Have you ever lent a friend money when they were desperate? My friend was pretty desperate, and had asked before, but this time it was serious. I explained our situation, the conditions under which we’d lend and so forth. But after agreeing… I found myself judging their choices fairly strongly. I just didn’t agree with them.
Then a few days later a client of mine came to complain about some choices I had made. They were upset, and disagreed strongly with my choices. Laying aside the right and wrong of each situation for a minute (the he said/she said debate)… Something about each of these situations struck me as familiar, (apart from the sinking feeling, and the knotted stomach).
I came to realise – first by delivering judgement, and then secondly by receiving it from someone else – that each person’s perception of a situation, and therefore their judgement of it, can be profoundly different. In the first place I was sure my friends’ choices were wrong, I judged them, and said it was poor form. That was probably very unfair. I really needed to step aside from the moment and say, “my choice relates to lending or not… his choice relates to spending or not.” In the second place I experienced the uncomfortable feelings of being judged. Again I needed to separate the clients assessment and anger, from my own choices and defensiveness. Again I could step aside and say “my choice is how I spend my time, my client’s choice is what to do with that”. I choose the cause, she chooses the consequence.
In each case I was becoming more mindful, that is I was stepping aside and observing independently. I was being less judgmental, and less susceptible to being judged. I was able to think clearly and less emotionally about a situation. Now, months later, as the consequences roll on (the friend stills owes me money and the client is still upset) I have experienced freedom all this time. My emotional and mental resources have not been consumed with thinking about these situations. I am not anxious – whilst at the same time I am not ignoring the situations. I still want the money, and I still want to deliver the goods for my client.
Image copyright David Holzhausen