I'm a fairly new cell phone user having just 'inherited' an IPhone last summer. I've slowly become more dependent on it as a primary source to communicate with family members and some friends. Lately when I see someone I haven't seen for a while I'll say something like 'I'm one of those people now' and hold up my cell phone. What I mean by that is that now people can reach me more easily and I can be more connected to people and resources I want/need. This also revealed my previous 'judgement' about people who used their cell phones a lot.
Today I realized that I caught myself in another 'judging others' moment. Sitting by the St. Clair River enjoying the boats and moving river my eyes were drawn to what looked like a family wandering along the boardwalk. All five of them ... parents and three children ... were staring at their cell phones as they walked. They weren't talking to each other (or anyone else) and all were walking slowly, fully engrossed in their phones. I looked around at the lovely day with blue skies, bright white fluffy clouds, varied shades of the river, cresting white caps, billowing sails and brave swimmers floating down the fast moving current. The gardens along the river are pretty and the personalized memorial pavers often carry interesting messages. All of this was unnoticed by the family glued to their phones. After several yards one or two would look up and around and then turn back to their phones. My judgements went into full swing having just watched a documentary on the over use of technology.
But fifteen minutes later, the magic happened. Life offered me a lesson about judging others. I heard the familiar vibrating of my phone and looked to see who it was. The text from my friend was a bit longer than usual and very funny. I began reading it out loud to my husband and then responded. Before long, I realized I had spent 15 minutes engrossed in a conversation oblivious to the surroundings I had just thought impossible to ignore. Ugh! I thought for a minute: "Daryl, you have no idea what those people were doing on their phones. Maybe they had simultaneously gotten a message from someone they all knew. Maybe they had received an emergency alert. Maybe they WERE in touch with each other. Or maybe, like you, they were reading something captivating."
I am grateful I was reminded so quickly that, in the view of Shadow Work, the judgements we make about others are a reflection of ourselves. The saying 'whatever we admire or despise in others is also within us' is a perfect reminder to stop ourselves when we are in a state of judgement. It doesn't mean we may be doing the exact same behaviour but there is something we say in our heads that can be revealing. When I saw that family I was thinking how disconnected they were from each other and the world around them. When I asked myself my 'critical thinking' question (How am I like that in MY life?) it was clear that I too can disconnect when I play cards online, eat mindlessly or browse through websites.
What difference might it make if we all gave others a little more latitude when we feel the surge of judgement and take ownership of our own actions/reactions to our experiences.
Ms. Daryl Wood is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach, a Certified TED* Practitioner and graduate of The Co-Active Leadership Program. After facilitating life-changing Women's Retreats for 17 years she is dedicated to sharing the The Empowerment Dynamic (TED*) material in organizations and with individuals eager to transform their relationship with themselves, others and situations.