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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 2:22 am 
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I post this topic here even though it was prompted by me doing one of the recovery workshop lessons. I feel I might have reacted more from being a partner than a recoverer ... Actually I feel it's a question for everyone so I will open it for both sides.

I feel sometimes as if there is a trade off between sticking to my values and being judgemental.
I've done this lesson and I was amazed to see how many of my core beliefs were judgemental. But they seem to support my values so I'm pretty puzzled because I do value not being judgemental and I do call it out loud when it happens and I become aware.

Actually, this is not the first time when I've felt trapped like this. When trying to teach the kids the healthy/proper/good way ... it's very hard not to become judgemental and pass it on to them. Teaching young kids seems at times an impossible task if you want to be politically/morally correct ... I do try not to make it an absolute value and teach tolerance but still ... how do you really make yourself heard when you say this is not good/healthy for you but other people do it cause they don't understand (this might imply lack of intelligence...)??? or cause they don't think about it (this implies ignorance) or they just don't care ... or what? In a way it's still somehow looking down on people and I feel that I also do that quite a lot ... It's not that I would be rude or disrespectful ... it's more of a deep, inner belief that they are in the wrong and I am in the right when acting from my values ....

I did find a small doorway out of it by using the terms "healthy-unhealthy" instead of "right or wrong", "good or bad" ... But still ... it's a tight squeeze and the conflict is still there...

Am I missing something?
How do you do it?

_________________
"A wholehearted attention feels like the nurturing presence that I always wished I had in a parent. Now I am free to be there for myself in a way that I assumed I needed from someone else." Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:41 am 
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hi ursula,

Oh, I can relate very much so. and I wish I had words of wisdom or something definitive for you, but what I have instead is solidarity with you.

In addition to wondering if my values are judgemental (after all, aren't values relative to the person defining them) I also have found myself wavering on what is important to me value wise. This relates to my work in dismantling my own belief systems, which can often leave me feeling ungrounded in terms of what values are core for me.

A few questions come to mind that may help you:
-is being judgemental 'bad'?
-is it possible we make judgements every single day, simply as a matter of being human (everything from judging what lane to drive in, to discerning whether a person is safe for us to form a close relationship with). Could it be that judgement is an essential part of human nature and survival?
-is it possible that when you speak of 'they are in the wrong and I am in the right' could be reframed as: "this is what is right for ME. Might not be right for THEM but it's right for ME."?

Something I have practiced recently is learning to listen to the quietest, stillest part of me when discerning whether something is a concrete, grounded value. Often the noise from my ego, emotions, etc covers up what is the most true thing for me. If I get into the right frame of mine--which for me is one of light, grounding, peace, calm, etc--the answers about what is a value become clear.

For example, a deeply held value I have is every human being has agency, regardless of their circumstance, lot in life, etc. Another deeply held value for me is my best self shows up, and is in service to the world, when I am in an environment that uplifts, supports, and nutures me. These statements come to me with such clarity and quiet conviction that it's clear they are values--and that sticking to them is an act of personal integrity and wholeness for me.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 8:50 am 
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Hi Ursula - I also struggle with this issue of judgement vs. values as well. For example, I value tolerance. So, in particular, I value tolerance of diversity. But I am intolerant of bigotry.

For some of my values, I do see my reaction based on morality, or right and wrong. For example, I believe that when we have power or dominian over something or someone helpless, we should hever hurt or abuse them (e.g., child abuse, animal abuse, elder abuse). I don't believe we should mock people with disabilities, or exclude people based on some non-intrinsic value like their race, or sexual orientation, or religion. On the other hand, I know some very religious people who do exclude and do mock so I see myself as respecting their right to be religious, but not respecting the way they treat people.

But, life is full of gray rather than black and white so this all gets very tricky. Like me, for example. I value treating people with respect and trying to be loving, but I can lose my temper and rage away. So, I violate my own values about the way I can treat others but at the same time value empathy and need to empathize with myself. So, I guess I hold conflicting views at the same time.

Probably more of a muddle than a help, but this is how I think about these issues in general. Usually, I try to take the specific issue or situation for which I have a conflict and think/feel my way through it often ending up with holding two, sometimes conflicting, views at the same time.

dnell


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 6:20 pm 
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Good question. I think many partners (who hold themselves to their own values) will share a similar experience, here (myself included).

The way I see it, values are without judgement. It is the way in which we view our values (and the values of others) where judgement can become an issue. i.e. judgement lies within perceptions, and if we perceive others (or their values) as “wrong” or “bad”, then we are most likely judging. To explain the values of others as coming from a place of lack of awareness is not to judge (in my opinion, as I do not believe that any human being would intentionally act in ways that are harmful or damaging to one another or to ourselves, unless they lack awareness for the reasons they do so) unless we follow our explanation with “and it is wrong to lack awareness” (for example). Again, the values themselves are without judgment, but the perceptions and attitudes surrounding the values are where judgement exists. As with beauty, judgement is in the eye of the beholder. With that, others may perceive judgement in our values, even where none exists. If you question whether there is judgement in your values, there may be and it is good to have this awareness so that you may reflect and then correct (since judgement is clearly against your values).

I think there is often a similar confusion between responsibility and blame, such that it is difficult for people to separate the two. Here, to blame is to pass judgement, whereas to assign responsibility is to remain neutral. Values are also neutral. It is the meaning and perceptions we attach to our values that are not neutral (I value honesty, therefor I am a "good" person; you do not, therefor you are a "bad" person). Instead, a person who does not value honest is simply a dishonest person. Recognizing that a person is dishonest (for example) will help us navigate our relationship/interactions with that person.

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Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 9:45 pm 
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Coachmel, I really appreciate you breaking this down and comparing neutral values with perceptions that may be moralizing or judgemental. Your use of the word neutral was especially helpful, as I work through values in the context of looking closely at belief systems that may inhibit growth for me.

Thank you. this gave me real relief And grounding from some of my internal warfare. :g:

If he has time, I would be curious and thankful to hear CoachBoundless' viewpoint, particularly as a practicing (?) buddhist.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 02, 2015 9:49 pm 
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I absolutely agree with Coach Mel. I think some of the difficulty comes in when we are in a relationship with someone where our values disagree. (Or, like with our recovering partners, their values are undefined or constantly changing based on what is convenient.) Protecting our own values can sometimes feel like judgement of someone else's values. For example when our partner's claim to value something that is a part of their addiction and we distance ourselves from them as a means of protecting our own. I think it can help to think of it as controlling only what is ours to control... we control our own behavior and our own values. We leave others the freedom to control theirs and respond to our boundaries and values as they need to.

When it comes to teaching my children our family's values, I tend to approach it by saying, "We behave like this because it's important to (insert value here.. respect others, be kind, be responsible... etc..)" When people behaving differently comes up I tell my children, "you don't need to worry about their behavior, you worry about your own." My goal is to help my children focus on becoming who they want to be and teach them to allow others to worry about their own behavior. We're teaching our children that other people can make their own choices, and healthy ways to respond to other's choices when they disagree.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 2:12 am 
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Thank you everyone for taking the time to share your wisdom. Much appreciated and very helpful.

I realize I was confusing some things maybe because not taking the time to really define what being "judgemental" was. For me, classifying someone as dishonest or unaware "sounded" judgemental so I was at a loss as I value honesty and awareness ... But now I see the "fault" in my reasoning ... actually the lack of having clearly defined concepts (which would actually mean becoming truly aware?? so ... work in progress;) ...) Now I see how being honest is a question of fact, not a subjective notion ... therefore, dishonesty is also a question of fact, it's not passing judgement ... All I do is acknowledge the state of the matter, acnowledge the facts ... Of course, the fact I happen to value honesty and not dishonesty is coincidental ... and it's just how I choose to live my life and adjust my behaviour and thoughts ... But I am not being judgemental in acknowledging facts. It's probably how words have this emotional charge in the sense that people react emotionally to certain words so we are trying to be very careful about not making others uncomfortable or even ourselves. Cause, if you tell someone they are dishonest/unaware, they are not going to smile back at you and say ... "thank you very much for noticing". I guess that could be a reason why I felt like it is judgemental, cause it bothers people ... and if you dare express your opinion to others but you are reluctant to say it to that person\s face is even worse ... it's like you are a coward and you talk "badly" of people behind their backs.

Of course you could keep your mouth shut and live by your values ... but then, as I was saying, sometimes you need to stand up for what you believe in and let other people know ... like in teaching kids ... and sometimes as much as you try to keep it theoretical and teach them the concepts, they are still bound to "embarrass" you when you go and visit relatives by saying out loud "mommy, uncle is dishonest because he was lying to me ...." and then you turn a bit redish or greenish and you try to navigate through the situation without making collision and heading for disaster ... Isn't it lovely how innocent kids are?

Anyways, I think I get it now and I have a good measure for my values and the way I formulate them... I will rewrite all my statements from a neutral, non-judgemental, matter-of-fact perspective without subjective emotional attachments/rejections ... and I will keep measuring and correcting ...

Thank you again, I've got what I needed.

P.S. Ohh ... I would love to hear opinions about classifying people as fat, ugly, trashy, pretty, sexy, attractive, etc. Apart from objectifying them ... and I would define objectifying here as looking exclusively at the physical appearance and not considering the whole person, whole identity (emotions, feelings, history,etc) ... is it also judgemental? As in being overwheight is a question of fact?? Or when it comes down to people's appearance one shouldn't apply that criterion ... cause it might be beyond their control? My recent experiences almost convinced me that I can train my brain for those perceptions no to pop out when I meet people that could easily strike one as fat or ugly or whatever ... why should that be the first thing that pops in my mind? why should that be the first thing I notice? It is a question of perception and I think it's a very shallow and superficial way of looking at people/experiencing reality which leads to objectifying them ... I think that with a lot of exercise that can be changed/altered. What do you think?

_________________
"A wholehearted attention feels like the nurturing presence that I always wished I had in a parent. Now I am free to be there for myself in a way that I assumed I needed from someone else." Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 6:26 am 
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Hi Ursula - I am responding to your thoughts about classifying people based on appearance. I think we all look at people and make quick judgements. I'm not a SA, so my quick judgement isn't always about "sexual desirability". Given a dark and stormy night on the street, my quick judgement may be
"is this person safe or not." But, I think it is human to look at people, especially based on our sexual orientation, and notice attractiveness. That's not unhealthy. Is it a slight bit objectifying? Well, yes. Is it destructive? Well, not if it doesn't lead to obsessive fantasy or compulsive behavior that interferes with intimacy and real life. And, it is culturally influenced? Hugely!

But, I read an interesting study about how people evaluate "attractiveness." They took people into a situation where they first met and then had to work together for some time on a project. They had people rate the attractiveness of others based on their first impression. No one would be surprised how the ratings turned out since it was based on the current cultural scale of attractiveness. But, over time, at the end of the project, when they had people rate the attractiveness of others, the ratings really changed. Uniqueness of the individual turned out to be a better predictor of a higher rating. This uniqueness could have been physical (funny smile, crooked tooth) or emotional (they were funny, they were nice). As we get to know people, we change our view on their attractiveness. I know for me that if I like someone over time, I start thinking of them as attractive, even beautiful. And that's the wonder and joy of NOT objectifying people. When we connect to something real, we can experience so much more beauty and joy.

dnell


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 03, 2015 11:06 am 
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Quote:
It's probably how words have this emotional charge in the sense that people react emotionally to certain words so we are trying to be very careful about not making others uncomfortable or even ourselves.
Yes. And the reason that we do not wish to make ourselves or others uncomfortable is that we are socialized in this way. The culprit on either side is fear. We are afraid of rejection, so we avoid being straight with people (as you pointed out) in case they don’t like it (and by extension, don’t like us). Additionally, people don’t like hearing that they have violated a value we hold because it occurs as a threat of rejection of them. Essentially, this perception is about them and has nothing to do with your values. It is their fear.

It will take practice to learn to express your values and boundaries without fear of rejection. The first thing is to remind yourself/remember that values are neutral. The second is to ask yourself what is more important—being true to your values and protecting those values, or gaining (false) approval of someone who objects to your values. Another thing to check is how you deliver your values. If there is defensiveness or aggression, it is likely that there is a fear attached to your expression. Nothing wrong here. Again, it will just take practice. It is okay to not be comfortable to express yourself, especially in a society where many people are taught (either explicitly or implicitly) that they should repress parts of themselves to avoid upsetting others. Consider, what is the cost of not expressing your values? What is the benefit of not expressing your values? What other values that you hold are either violated or supported in either? What is the impact on your overall vision?

Quote:
I would love to hear opinions about classifying people as fat, ugly, trashy, pretty, sexy, attractive, etc. Apart from objectifying them ... and I would define objectifying here as looking exclusively at the physical appearance and not considering the whole person, whole identity (emotions, feelings, history,etc) ... is it also judgemental?


Yes, being fat (or ugly, etc.) is a matter of fact (and opinion, depending on whose scales you use—the army will have stricter criteria than weight watchers, for example). Noticing that someone is (overweight) only becomes a judgement when we assign value to that person because of their body size (or other physical features). This is regardless of wether the person’s physical features are within their control, or not.

Making such snap “judgements” is not the same as being judgemental, as the former arise from unconscious mental shortcuts (heuristics) that we have learned/acquired over the course of our lives. These are not necessarily unhealthy but they can be destructive --especially if we add meaning to them. For example, if you decide to cross the street because you see someone whom you would classify as unsafe coming toward you, this is simply an action based on an heuristic that has taught you to identify that person’s appearance/demeanour, etc. as unsafe. There is no harm in crossing the street if you feel unsafe, and the possibility is that it could be beneficial (if the person did turn out to be a threat). However, if, upon realizing that the person was probably not a danger or threat, you continue to mentally justify yourself by telling yourself all of the reasons that this person might have been a threat, then you would be passing judgement. The initial reaction is without judgement, the ongoing conversation (story/meaning associated with the event/person in question) is likely judgemental. If the event ends with you crossing the street, then there is no judgement. Conversely, the other person might also make their own judgements, and take offence to your having crossed the street. In this case, it is because they have added meaning to your having crossed the street, and have judged you for it (which is fear based, as well).

_________________
Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. (Viktor E. Frankl)


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 2:56 am 
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Thank you Dnell and Coach Mel!

Oh boy, this one is a tough one to crack. I've spent all night thinking and discussing it, even H got quite animated in the discussion.
Seems that "judgement" can mean "applying value/meaning" ... as in getting subjectively involved, taking up an emotional/mental position that you defend, but it can also be used as "making an assumption, having an intuition, making an inference" which can be "neutral" as it is a way of making sense of our environment, of learning how to engage with it ... But for me they are two distinctive uses of the word "judgement" and in this post I was referring to the first one. Maybe the difference is not so clear cut as I see it?

I've even looked up what heuristics mean ... and I kind of understood, but then I went on to cognitive biases and I freaked out ... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases ... this is the link for anyone interested it's quite scary and fascinating ... as I seem to be "guilty" of many if not all of these biases ... which makes sense in as much as I am a human being ...

Now ... I'm quite confused again ... it seems that all people are subject to some imperfect ways of processing information (because of its complexity, how memory works, etc.) ... I get that there are intrinsic limitations to cognition ... But still, is it possible to correct or alter some of them? Or they shouldn't necessarily be messed with because it's the result of evolution which refined us as species from an adaptative perspective?

P.S. Maybe I don't really get this, it seems that these cognitive biases can and should be actually corrected ... I've just found "the illusion of control" on the list and well, I know I used to suffer from it but I've definitely changed it and still working on it.

_________________
"A wholehearted attention feels like the nurturing presence that I always wished I had in a parent. Now I am free to be there for myself in a way that I assumed I needed from someone else." Tara Bennett-Goleman, Emotional Alchemy


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 04, 2015 9:29 am 
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Ursula - I know what you mean about the issue with our unconscious cognitive biases. Ick! This being human....lots of potential dark stuff in addition to all the wonderful stuff. I do know that we can change these biases based on experience. For example, I do know that children who are raised in environments with lots of racially diverse other children are not as racist when they grow up. Good news! I do know that adults can change their biases IF they are made conscious, and IF they are addressed. That's the good news.

For all of us here on RN, I think some of our conscious and unconscious biases about gender (all women are....; all men are....) play a significant role in SA. That's just my two cents.

But, in this case, I see the glass as half full. If we become aware of our biases; and if we are sincerely motivated to examine them and create experiences to change them; we will get better.

dnell


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 05, 2015 3:07 am 
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Hi, glad I stumbled across this post. Great for me at this time as I am currently exploring this area and the reality of what I do in relation to the values I hold.

My inspiration for looking at myself in that respect was born from looking at the objectifying way of thinking in my partner's SA. What transpired/how I see it, was that the sexual component very much made women into sexual objects, attributing certain characteristics and fantasy situations to their persona which related to the outside/visual of the 'object', which is no news for any of us. I perceive this as adding to a person, targeting the outside. With me he seemed to target a lot of the core of who I am, but took part of my personality away instead of adding. I perceive this as amputation. Targeting the inside. He objectified me in a way that took away any feelings or actions I would likely display which he considered as hindering his SA acting out. He reduced me into a 'thing' that had little to do with who I am or with what I was thinking or with how I would reacted. He was giving himself the answers he needed. Contemplating his need to add and amputate in order to come full circle in his SA thinking, to me his objectifying did not seem unsimilar thinking to judging a person which many of us do on a daily basis. Was I giving myself the answers too? I thought if I meet a person do I 'fantasize' them into a person they are not? Is this my very own objectifying behaviour?
Example, I met a woman last summer. She very enthusiastically made friends with my dog. This lady's passion for my dog seemed 'over the top' and she had missing teeth, dishevilled hair and my first thought was 'loony'. I am certainly not proud of this, but quite honestly this was my first reaction and I was glad to get away from the intensity of her behaviour. During the following months I sporadically bumped into this lady in the streets and I started to change my perception. And soon I realized that I was in fact dealing with a very intelligent, confident and extremely animal loving person. Talk about feeling ashamed, but meeting her was also a valuable teaching for me. I consider myself a bit of an 'odd ball' and I have always been happy with that and am content with the me that I am. I love interesting people that have something to say that I don't know yet. People who challenge my way of thinking by who they are and what they say. But what I seem to do is put them into mental pick & choose boxes. This lady has now become a friend and I really like her a lot. This was quite an extreme example and it serves as a lighthouse for me ever since. I like to think that I live by the mottos 'don't do what you don't want to have done to yourself and don't ask from others what you are not prepared to give yourself'. I failed myself there. Values and behaviour did not match up. I realize how influenced I am by cultural and life experiences. Brainwashed in many ways. And my aim is to focus on a soul level rather than falling back on learned behaviour and perception. I want to unlearn this.

How are you guys dealing with this on a practical level? I am looking for ways to become a better person for myself and this is an aspect I want to address. Since I started to look at myself more honestly, when I bump into someone new I make a conscious effort to look at them as best as I can at a soul level and I observe me thoughts vigilantly. Reminding myself that I do not know them and do not have any or not all information/reality about him. I started to train myself and what helps me is now looking at interaction in a way that is not taking but giving. For me I think that judging a person is in a way implying what I would get our of it. What would my life look like with that person in it in whatever way. Appreciating them and looking at what I can give rather than take is a practical way of how I can improve. Any other tips? Would be greatly appreciated.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 1:23 am 
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Hi all,

Quote:

If he has time, I would be curious and thankful to hear CoachBoundless' viewpoint, particularly as a practicing (?) buddhist.


I’ve been summoned! :s: CoachMel let me know about this thread, and I have come with some thoughts. :g:

And yes, I am practicing...but I’m not a “teacher” (and even if I was, I’d still be learning)...so everything I say here is just from my own (constantly changing) perspective.

This is a pretty good summation of this by dnell:

Quote:
But, life is full of gray rather than black and white so this all gets very tricky.


Yes. This is a HUGE topic that gets into a lot of different areas of being human. There could be books written about all the factors that play into this. I wasn’t entirely sure exactly what you meant initially Ursula by “being judgmental vs. having values”, (and I see you noted that yourself later on) but I think dnell cleared it up:

Quote:
I also struggle with this issue of judgement vs. values as well. For example, I value tolerance. So, in particular, I value tolerance of diversity. But I am intolerant of bigotry.


Yeah, I understand this completely. And, we of course must take action to end bigotry, racism, etc...to me, it would actually be against my values (and many people’s) to NOT speak up in such circumstances (as that silence makes you essentially complicit). However, there is a way to go about this to improve your changes of changing people’s minds.

The way I usually think about this now, is much the same way that I talk to people on the recovery side about putting into context behaviours of people who’ve contributed to their addiction in their lives (ie. family). That is, that everyone is the way they are for a reason; everyone’s behaviour, in the present moment, is the summation of everything that has brought them to that point, traced back endlessly. Rather than individual, permanent “selves”, we are more like continual flows, millions of different causes and conditions coming together at once.

By seeing people like this (rather than individuals), it is much easier to see that “good” and “bad” labels for people do not really exist (at least anywhere except the mind of the person thinking them). There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” people...those really can only be used to describe people’s overall actions. There can be good or bad actions...but even that is deceptive, because actions are really only good or bad within the context of the situation they occur in. “Good” actions can still have negative consequences; “bad” actions can have positive consequences.

What does this all have to do with say, bigotry (or anyone acting badly who we feel like we’re judging)? When we start to see people this way...we realize that everyone is the way they are for a reason (which makes sense, if only you believe in cause and effect). So anyone’s behaviour is the result of what they have learned and experienced. This doesn’t mean wrong behaviour doesn’t happen of course; but seeing it this way puts things in a better context to respond to. For people mad (or even devastated) at things their family has done...you thus realize that those people all did those things for their own reasons. Everyone has had their own pains in life that create further anger, delusion, etc. Again, this doesn’t justify terrible actions; but it does put them in a context from where you can respond to them from a point of compassion, rather than blame (as Mel said), and realize that the point here is to alter the person’s thinking and therefore future actions...not shame them as a person. Psych studies have shown that if people feel more attacked for their beliefs (when called out for something or responded to in a judgemental way), it can, rather than make them change their mind, actually make them cling tighter to their wrong beliefs...rather than if you focus on the ideas or actions that were wrong (rather than focusing on how “YOU are wrong”).

Quote:
i.e. judgement lies within perceptions, and if we perceive others (or their values) as “wrong” or “bad”, then we are most likely judging.


Yup, exactly. In Buddhist philosophy (since meepmeep asked if I could talk a bit about that), the fundamental illusion is considered to be that we see our “self” as opposed to the “other”, whether that is other people or the “outside world”, when the reality is that we are always interconnected to others and the world (and always have been). Again, think about this...how many times does anger, fear (or judgment) get created when we very subtly think “I am right; you are wrong” or “I’m good; you’re bad”. However, when you actually search for this "I", it can't be found; we are constantly changing. Even what is deemed to be "good" one minute, we could think is "bad" the next...which should show how fleeting and frivolous these distinctions can be. To an extent, this is just what our mind does; categorizes things. This has a necessary survival quality to it. We need to quickly categorize the world around us to stay away from things that may harm us in order to survive (as well as collect things that we need that are necessary for our survival). But, this categorization also causes us a lot of strife in terms of our own thinking and relationships.

Quote:
To explain the values of others as coming from a place of lack of awareness is not to judge (in my opinion, as I do not believe that any human being would intentionally act in ways that are harmful or damaging to one another or to ourselves, unless they lack awareness for the reasons they do so)


I know what you’re saying here, though I can’t agree in all cases, particularly in the case of psychopaths. There are definitely people out there who willingly, maliciously harm and manipulate others and know exactly what they’re doing. But, I know what you mean in general, and a lot of people are lacking in self-awareness in regards to how their actions affect others (or haven’t even heard of the concept of values before).

Quote:
I think there is often a similar confusion between responsibility and blame, such that it is difficult for people to separate the two. Here, to blame is to pass judgement, whereas to assign responsibility is to remain neutral.


Yup, another great point (and there is even a psychologist who’s work I’ve read who works on the “Responsibility Without Blame” concept regarding addiction, which is an important one). With responsibility, it basically indicates “you did this action, hence here are the consequences”, whereas with blame, it’s more about rubbing the person’s nose in what happened (and very subtly focused on the past, rather than moving forward and correcting that behaviour in the future).

Quote:
Instead, a person who does not value honesty is simply a dishonest person. Recognizing that a person is dishonest (for example) will help us navigate our relationship/interactions with that person.


Going up to what I said about “good” and “bad” people....what I would say here (and this gets complicated is) such an independent entity as a “person” or a “dishonest person” can’t be found. You are just action, manifesting in the present moment. Someone who doesn’t value honesty, still has the capability to be honest and likely still is at times...it’s highly unlikely that someone (even compulsive liars or psychopaths) are dishonest ALL the time. Really, a “dishonest person” is just someone who is dishonest more often than not, therefore can’t be trusted (and justifiably so). If some is a liar, then that is just due to the causes and conditions that brought them to that point (ie. lying has proven useful for them/they have not faced serious consequences). So I completely agree with the second part.

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When people behaving differently comes up I tell my children, "you don't need to worry about their behavior, you worry about your own." My goal is to help my children focus on becoming who they want to be and teach them to allow others to worry about their own behavior. We're teaching our children that other people can make their own choices, and healthy ways to respond to other's choices when they disagree.


Yup, we are only in control of our actions. However, we can of course (at least very subtly) change other people’s actions as well, through communication, which is also important (when it is appropriate to do so).

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Cause, if you tell someone they are dishonest/unaware, they are not going to smile back at you and say ... "thank you very much for noticing".


Yes, exactly. If you tell someone straight up “you’re a liar”, the chance of that changing their actions is probably much less than more subtle means (like pointing out what they’re doing and what potential harm it could cause, to themselves and others.)
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Of course you could keep your mouth shut and live by your values


Even doing this...would be expressing a certain set of values itself. Non-action is still action; indecision is still a decision.

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and sometimes as much as you try to keep it theoretical and teach them the concepts, they are still bound to "embarrass" you when you go and visit relatives by saying out loud "mommy, uncle is dishonest because he was lying to me ...." and then you turn a bit redish or greenish and you try to navigate through the situation without making collision and heading for disaster ... Isn't it lovely how innocent kids are?


Yes...and I often think how that child-like innocence (and complete candidness) is often ruined by adults (who similarly, had their own innocence ruined for them when they were younger by other adults) based on social “appropriateness” (which can even be the parent’s own selfish desire). For instance, in that case, Uncle might very well be lying to them...yet, we are then taught that “we can’t say that, because it’s rude”, when in actuality, the uncle should probably take a look at their own behaviour and SHOULD be called out. If only more adults were as direct as children with each other, there would be a lot more honest relationships. As Mel said, we are afraid of rejection. Kids don’t have that fear (at least not yet). At its base, it’s about self-protection (as then we think that person may not like us).

One of my favourite quotes on that topic, by the Zen teacher Kodo Sawaki:
“When a child is defiant, the parents curse, ‘You don’t understand anything!’ But what are the parents like? Isn’t it also true that they don’t understand anything either? Everyone is lost in ignorance.”

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I would love to hear opinions about classifying people as fat, ugly, trashy, pretty, sexy, attractive, etc.


The thing to realize here is that none of these distinctions actually exist. They’re all just concepts created in your mind. Consider this: there is no fat without thin, pretty without ugly, trashy without classy, etc. They are all relative distinctions. They are all perceptually based. What is fat to one person could be thin to another. What could be ugly to one person is attractive to others. And so on.

Now, it could very well be true that someone is overweight (at least in comparison to the average of the population) and this very well could be unhealthy. But, this kind of goes back to the "responsibility without blame" concept; there's no point calling such a person "fat". Aside from being judgmental and mean, that can make it even less likely for them to develop the confidence to change themselves for the better, as opposed to positive encouragement (again, focused on what people can do NOW or in the future, rather than focusing on what they didn't do in the past, which can't be changed).

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I think we all look at people and make quick judgements. I'm not a SA, so my quick judgement isn't always about "sexual desirability". Given a dark and stormy night on the street, my quick judgement may be "is this person safe or not."


Yes, same thing I said as above, regarding the survival quality of the discriminating, categorizing quality of our minds. It’s not always a bad thing; just something to increase your awareness over when it's detrimental. As you practice meditation, this happens quite naturally (realizing when it is needed vs. a detriment).

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But, over time, at the end of the project, when they had people rate the attractiveness of others, the ratings really changed. Uniqueness of the individual turned out to be a better predictor of a higher rating. This uniqueness could have been physical (funny smile, crooked tooth) or emotional (they were funny, they were nice). As we get to know people, we change our view on their attractiveness. I know for me that if I like someone over time, I start thinking of them as attractive, even beautiful. And that's the wonder and joy of NOT objectifying people. When we connect to something real, we can experience so much more beauty and joy.


Such a great point. :g:

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It will take practice to learn to express your values and boundaries without fear of rejection.


My suggestion regarding this is that, the less you worry about your self, the less you are afraid of rejection and the more likely you are to do what is right in that moment, rather than concern yourself with “what will happen to me”. This is really what meditation practice is all about...not so much that you’re “trying” to forget your self, but as you practice, you more and more realize that the perception of your self as a distinct entity is an illusion, and that you are connected to everyone and everything. And as this happens, you are more likely to “just act” in regards to what is right in a situation, rather than overthink or become self-conscious, which hinders genuine action.

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Making such snap “judgements” is not the same as being judgemental, as the former arise from unconscious mental shortcuts (heuristics) that we have learned/acquired over the course of our lives.


And I would add, before our lives, in terms of genetically predetermined survival instincts. But I believe even these can be “seen through”, with enough awareness and practice.

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However, if, upon realizing that the person was probably not a danger or threat, you continue to mentally justify yourself by telling yourself all of the reasons that this person might have been a threat


Or that other, similar looking people are also a threat...and again, that’s just your mind attaching to ideas.

The best way of putting it is what meepmeep said:

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Something I have practiced recently is learning to listen to the quietest, stillest part of me when discerning whether something is a concrete, grounded value. Often the noise from my ego, emotions, etc covers up what is the most true thing for me. If I get into the right frame of mine--which for me is one of light, grounding, peace, calm, etc--the answers about what is a value become clear.


Yes, this is actually one and the same with the Zen way of thinking. That quietest, stillest part of you is your true self, your real mind, that intuitive sense of how to act, that is so often clouded over by discriminative thinking, ego-based thinking, yet has been and is always there. As we sit in meditation, our mind clears of our wrong thinking and this part becomes louder and easier to follow, and as such, we increasingly no longer do things that make us suffer. As a famous Zen teacher once said, we slowly “clear away the weeds, to see the flowers that were always there.” :g:

Hope that helps!

Boundless

_________________
"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where do you expect to find it?" - Dogen

"Be a lamp unto yourself." - Buddha

"The obstacle is the path."


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:25 am 
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Partner's Mentor

Joined: Sun Sep 14, 2014 1:34 pm
Posts: 661
Coach B, thank you for the thought provoking post. Ursula, I don't want to hijack your thread, but I am wondering if something else we are discussing here is our emotional reactions and then associated thoughts that follow about our partners' SA. I guess what I am clumsily starting to say is that I do not want us to disallow our uncomfortable emotional reactions to our partners behavior if we label them as "bad" or "judgemental". And this gets really dicey in that my emotional reactions and thoughts about them can start to slip into dehumanization of my partner. It is essential for me to see him beyond his addictive behaviors and, frankly, that sometimes is a challenge.

For me, I have to try to keep my compassion for my partner and for me (this second part is critical) at the front of my mind. I do see my partner's SA as having been created by a traumatic childhood. I do see his intimacy disorder as a result of childhood trauma. Got that. Good at that. I also see my putting up with his abuse (okay---let's look at that line. Was some of his behavior towards me abusive? Yes. Does that say he is a bad person? No. Does that mean it is okay for me to be hurt? Yes. Am I bad or weak for feeling hurt? No.) as a result of MY childhood trauma. And, as Coach B says, in this case my family of origin were limited people who could not behave in a loving and appropriate way as parents. They were cruel and thoughtless. Were they bad people? No. Were they cruel and destructive due to their own limitations? Yes. Do I hold them responsible for their traumatic treatment of me? Yes. And, I must hold them responsible in order to release me from taking on self blame, guilt and shame for my own childhood abuse.

So, let's get back to some of my emotional reactions to my husband's SA behaviors. We could label them as "bad" emotional reactions. Here they are (and remember, these are SOME of my reactions): disgust, revulsion, horror, repulsion, contempt, fear, betrayal, shame. Now there's a handful of hard stuff. How easy it is for me to feel these intense difficult emotions and slip into blame and dehumanization. But, I honor these emotional responses. I feel them because his behaviors (and distorted thinking which I see as a type of behavior) violate my values. He has hurt me. These are legitimate, human emotional reponses. I am not bad for feeling them. And I do see that my husband is not a bad person at the core but his addiction results in destructive choices that have traumatic impacts on him and me. I do not want any of us to label our legitimate emotional reactions as bad or judgemental. I do know that I need to make sure that I do not use those reactions to dehumanize my husband or to justify my abuse of him.

Finally, if my husband reads this post he will be devastated. I think I am better at separating his addiction from his core than he is at this point in his recovery work. I think the tremendous shame he has carried with him his whole life that was created in childhood, which was soothed by the development of his addiction, but was amplified by his addiction, makes it so hard to separate his addictive behaviors from his core self (constantly changing core, yes, but to date, a core that was strangled and stunted by his shame).

I guess I just want to say that I am not judging myself in a harsh way for the intense emotions I have felt.

dnell


Last edited by dnell on Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:45 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 06, 2015 9:38 am 
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Thank you, dear all, for this thread, and Coach Boundless, for your input. It is so helpful.


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