I thought a lot about recently judging my acquaintance, whom I had allowed to smoke marijuana in my kitchen rather than making them go outdoors; they wouldn’t conform to my idealized notions about blowing their smoke directly out the window, and my apartment reeked of cannabis smoke. After deciding that it was actually all my …
" /> Jason Holborn | Cybercarnet/Weblog - Judge Jason Weighs Positive Thinking Versus Negative Thinking

Judge Jason Weighs Positive Thinking Versus Negative Thinking

I thought a lot about recently judging my acquaintance, whom I had allowed to smoke marijuana in my kitchen rather than making them go outdoors; they wouldn’t conform to my idealized notions about blowing their smoke directly out the window, and my apartment reeked of cannabis smoke. After deciding that it was actually all my fault (for not setting better boundaries, and for being too meek to stand up for them), and deciding that Hey, it was a privilege to assist a stressed-out parent cope with the working world after office hours on a no-custody day, I continued to mull over judgment.

Honestly Reader, I am confused. And also very stuck.

How many times have I said that positive thinking is the way? How many times have I told myself, I must stop judging!,? How many times have I judged others for extreme negativity? And how many times have I still caught myself in negative judgment?

My confusion is in dealing or coping with negative thoughts. I don’t believe that anyone can realistically live without them. Did Mohandas Gandhi? Or MLK, or Nelson Mandela, or Dale Carnegie, or Confucius, or Jesus, or Buddha? I’m not convinced they did. I suspect Gandhi arrived at his positive, peaceful thinking by working thru negative thoughts, more rapidly than I can (yet!).

Once, my friend Adam challenged me to only say positive things for one week; it was a personal challenge for himself, and he wanted me in on it. I agreed! We couldn’t do it, tho. To be brutally honest, tho it pains me to recount this, we within days ended up making fake-positive statements that were really in truth negative.

I thought about that challenge from Adam a lot after that evening with my friend rolling film noir-esque cannabis smoke around my apartment.

I can’t stop or help negative thoughts. I want to have a positive expression yet I need to work thru negative or judgmental opinions first. And I feel like voicing these negative, angry, judgmental frustrations gets them out there, into the daylight and the open. We’re encouraged to NOT bottle up our negativity, lest it explode or overtake us.

And, I feel it is phony, and false, and a lie to pretend that everything is positive when I don’t feel that way.

I was able to arrive at an acceptance of that evening: I had helped a friend who mourns having only part-time child custody, which was positive, and I had learned that I need to set better boundaries and work on voicing my concerns rather than stifling negativity, which was a positive realization.

Yet, I was only to get to that acceptance BECAUSE I initially went crazy with negative judgement and frustration and anger.

If there is a human way to observe a person actively flaunting your house rules and be positive about it, in that moment, then Reader, I confess: I just don’t know that way. Teach it to me, Universe!

I’ve considered taking a vow to only say positive things, altho I remember too well that I couldn’t make it even a week last time. What would be different this time?

I’ve been struggling with these negative judgments for a long while. I used to work with a server who had no home, and who would find a friend whose couch he could crash on until he was no longer welcome, and then, for months at a time, he would spend, literally, all of his day’s wages on drinks and then save his last $20 for a room at a men’s bathhouse where he would have (he claimed) a great deal of unsafe, unprotected encounters, sleep, and then wake up and do it all over again. Now, many people would say, “But Jase, that’s a fine person to judge! He had no future! And probably a dozen serious STI’s!” Ah, but he was happy, Reader. And he lived for the day! How many people really seize the day? You can’t take it with you; at least he wasn’t going to ever be hit by a car and die thinking, “Damn those thousands in the bank I never spent!” That is impressive. It’s worth noting, and remarking positively upon. He was a different animal in the ecosystem, that’s all. His life-force expressed itself in different ways, that’s all.

I would really like to be the kind of person who thought that way all the time! I would very much love to be the person who responded to other staff with, “At least he seizes the day!”

Why didn’t I?

Why is it so hard for me in the moment?

Believe me, I was hard in my judgments of that guy. What an idiot! A freeloader and a user! He didn’t take life seriously! He was a drug addict and a drunk! He didn’t care for his health!

I looked down on him. Just like I looked down on my friend for spreading the scent of burning marijuana all around my apartment.

Today, I don’t feel judgmental of those people at all. Not one bit. But in the moment, I absolutely, 100% did.

And I’m sure that tomorrow, or next evening, or next Thursday, I will fall into the same trap of judging all over again. What gives?

People say we judge to protect our egos.

Do we???

I mean, I saved hard and was extremely responsible with my money, and never freeloaded, and had my life together when I was judging that guy for living his preferred lifestyle. I would love to share a j with someone, and if I am ever asked to be cautious, I would be the first to say, “Heck, let’s just go outside, I’m not concerned as long as we’re discrete.”

How is my ego being protected by judging these people’s actions?

I’m not rejecting the idea of ego-protection; I’m just asking, and wondering, and seeking a more refined definition.

I do have a fragile ego; I’m terrified that no one will ever like me, that no one will ever want to hear my sob story about death and suicide and career setbacks, that I’m a failure and a fool, that I’m a judgmental jerk, that I can never learn how to properly start a fire, or really perfect my skills in French. I have a very fragile ego. When I hear an angry shout behind me, my pulse goes thru the roof, my breath catches, my throat constricts. I panic. Even before I know if I’m the one being yelled at. I have a fragile ego.

So, is judging others for flaunting my house rules or for their carefree lifestyle of debauchery just a compensation for that fragile ego? Maybe the judgment doesn’t need to be related, or reflected, necessarily. Maybe judging that co-worker for his nightlifestyle boosted my fragile ego, regardless of my own apartment lease, my own account balance, my own teetotaling. Perhaps judging him on anything, related or not to me, boosts my ego. Maybe it doesn’t matter WHAT we are judging, so long as we are simply judging. Maybe that’s what ego cares about.

I don’t know. But maybe.

After all the hours I’ve put into absorbing books and essays and articles and ideas and insights into judgment versus acceptance, I still fall into that trap.

I feel I am being honest with myself when I say, and type, that I genuinely want to be the kind of accepting person who responds, “Hey, at least that person is seizing the day!” when others chide, “Oh look, here comes someone from a rough night of living pennilessly again!”. I do, sincerely. I admire people who accept everything without a personal judgment — and I always have. For as long as I can remember, these acceptors have impressed me with their acceptance.

I’ve tried to absorb their lessons.

Once, in a rented car on a winding highway to the forest, we were passed by a very reckless driver. Our driver, Vicki, swore at that recklessness. This amazingly cool guy, totally relaxed, said, “Yeah that guy’s an idiot. But you never know why he’s driving like that.” Did I remember that? Not only is that account word-for-word, not only do I still recall his voice, but I actually repeated those words just last year to my nephews, after we were passed by a reckless driver. They immediately tensed up in dismay, upset and critical. I said those magic words, “Yeah, that guy is driving like a fool. Still, you never know why he’s driving that way.” Both Bailey and Braydon exchanged glances, impressed. They looked back at me in the rear seat. “That’s true!” they exclaimed. Oh, they probably thought I was sooo amazingly cool, and totally chill. (If only they knew.)

I absorb these lessons.

Yet some things still really drive me into a flurry of critical, negative judgment.

I don’t know if I can realistically vow to never be negative or judgmental again. I don’t know if I can actually never let a critical judgment pass thru my lips again. I want to. I do. I would LOVE to be that person. I admire Lawrence Rutherford for never, ever dissing other people. I admire coolly-emotioned, chill people.

I don’t know.

I do know I’d potentially be saving other time, i.e. the time I spend dissing others. There’s these two old guys at the coffeeshop across the street who talk conspiracy theories. I mean, like, just flat-out ridiculous conspiracy theories, about mining gold from the lunar surface and catapulting it to the Earth at night. That’s not even a useful conspiracy theory! If I want to go read a book over a tea, I have to (literally) pack ear plugs and headphones with cranked classical music. I have enjoyed sharing critical comments about these guys with others, behind their backs. How horrible that is; it’s awful that we “enjoy” dissing others, and it’s horrible that I don’t do it to their faces. And yet, I don’t want to hurt them. Their conversation can irritate and frustrate and distract me, yet I’m sure they are very nice. I don’t want to “confront” them or blast them. Hurting them, or even making them “stop”, isn’t my goal. I just want to read a book peacefully without being distracted. It’s become normal for others to look up when they depart, and comment on their rambling rants. It’s become normal to look up and judge them. It can be a five minute interruption around the café sometimes.

There’s five minutes I could save. Five minutes I could zealously guard, and protect, and bank and invest.

My question to myself is HOW I can simply stop thinking (and thereby needing to express) negative thoughts of judgment. How can I simply roll my eyes and smile, and go back to my book?

Team, I think I approached Adam’s challenge without proper preparation. I know as well as you do the old proverb about not saying anything at all if you’re not saying something nice. Really, our whole world has struggled with this same issue I’m having, and obviously, for a long, long time.

So often, I’ve actually and literally given up on that saying. So often, I’ve said to myself, “Look, I just NEED to let this negative, un-nice thought out! Right now, I CAN’T think of anything nice to say!”

And, speaking to that point, I’ve tried saying “something nice” before, in situations where it became obvious that I was just only saying “something nice”. What did I think of the play? Well, I really liked the set construction and the lighting changes. It’s apparent to others, then, that I didn’t like the play.

What else could I say? “I’m still thinking about it. I’m definitely still thinking about it.” That at least gives the impression that the play made me think (which, as Henry Kissinger would say, has the added virtue of being totally true).

One thing which has many times helped me is this one: “There but for the grace of god go I”. Altho, perhaps bizarrely, I have an easier time saying this about child molesters and murderers and tyrants than I do about the person who takes pain to insult and humiliate me in front of a crowd (which can happen quite frequently, in the right circumstances). And yet, I ought to still be able to think that thought — because I could just as easily be the person who is so sad, so frustrated with the world, so wound-up, so stressed and overloaded, that I need to scorn and lash out at a stranger in front of a bunch of people. There but for the grace of god go I.

I know it’s better to say nothing than to say something unkind. I know speaking unkindness spreads unkindness memes. How do I get trapped into that cycle, then, if I know the truth? We are slaves to emotion, and chemistry.

I want to let no negativity pass my lips. Yet, I have no interest in “bottling up” anger or hurt or sadness until it overwhelms me. I’ve done that in life, over and over and over. It’s better to be seen as generally negative than to suddenly be overwhelmed by accumulated thoughts and break down. This memorably happened to me as a child (and at other times, too) and I don’t see it as healthy.

What is a healthy way to cope with or process negative feelings without speaking them aloud?

There’s the solution I will have to find.

I first heard this idea from Wayne Dyer; I don’t know its origin…