One of my intentions for 2018 is to read a book a week. I’ve got four under my belt and three in progress. I know you busy moms are like, how on EARTH?
Yeah, being an empty nester has a few tiny perks. Also, I use multiple methods—Audible, Kindle, actual. But it’s true what they say…days go slow and years go fast. Books do not outweigh the gaping hole I sometimes feel with no one complaining about what I made for dinner.
Books come to me to be read in all different ways and I am learning to trust that I don’t need to go find the books…they’ll find me. So it was with 'Judgment Detox', Gabrielle Bernstein’s newest book. When she was marketing it I pre-ordered it because the pre-order came with a free virtual event, but I didn’t think I needed to read a book on judgment. Because, you know, I’m not judgmental. I hope you are not drinking coffee as you read that line, as you’ll probably snort at your screen.
That’s right…I just wrote that sentence. I did not see myself as judgmental when I was ordering that book. Ironically, I was right in the middle of a very judge-y experience at that time. Can you say blind spot?
In November I had an issue with one of my daughters. I judged her. Once I put that comfy suit of judgment on, I stepped right into its accompanying emotions—righteousness and fixing energy. Control, basically. Then I felt stuck. Like I’d walked straight into a corner. I could see the pattern, but I was already in too deep. Plus, I was right…right?
I hurt her feelings. It did not matter if I was ‘right’. (I wasn’t.) Because I stepped right on her tender evolving self. I endured a heartbreaking week of silence, then we got on the phone. She unleashed a torrent of anger. It was clear that she had misinterpreted something I’d said. Words that I’d intended to offer as elucidating were taken as dismissive. She was so far down the rabbit hole of what she thought I’d meant that there was no opportunity for me to own what I actually had meant, which in and of itself was judgmental. What I’d ‘meant’ did not matter. I had to eat crow. And while I was doing so on the phone I was engaged in silent judgment. If she could only get out of her ego for a few minutes and consider listening to me, she’d be able to hear that I’d meant something totally different than what she heard.
I felt horrible.
My girls are brutal with me when I screw up. There is no sugar coating, and it is not an even playing field. I have to do better than they do; it’s simply expected. Lowering myself to the level of judgment and being caught at it was depleting, and a wake-up call. I was reminded of a part of my relationship with my own mother that I really did not like.
I looked right at how I felt justified in my judgment. I thought about situations where I felt judged. Where I feel judged now. Yogi Bhajan says, ‘Recognize the other is you.’ Judgment removes me from feeling connected and puts me right into someone else’s lane of traffic, without their navigation system.
As I read Gabrielle’s book, I felt humbled by her submission to her own self-designed process. An author and spiritual teacher, she holds herself accountable to the lessons she shares: “While this is often uncomfortable because it feels like I’m always working on myself, it’s also deeply rewarding.” She surrenders her judgment and lives the steps of her process and has found great lightness and joy through living her work.
Life is always presenting lessons to us in gentle and sophisticated ways. Life has a wicked sense of humor. I bought the book for the workshop. Then I learned why I really bought the book.
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