Key 3: De-Energize Your Judgements
De-Energizing Your Judgements...let me say it up front...no event, person or situation is either good or bad...it simply is.
So what is driving our judgements? It is our thinking patterns...or thinking maps.
In other words, it is not the events in our lives that make us sad, frustrated, excited or angry. It is the way we think about these events.
Let me explain...
An Event Happen and it all Unfolds...
Events are things that get our attention. A mosquito biting you is an event. Winning the lottery is an event. Your spouse packing up and leaving is an event. Promotions, layoffs and an upset client on the phone are all events. Even death is an event.
One thing we have to remember is that you can’t control the events that are happening in your life. Like they say...stuff happens.
We interpret and throw judgements on events based on our points of view, attitudes, opinions, beliefs, perceptions and assumptions, past experiences, memories and generalizations. All these shape our thinking maps and how we judge events on our scale from one to ten or one to hundred or one to what whatever number.
Based on our interpretations, we experience a certain emotion.
Depending on that emotion, we behave in a certain way.
And how we behave sometimes influences whether or not we produce the results we want.
Let me use an example...
|Let’s say you are driving on the highway to an important meeting. All of a sudden you hit a traffic jam and there you sit.|
Now you start worrying about being late for the meeting and you become all tensed up. To top it all, you look in the rear view mirror and you see a car driving on the shoulder of the road.
Just as it's about to pass you, the driver see a traffic cop and try to push in, in front of you and give your car a tiny scratch in the process.
Now just take a couple of seconds to think what your typical emotions and behaviour would be in this situation.
I know there are exceptions, but most people will experience frustration and anger and become confrontational.
Let’s say you do get out of your car and just as you are about to confront the other driver, he walks up to you and say “I am so terribly sorry. My 2 year old son is lying in the back seat of my car. He had an asthma attack and I need to get him to the hospital. My thoughts weren’t on the road.”
Think again what your emotions and behaviour would be now.
What happened here? In the first instance you’ve experienced emotions based on how you interpret the event based on your judgements. Your interpretation and judgements of somebody driving like that was probably not positive.
Then you got ready to react on those emotions.
When the person apologized and told his story, you changed your interpretation and judgements of the event...and with it, your emotions probably changed as well.
Nothing in that particular event changed. It was only your interpretations and judgements that changed. By default you changed from negative thinking to positive thinking.
The bottom Line
|The really important stuff is how we respond to the events in our lives. The events are not really that important...no event is either good or bad...it simply is.|
What greatly influence how we respond to events, are our emotions...and our emotions are driven by our thinking maps; how we interpret and judge the event. If we can stop those labeling of events, situations and people, then we will become open to what can come out of any given situation.
The Power of our Thinking Maps
Our thinking maps are our assumptions, beliefs, judgements and generalizations about ourselves, the world and how it all fits together.
The function of road maps is to act as a guide as we go from point A to point B. Our internal thinking maps function in the same way, as guides to help us get through specific situations and life in general.
Important Points about Thinking Maps
Firstly, thinking maps is not a good or a bad thing. It’s just the way our brain is wired.
Without the ability to generalize, to make assumptions, to connect the dots as it were, our ancestors would never have been successful in passing our genes. (Here comes a leopard. Are we sure it is a leopard? Just because it looks like a leopard...stuff that, lets run)
Without thinking maps, we would have trouble getting out of bed every morning.
We’d have to think about every little thing.
|So, we make assumptions. We make stuff up. And that is my second important point about thinking maps. Where do they come from?|
We make them up...In fact; we all graduated from MSU, the University of making stuff up. We are incredibly skilled to go from one or two pieces of information to "this is how things are!"
Fortunately we are usually close enough to the mark to get along in this world. But quite often our maps are really inaccurate and yet they are running unchallenged in our thinking. We don't think how we think. If we do it, we will stop our judgements.The most important way to think about maps is in terms of accuracy and completeness. Some of our judgements and maps we hold are wildly inaccurate and incomplete.
Other maps are very close to accurate and complete.
So the key question to ponder is: Are your judgements and thinking maps inaccurate and incomplete? Or have they been updated, researched and challenged and are therefore highly accurate?
Interpretations and Judgements
We hold maps of the world, of ourselves and how everything works and fit together.
Our Judgements are often difficult to get at. They are often unconscious assumptions. We don’t often realize what we are thinking.
Our interpretations that we make up and judge based on our maps are often right there in front of us; in our self-talk...what we are constantly saying to ourselves.
Let me illustrate further by using two examples of the power of thoughts and emotion
|Let’s say you hold a map that says “people can’t be trusted until they prove they can be”|
Now an event happens. You are left of a list for an off site staff meeting.
Based on your map and judgements, your immediate gut interpretation - with no further evidence needed - is that they meant to do it. It is a conspiracy to drive you out of the company. All those people have been after you since the beginning! And they think you are paranoid? You’ll show them paranoid! And so on and so on...
Granted, it is possible that is a conspiracy. But are there (just possibly) other interpretations of why your name was left of the list? Maybe just an oversight? Is the meeting about a project you’re not involved in? A typo?
|Let’s say you hold the thinking map “I am my job” (Much like the map “I am my car”)|
You are a Vice President, a Nurse, a Pilot, a Shop Foreman. That is your map and judgement of who you are.
Then along comes the event of being fired. How do you interpret the event? What meaning do you make out of getting fired? “I’m nothing. I’m worthless. My life is over. My life is a joke.
Of course, being fired can be a serious traumatic event. But the key question remains: Are there other judgements of the situation? Is there another way of thinking about the event of getting fired?
- It’s just a job. I will find another.
- I was becoming too much of a workaholic, this is a good wake-up call.
- Now I can explore other opportunities.
- It’s really an inconvenience, we will miss the money, but I have lots of other stuff going on in my life.
The point is that events don’t carry any meaning. We assigned meaning based on our judgements and thinking maps...both the ones we have "made up" as individuals and the ones we have 'made up" as cultures.
Change your judgements; change how you respond and bang...you will open yourself up to all the possibilities that can come out of the situation.
Famous Incomplete and Inaccurate Judgements
|“THERE ARE NO LIKELIHOOD THAT MAN CAN EVER TAP THE POWER OF THE ATOM”|
Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize Physics, 1923
“HEAVIER THAN AIR FLYING MACHINES ARE IMPOSSIBLE”
Lord Kelvin, President, Royal Society, 1835
“EVERYTHING THAT CAN BE INVENTED HAS ALREADY BEEN INVENTED”
Charles Duell, Director of the U.S. Patent Office, 1899
“SENSIBLE AND RESPONSIBLE WOMEN DO NOT WANT TO VOTE”
Grover Cleveland, President of the U.S., 1905
“WHO THE HELL WANT TO SEE ACTORS TALK”
Harry Warner, Warner Brother Pictures, 1927
All of the above were people in positions of power and influence. As a result of their labeling of situations, what are some of the interpretations they came up with? How were they responding to events?
Are you right now holding similar, wildly inaccurate and incomplete judgements?
How Do We De-Energize Our Judgements
Ask yourself the following questions...that will point you in the right direction:
- Which of your current situation do you judge as bad?
- What can you appreciate or have gratitude for about your current situation?
- Know That EVERY situation already contains the good seeds in it...you just need to be open enough to see it.
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