Week 7: The Kinder Side of Not Giving a Fu%k- Practicing Nonjudgment.
Often times when we think of the phrase “don’t give a fu%k,” it invokes this feeling of being unkind. Despite its crassness, I need the strength of this phrase: one because cussing is part of my vernacular and two because I have the tendency to feel over responsible for other people’s feelings. Reminding myself to not give a fuck about the wrong things is actually the kindest thing I can do. I can’t control other people’s actions; I can’t control whether other people are going to like me or not. What I can control is how a respond to other people’s actions and I can either respond with thinking about all the things they are doing wrong and making assumptions about what terrible people they are OR I can give them the benefit of the doubt and try to assume that they are doing the best that they can. If their behavior is particularly offensive to me, I can practice compassion and remind myself that this is most likely what they are doing with their pain.
We all do things with our pain that if other people were to see our behavior, would probably judge the shit out of us. Think about you coming home and eating a whole bucket of ice cream or losing your temper with your five year old after the tenth time you asked him to put his shoes on. I bet in the corners of your heart in those moments, there is a voice that is saying, “I know this behavior doesn’t serve me, but if only people knew that I was suffering.” This isn’t to say that there is no right or wrong in the world AND we absolutely need to be held accountable for our actions, but me judging the lady at the supermarket for being slightly curt doesn’t do anyone any good. The important distinction is that we practice love, kindness and nonjudgment with WHO the person is at the core, while still holding people accountable and setting boundaries with the BEHAVIOR:
Ultimately, even from a secular perspective, we are all just energy. From a slightly more spiritual perspective, I believe we are all just love and light underneath all the crap we do to ourselves and with our bodies AND sometimes people’s behavior has a deeply negative impact on others. The behavior needs to have boundaries set around it, sometimes with a simple verbal “no,” sometimes, the person’s behavior is dangerous and they need to be separated from society, hopefully to find healing. At the core of who we are, there is goodness and light; the behaviors that don’t reflect that are usually trying to protect us from vulnerability or pain.
As a perfect example, Last week’s video on breathing and mindfulness actually inspired Tanner, one of the six viewers on youtube to write a particularly disturbing comment, stating, “boooo! You should breathe like you have duct tape over your mouth.” When I was twenty years’ old, that would have sent me reeling for weeks. Now that I have been practicing compassion AND not giving a fuck about other people’s shit, I was able to reel for only 5 minutes and embrace the knowledge that that this is what Mr. Tanner is doing with his pain. I responded with this comment:
“Tanner Black – wow love. It appears that my little video has put you right into the flight or fight reaction. I’m sure your system had to learn to do that to protect yourself from pain. AND since you have offered no actual feedback about what you didn’t like so much, I will be sprinkling a healthy dose of “not give a fuck” on your comment. This is not to say I don’t give a fuck about you. I hope you find healing that resonates with you and can help you remember that underneath the violence and the fight, you are love.”
So here it is: The opportunity to practice non-judgment about who Tanner is as a person, which ultimately is love and light AND setting boundaries around the behavior. It is NOT OKAY for Tanner to have written this kind of comment to me and his behavior needs some modification, but staying out of judgment for who he is and only caring enough to the point that I keep myself safe and then letting the rest go MAKES MY LIFE BETTER.
A helpful practice to build nonjudgment is to practice describing things as if a video camera were writing things down. Describing what is actually happening in your body, not good, not bad, just what it is. Instead of “I’m anxious,” try “I feel a tingling or jittery sensation in my stomach and I am having the thought that I am feeling anxiety.” Instead of “that guy cut in front of me and he is such an asshole,” try “that man got in front of me in line after I was already in line. His eyes looked in my direction and then darted away.” The assumption that he did not see you is ONLY an assumption. We cannot be sure that he registered that he actually saw you in line or that there was a line. What if everything isn’t good or bad, it just is. Everything has the opportunity to teach us something. The most painful experiences have the opportunity to crack open the most beautiful parts of our hearts. Judging other people or judging experiences is only making our own lives suffer more.
Have you ever noticed that when you misbehave, you attribute this to the situation or to things outside of your control, but when other people make mistakes, you attribute those actions to the quality of their character? If you cut someone off in traffic, it is because you are having a bad day or you are in a hurry, but if someone cuts you off, they are a jerk. This is called the personal attribution bias- that’s right- it’s a thing. But what if we assume that everyone is doing their best? We still set boundaries when their behavior negatively impacts us or hurts our feelings, but we operate from the assumption that people are doing the best they can in the moment.
So here’s a helpful mantra when you are struggling with judgment: People do some shit with their pain.
It’s simple, but it helps me.
It is a fine line between not being overly permissive and justifying behavior that needs to be corrected AND still practicing compassion and non-judgment with who people are. It is the kindest thing we can do sometimes- to stop giving a fuck about what other people are doing, thinking or saying and remember that underneath it all, we are just little balls of love and light wanting to connect with other people’s love and light.