I’ve been reading Shirzad Chamine‘s Positive Intelligence. This has shone a huge light on what I’ve previously written about as the inner critic. As Shirzad posits, everyone has a group of saboteurs and the one everyone has is in common is The Judge. Basically, we are all running around with a Judge in our head who is constantly pointing out where we are falling short. So my pants are too tight because I am lazy and fat. I didn’t get that spectacular job because I’m not good enough. Suzy just walked by my office without saying hello because of something I did. Hmmm. I wonder what I did. She thinks I’m inadequate, she thinks I’m too bossy, she thinks I’m ugly. If this sounds like the ticker tape in your head then you have a Judge as well.
I find it remarkable that Shirzad stepped out on a limb and pointed out to a group of grad students that he felt inadequate and that they all concurred. How vulnerable. Well, I have to say I’ve been listening to my Judge for far too long. It’s useless and debilitating. It can and has brought me to a standstill. This particular saboteur is constantly holding me back and all the while, I am actually free to choose if I want to listen to it or not. I find that not only am I judging myself, but I am judging circumstances and others as well. So it’s raining in beautiful San Antonio because it’s just my luck. The water dispenser is out in the fitness room because this hotel sucks. The train going by at 3 AM is so happening to be annoying. That woman who cut in front of me in line at the lunch buffet because she is arrogant. All of these judgments. All day. Everyday. It’s exhausting. Time to dismantle the Judge.
So I’ve been working on this and this what I have found so far:
1. Name it. Shirzad recommends giving it a name. So whether it’s Executioner, The Critic, Tormenter, or as I have recently tried Sister Mary Catharine (and she has a ruler in her hand). Giving it a name gives some separation. So much of my inner dialogue is about beating myself up. Identifying “who” is saying all this takes it out of the shadows. Shirzad recommends that if you can’t think of a name you can clearly identify with, just call it The Judge. If you are like me, you spend weeks trying on different names and then give up. So use The Judge unless something else resonates. Just make sure you name it.
2. Voice. Give your Judge their voice. As instructed by Shirzad, I have been reframing my judgments by giving The Judge a voice. So instead of thinking “I think I look fat in this dress”, think “the Judge thinks I look fat in this dress”. Or “I didn’t get that job because I’m not good enough”, think “the Judge thinks I didn’t get that job because I’m not good enough”. Now the Judge is out in the open and, most importantly, you realize it’s not you. Give your Judge a voice.
3. Creator. Instead of being the victim, be the Creator. David Emerald‘s book, The Power of TED, presents the idea that the victim is living in a negative space that is constantly reacting. From my vantage point, that means the victim is constantly listening and buying into the Judge. Emerald writes. “for Victims, the focus is always on what they don’t want: the problems that seem constantly to multiply in their lives. They don’t want the person, condition, or circumstance they consider to be their Persecutor, and they don’t want the fear that leads to flight, flee, or freeze reactions either. Creators, on the other hand, place their focus on what they do want. Doing this, Creators still face and solve problems in the course of creating the outcomes they want, but their focus remains fixed on their ultimate vision.” Be a Creator.
4. PQ Reps. The biggest take away from Positive Intelligence is trying to do PQ reps 100 times a day. I rolled my eyes when I thought of doing anything 100 times a day. BUT a PQ rep is really just 10 seconds or 3 breathes of being present. This has been fascinating to try for the last week. When I walked my dog this morning I was constantly doing PQ Reps. So I smelled some honeysuckle, I spent three breathes smelling the honeysuckle. Then I listened to birds for 3 breathes, then felt the breeze on my face, then listened to my dog panting, then watched a cardinal, then stopped and smelled some roses (yes, seriously). The point of this is to bring you back to your prefrontal cortex where you do your best thinking. When you are listening to the Judge you are in your limbic system and, outside of fleeing from danger like a Saber-toothed Tiger, it’s really not that healthy for you. Try getting in some PQ Reps.
5. Empathy. One of the superpowers that Positive Intelligence brings is empathy. I think I’m pretty empathetic but Chamine promotes being empathetic towards yourself. Have some self-compassion. He suggests finding a photo of yourself when you were a child and full of possibilities, passion and wonder. I found a picture of myself and set it up as wallpaper on my phone. I see that picture of myself every time I swipe the phone (which is turns out is a lot). I see this brave little girl in the middle of Rocky Gorge, one of my favorite places from my childhood in New Hampshire. There is her bright shiny face looking at the camera braving the chilly torrent of a rocky river. That girl? She’s amazing. I want to protect her from the Judge. Find empathy for yourself.
6. Curiosity. Chamine recommends another super power of curiosity. It’s funny because Emerald suggests the same thing. I have written before that curiosity is the antidote for fear. It’s also the antidote for your Judge. The Judge wants you to be choked by your fear; to standstill and resist. Curiosity opens the curtains. It shows all the possibilities. It’s liberating. Reframing any conflict or issue or assumption into curiosity makes it possible. You’re just an anthropologist studying the “Culture of You”. Hmmm. I wonder what would happen if I just called that new client. Hmmm. I wonder what would happen if I went to that meeting alone. Hmmm. I wonder what would happen if I just apologized. Find your curiosity.
I have to suggest you go to Chamine’s website PositiveIntelligence.com and try out some of his assessments. Find out your PQ score (mine was 71) and see if you can move the needle (you want to be above 75). He also has some guided audio sessions to help you connect to your prefrontal cortex (did I mention they are free?). So in the meantime, I continue to dismantle my Judge. How do you shut down your judgmental voices in your head?