Recently I had two days of very contrasting states of mind. It reminded me of a concept I am trying to learn and better about myself regarding my attitudes and judgments towards other people. More specifically, the goal is to not be judgmental at all, or when I do catch myself having such thoughts and feelings, discarding them quickly rather than holding fast to their negativity.
On the first day I had woken up much earlier than usual, feeling a bit unwell. Just the drastic change in my sleep cycle alone would have been enough but on top of that, not feeling well put me in a strange mood. I was productive at unusual hours of the morning, and decided eventually that I had become tired enough to try to get some more sleep. This I did, but was startled awake a few hours later by a loud noise from the neighbors doing some work outdoors with tools.
Having felt a bit better after this extra bit of sleep, despite the startling second awakening, I figured the rest of the day was going to go without much incident now that I had gotten enough hours of sleep.
Instead, it ended up that I had an argument with a friend, that I had been saying judgmental thoughts in regard to their situation, and in general just being oblivious to how I was making them feel until they finally had to say something about it to me.
We patched things up pretty easily with clear communication of each others feelings and where I had made my mistake, but even after that had smoothed over, I was still feeling a bit out of sorts. That slightly ill feeling from earlier had returned after the brief argument, and in general I could tell that my mood was still not right. I had felt the backlash of the stress that I was causing my friend, and at the same time I felt the guilt that is carried along with realizing one has been unwittingly repeating a mistake that results in contrasting feelings compared to one’s intentions.
My solution to this dilemma was to simply distance myself a bit. I knew I felt out of sorts, and it might have been for a variety of reasons, perhaps even unrelated to my weird sleep schedule that day, but I knew from experience that if I didn’t take a step back and have a little time to myself, that I was going to be in a wrong mood for any kind of interactions.
So here I made a choice to just withdraw myself a bit and busy myself with things that did not include social interaction.
Everyone has days like this where maybe they make mistakes, or say something they don’t really mean, or even take out their frustrations on innocent passers-by when they don’t even have anything to do with what’s eating away at you. I used to really be incredibly critical of myself after the fact for days like this. As I begin to understand a little better that life is indeed going to have times of both what we perceive to be positives and negatives, I also begin to understand that fixating on the “bad things” only keeps them around longer.
For me, I have found that it is much better to simply address the negative moods and feelings as they come up, have honest and clear communication regarding them, including how I am feeling and what I was or was not understanding or realizing, and then simply letting that settle the issue, moving on to the next thing.
Fast forward a bit to today, and I find myself coming from a much better place mentally than the other day. I am not short with people, I am not stuck in only a single-minded judgmental viewpoint, and I am endeavoring to keep the small things small, rather than make them out to be bigger things than they are. In other words I am acting and thinking much more in line with my behavioral ideals that I see in myself.
Could it be because I got better sleep? Because I felt well instead of slightly ill? Those might have had something to do with it, but the important thing for me to grasp was that I was choosing better choices. Choosing to carry better thoughts about a situation. Choosing to be accepting of differences and to not turn a small thing into a big thing in my imagination. Choosing to be more flexible in my thought of a thing rather than rigid and insistent on my way being the only way.
Every day we find ourselves with these kinds of little choices in life. Some days we may have a harder time making the more compassionate and kind choices because maybe we’re not feeling that great, as was the case for me the prior day. I was not feeling well and that discord manifested itself through my thoughts, words, and actions.
When we come from a place in our hearts and minds that is more inline with the ideal way we see ourselves however, it’s easy to look at those same choices and choose something higher than what we would have gone with during the times of upset and ill ease.
It is in being able to gracefully handle the days when we are feeling low that we must endeavor, and humbly approach the days when we are feeling well, that we may acknowledge the ways of others as equally valid choices for how to live our collective lives on this planet, and try our best not to judge someone just because they do things differently than we have been introduced or grown accustomed to in our own experience.