lowering the high demands on myself to a human level – this is something I’m practicing over and over again. I can’t let go, if I don’t stop judging myself. As soon as I stop punishing me for my shortcomings my real power evolves. I knew it all of my life, but finally I understand that I built the walls of self-doubt through self-judgement.

5. “Just keep walking” (my own pace)

As soon as I let go and do one step at a time I gain self-compassion and self-esteem. The tools I was talking about are revealing through my own experiences – through every encounter, every challenge I face, every conversation and every moment I spend alone in the forest or in my room. I don’t have to learn how to use them, because they are inherited in my natural design. My experience leads to self-discovery as long as I move forward accordingly to my own pace.

6. The challenge is to do the first step

The key to peel this onion of self-discovery is to do the first step into the dark corners of my personality. To find out how to peel it I needed these dark hours of self-doubt and despair in order to find the right techniques. The first step demanded a leap into the unknown, but then the unknown became my companion. Everything I reveal doesn’t belong to the matter of the unknown anymore and I finally become friends with my demons.

But patience is crucial for this process. It takes an undefinable time span of continous effort. This wall of fear is a very sturdy wall. Self-doubts are very stubborn contemporaries. No yoga retreat and no “self-awareness” workshop can teach us how to destruct these walls. It takes time.

These thoughts were already thought…

…but now they are manifesting. Don’t get me wrong – I wont stop reading books. I won’t stop seeking and learning, because all this (re)search, all this input brought me here.

The sun already gave a foretaste of what is about to come. But winter is not over yet. Slowly my heart is melting again and I’m coming back to life. I’m stretching my limbs, but I’m not about to run a marathon. It’s a lifelong process.

“ People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself. ”
— Marcus Aurelius