Friday, March 21, 2008

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Judging Others

On-line Weekend Al-Anon Meeting on; Judging Others
If you have found this website you are invited to join us in a weekend long, Al-Anon Meeting.

The on-line meeting starts Friday evening 3/21/08 and runs to Sunday 3/23/08 evening.

Note: To view this post and the comments at the same time, click on the link here (click here) in order to get a better view.

I have come to learn that "judging others" can be a slippery slope. As soon as we become an expert, we start to set standards for how others should act. When they don't comply to our standards, we are insulted or feel wronged.

I have posted the message below which will start our meeting on: "Judging Others"

Judging Others. We all do it. We size people up every day. We evaluate people's behavior in the work place and at home. We evaluate others' driving ability. We even evaluate what people eat.

We are always "sizing them up."

Now, this may sound contradictory, because nothing is ever just "black and white." Sometimes there are standards which we should enforce, especially with children. Or in situations when someone has over stepped there boundaries and is inflicting their will on you.

Good or Bad
The judging I am talking about is the evaluation of others behavior as "good" or "bad." What if we could suspend the judgement of others? And not evaluate them as "good" or "bad" and just as "is."

If you look at the chart below, I have created a pretty simple graphic. If we judge others, we go to comparing ourselves to them. How often have you said, aloud or internally, "I would never have done that?" Or, when listening, leap to the wrong conclusion by assuming the person was going to say something negative.

And worse, when you thought someone was going to say something negative about you? We've all held our breath when someone wanted to share their opinion or provide us feedback.

The Slippery Slope Down
I believe it is a slippery slope. As soon as we start to evaluate or judge, we compare them to what we have, or would do. We usually make the situation worse. We slip into blaming, criticizing and getting angry. We hold resentments and grudges. All this - when in reality - it started with us and our thoughts of "good" vs "bad" or "better" or "worse."

To view this diagram better - click here

The Other Side - Climbing Upward
On the flip side - the bottom part of the diagram, is the opposite of judging. And this is a compassion for others and empathizing with what they may be going through. I believe everyone is carrying a burden of sorts. And if we stick with the thought of being compassionate, even in times of stress and hostility by showing the other person love, respect and courtesy we are allowing ourselves to be of "grace."

What a wonderful word, this "grace." Balance and poise. Dignity. Staying above the fray. In the end, this is actually about Courage. Courage to be yourself - your highest self.

The Negative Side
The top part of the diagram, works on our self-esteem, negatively. Which in turn affects our self-acceptance -negatively. And ultimately we begin to not accept ourselves - or said another way, we begin to find fault within us and we no longer like ourselves.

We become less accepting and loving of ourselves overtime. And soon we have resentment built up and hostility. Soon we can't sleep. We react. We respond. And nothing seems to work right or go right in our world.

The Positive Side
The bottom side of the diagram, works on our self-acceptance, positively. And this begins to affect our self-esteem - positively.

Because of years of training, it is hard to get to the positive side and stay there. It is hard to build up positive habit patterns of responding with Courage, Compassion, and Courtesy. These are my 3 C's. They lead to Grace. And Self-Respect.

When we operate from here our lives are more manageable. We are in control. A really good word when we apply it to our own lives. A really bad word when we are applying it toward others.

And that is where the line with the arrows pointing both north and south on the right hand side of the diagram comes in.

Isn't evaluating and judging, really about us getting control over others to become more like we want them to be?

Isn't that crazy when you think about it? Would you really want to have someone trying to be just like you? Really? Wouldn't it make you mad? They would be stealing only the good parts of your identity. That would make you "less."

What if we suspended judgment today and tomorrow? And let others, be themselves. I think this is real courage. I think we should encourage others to be more themselves and less like us. I believe this leads to serenity and peace.

Can we remove guilt, anger, blame and negative emotions from our lives whereever we can?
This is where you share your thoughts, comments, or burning issues. Have a great weekend.

Material derived from the Al-Anon book, "The Courage to Change" and "Hope for Today"


Anonymous said...

I notice that when I get angry I am usually blaming someone about something. As I read this article I see that I am trying to find fault in someone or someone outside myself.

I think if I understand this article, I see myself trying to control the uncontrollable. And if I can give up parts of this and just let go and worry about myself and my actions, then I can gain more peace.

Where I fall apart is when the alcoholic is arguing or not doing what he can do.

Maybe I can bring some peace into my life by trying to stop finding fault with everyone. And just let them be them.


Anonymous said...

This is definitely an area in my life that needs work. At my job, my perfectionism and compulsion to fix things caused me to become completely strung out and exhausted. At that point, I realized I had to stop taking on everyone's responsibilities as my own. This was a good thing.

Now I face the second half of the transition,as I see it: to stop judging. I've stopped trying to fix things, but I haven't quit seeing the imperfections as needing fixing.

Exhaustion has brought me to the point where I am seriously lacking compassion, and like K. I experience a lot of anger.

I am trying to figure out how to remedy that mental/spiritual/emotional exhaustion, because the times when I do feel rested and energetic are when I'm most able to be compassionate toward others.

I see this transition as the swing of a pendulum. I was at one extreme (trying to fix everyone) and then in reaction/rebellion swung to the other end (*%*$! all of you, you're on your own). Now I'm trying to reach the happy medium.


Anonymous said...

Judgment is the reason I am a member of Al Anon today. When things were getting really crazy recently and my resentment and anger starting coming out regularly around the alcoholic in my life, I was complaining bitterly to a mutual friend and she looked at me and said, "Well, don't judge her."

That conversation stayed with me. I never used to judge people like this. What had happened to me? Thankfully, I realized I had to change.

I was just so tired of dealing with it all. She's been my best friend since high school (and that was a long time ago.) The fact that somewhere along the way I had become angry, resentful, and, judgmental, actually helped me turn my life around.

I had hit rock bottom as an enabler and I am grateful someone was put into my path to shake me awake from the nightmare I'd been living in for so long. She woke me up with those four little words..."well don't judge her."

Since then, I've joined Al Anon and educated myself on the disease. I feel strange with all this new knowledge about my role as enabler and my friend's battle against such a deceptive disease. I am now working on my own recovery. I have a long road ahead. Let it begin with me.

From one grateful Al Anon member who is striving to get and be better,


Anonymous said...

Good topic for the weekend. I spoke about this to shall pass. First off i want to say today i judged my qualifier I literally accused him of taking money. He helped me search for it and knew he was being accused and of course was mad.
I have to say all the other times he has taken my medicine flatly denying it. Yet he did admit one time he took a few pills of mine after he picked him up from the pharmacy. Flatly denied it and literally did take them
When living with an alcholic you do judge and sometimes very harshly It is because they cant be trusted Bottom line. I dont want to judge him I reconize he has a disease but is it right to accept unacceptable behavior Absolutely not. Besides they are very good at judging us and we in Alanon are suppose to take it I think not
I look at it this way Our Judge is our higher power and in the end he will be the one that sees what truly is going on. SO I am keeping my peace and i wont allow someone like the alcholic take my joy.

Joe said...

A couple of clarifications about this Post - on "Judging Others"

While the word "Others" is in the subject line, I want to be clear; the focus of this post is really about us.

Here is what I am trying to say:

When we think someone or something is doing something to us, we blame. Blame has a nasty boomerang effect - at least to me. I can slip down to anger or resentment, because of my thoughts of "someone did something to me."

Anger can be good IF it can motivate us to take positive action (i.e. Do a better job next time at work, Not allow someone to say or do something that hurt us).

But for the most part, anger is a very negative emotion. Resentment is anger sitting within us over a period of time. Both anger and resentment destroy us from within.

Another by-product of blame is guilt(i.e. we feel guilty about some action we made when we were angry. Guiilt is a negative emotion too. We need to eliminate guilt. (Some will say, "Eliminate guilt? Should I feel some guilt?" This is really feeling guilty about eliminating - guilt!!)

When Judging Others the boomerang is anger, guilt, worry. These rob us of our self-esteem. Not at first. But over time.

Does this make sense?

There may be some of us who read these weekend's post about judging and then feeling guilty about judging. Please don't feel guilty. We are only human. We make mistakes. Often we beat ourselves up, which again robs us of our self-esteem.

AGAIN: We are only human. We are perfect in that a HP created us. What we DO sometimes is NOT perfect. Separate the performance from the person. Ease up on yourself.

We can ease up on us; by not judging others. It is a purely "positive selfish act."

Last: In our "disease," we are operating somewhere between 20% to 70%. Our mind, our emotions and our body is damaged. We need to get back to 90-100% Al-Anon, reading, getting around "normal" people, doing things for ourselves is CRITICAL. Not judging others, allows us to get there too.

Ease up on ourselves is my message.

PS - I missed a couple of comments that I did not respond to.

Greetings to South Africa Al-Anon

Joe said...

Sue - thanks for your comment on the blog (new link for new comers) on the righthand side of this blog.

You are not "intruding." As part of our "disease" or "illness" we are made to feel like we should not "bother" people. We may feel like no one needs "our burdens."

So, we can become isolated. We can become lonely. We can become depressed. And we slowly spiral out of control. We become hurt, angry and react. Our reactions are borne out of frustration, pain, and resentment.

You are not alone. Join us and share. Thru sharing you learn. The more we have people share, the more we all learn. There are no right and wrong answers. Thru Al-Anon literature and discussions, can we begin to heal.


Catherine said...

For me the connection between judging and compassion is important. I can't always relate to what someone else is doing, but often I can relate to the emotions that make them do it. Bad behavior is a weakness and we all have them. For example, my normal thought process might be "Why is she being so rude to me in front of everyone -- what an asshole!" But if I go in from a compassionate angle, I end up cutting off that last part. "Why is she being so rude? Maybe she's nervous in this group." It's not really a great position to muck around inside someone's head and speculate about their thnking, but it does inspire a bit of empathy that, for me, goes a long way.

Now, as Joe points out, being fair and balanced with yourself is tough. I realized that I often call myself stupid, as in "what a stupid thing to say..." and I'm working to scratch this and other self-deprecation from my vocabulary -- and even from my internal dialog.

Meetings help because I hear from other people in situations similar to mine and the compassion that I feel for them is very real. The compassion they offer me is real. They don't judge me. They're giving me a break for having these character defects and from them I can learn to also give myself a break.

Last, I like that the AlAnon tradition of anonymity helps foster a non-judgmental vibe. I have no idea if my meeting is full of hindu hot-tub salesmen or jewish cops. It doesn't matter because we're all focused, together, on more important things.

Syd said...

I have gotten through judging others but it doesn't mean that I can't generate a resentment with the best of them! I like the idea of just accepting others as they are. Although I am learning that I don't have to put up with unacceptable behavior.

Anonymous said...

My daughter has 3 children and is currently going through a divorce. For the past several months, she has consistently attended 3 Alanon meetings a week, which also includes a ’social time’ after each meeting, and which causes her to get home after midnight every time she attends a meeting.

She says she is taking care of herself by doing this, but she has only become increasingly self-destructive. Despite the fact that she just filed for divorce a few weeks ago, she is already involved with a man from the group, and she has become extremely less functional as time has passed.

Most distressing is that the amount of time she is away from her children is starting to effect them, especially during this most difficult time of adjustment and transition. She is also a full-time student, and the children spend 1 night / week with their father. They are ages 6, 3, and 20 months.

Any advice for a deeply concerned grandmother?