It is the time of year when the excitement of a new school season is approaching. New clothes and shoes are purchased. Backpacks are filled with supplies. Butterflies tickle young tummies as children wonder about which friends will be in their classroom and who their teacher will be.
It has been many, MANY, years since I have been in school, but I do remember all of this. School memories can fill your heart with nostalgia and wistful thoughts of experiences, successes, and a few failures.
Do you remember in school when your assignments were returned to you after the teacher made corrections with a red pen? Those red checkmarks, circles, and comments cut right to your heart as if a neon sign was flashing “FAILURE!”
Could this be where we learned the concept of judging? We have been conditioned to point out what is unacceptable, wrong, or incomplete. We all have a mental red pen that constantly searches and rates everything within our focus. We judge others on their clothes, income, status, and even the behavior of their children. We judge restaurants by how good the food is, how clean the floor is and how immediate the service is. We judge the weather by the temperature, wind speed, and humidity.
And the mental red pen does double duty when we judge ourselves. The number on the scale is too high; there are too many gray hairs; accomplishments are not grand enough; on and on and on.
What if we stepped back from the mental red pen? Stop the checkmarks, circles, and comments and adopt the phrase, “Isn’t that interesting?”
The next time you see a girl with blue hair, tattoos, and piercings or want to thrash yourself for the two pounds you gained on vacation, step back, take a breath, and say, “Isn’t that interesting?”
This is not saying you condone everything you see and every action you or others make. It is just the calm acknowledgment of observation. Not good. Not bad. Not negative. Not hateful.
The phrase, “Isn’t that interesting?” may become a buffer between you and confrontation. It may become a kinder frame for self-talk instead of the negative chatter we are used to hearing. It may become a new perspective into non-judgment of others.
The mental red pen can become the means for feedback and not failure.
Can you live one day without judging yourself or others? Try it. You will notice just how often you do engage that mental red pen of acceptability or failure. After you complete one day, try for two, then three. You may just step back from this exercise and say, “Isn’t that interesting?”
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Pennie’s Life Lesson:
"Put down your mental red pen.
Instead of judging yourself and others say, “Isn’t that interesting.”
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