Transforming Fear to Joy

Products of Judgment: Pain Avoidance and Pleasure Seeking

When I was in my 30s, less certain that Life would always come through for me, I made a bargain with her by stating, “If you knock twice on my ‘awareness’ door, I will attend and act.”  In essence, if I was deliberating on some action to take in my life, but unclear about direction and Life provided me with two ‘signals’ (seeming coincidences), I committed to taking the direction.  That bargain never failed me, and more importantly, it gave me time to practice trusting Life and myself.

The past two weeks rekindled this trust practice for me.  One of my limiting patterns in my youth formed around my belief that self-worth was determined in the eyes of others, which does not build trust in self or Life.  The relentless pursuit to be deemed worthy entrapped me for many years in the vicious cycle of others’ judgments, which is essentially self-judgment.  Was I good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, creative enough?  On a very concrete level, worthiness judgments often occur around how much money we make.  If we create millions of dollars, it typically affords us celebrity status, which we then internalize to mean we are worthwhile.  If we collect coins in a cup from passersby on the street, it elicits pity or disdain, which we might discern as unworthiness.

When we allow judgment to influence our experiences, we are not discerning between truth and illusion.  Judgments are the illusions of a defense mechanism wanting to avoid pain and instead seek pleasure.  They are our defensive reactions projecting responsibility for our suffering or joy onto others.  The truth is that we are all equally worthy and no one, other than ourselves, creates our inner experience.  The trick is to be aware that identifying our inner experience or something or someone as bad or hurtful is a judgment and not the truth.

“We are 100% responsible for our thoughts, feelings and actions . . .”

Similarly so is the case with pleasure.  We find ourselves reasoning (judging) we feel good because of the gift John gave us or the compliment Jan bestowed.  What we forget is no external person or thing causes our thoughts, feelings or deeds.  We choose (consciously or unconsciously) to think, feel or act.  Because this is difficult for some to understand or admit, I am going to repeat it—We are 100% responsible for our thoughts, feelings and actions, and it is our attachment to judgment that has us seeking pleasure or avoiding pain.  Dropping this pursuit of pleasure and avoidance of pain, are the first steps in relinquishing judgment and creating the practice of self-compassion, which in itself is an act of trust.  By choosing compassion—non-judgment, unconditional love—instead of judgment, we are trusting that, in this moment, we are each doing the best we can.

So here I am revisiting my ability to fully trust Life and myself.  Meditation surfaced a deeper layer to this limiting pattern of mistrust and judgment; my present moment awareness or living in the here and now (not in the past or in the future) is my safeguard for survival and self-actualizing.  More tangibly stated, to be present moment-to-moment, I am required to let go of desire and ambition.  Instead, living each moment conscious of who I am provides me with all I require.

I tried to capture this truth in a poem written during a Relax & Recharge awareness session.  In the next few weeks, we will begin to offer an on-line version of this program.  I hope to meet you there.