Suspending Judgement

It’s so easy to judge others. We spot someone behaving badly, being impatient or shouting at their child in public. We jump to conclusions so quickly about what they should and shouldn’t be doing, all based on our point of view. The trouble is, they are not us and we can never know what’s happening in their life or inside their head.

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This Christmas holiday was so different from the many that preceded it. I was calm, happy and I really enjoyed it. I forced myself to rest and I say forced because I love what I do and it’s hard for me not to do it in the holidays. But stepping away is a good thing and brings us some perspective and probably more enthusiasm than if we never took a break. I’m writing my second book and am very excited about the contents, the process and simply the writing itself.

The holiday was great because I had energy. I had enough energy to tidy cupboards that have been bothering me for years. I had enough energy to have fun with my kids – to swim in the pool with them, race them and all after a grueling 90 minutes of Bikram yoga. This is the first time I’ve had energy to really enjoy my family and my holiday since I can remember. I managed with all the usual holiday frustrations: my seven-year-old waking me up at dawn, the never-ending laundry and the housework that seemed to be undone as soon as I did it.

But it didn’t bother me. I had energy to bake and to try new things. The experimental macaroons were a disaster but it was still worth trying. I enjoyed the time away from homework and uniforms and school obligations. I connected with my children and spent some great time with them, laughing and playing. I built Lego. I raced them in the pool. I toppled off lilos and I even got my husband to throw me in the pool like he does the kids. Clearly, I didn’t go as far as they do, but it was still fun and I said ‘again, again!’ as soon as he let go.

So often, we don’t allow ourselves to have fun, to just let go and be free. We are so constrained by our own rules we impose, or worrying about what other people think. I’ve come to realize that I was so different this holiday because I’m happy and I’ve learnt how to re-frame stress. I’ve come to a place where it doesn’t matter what people think of me, I’m happy with who I am. There’s great power in feeling that way.

I’ve come to this place through a lot of personal development work and it has taken years. I know there is much  to still achieve and much growth ahead of me, but for the first time, I feel genuinely happy. I seek things that make me happy and I move away from things that don’t. Much of that work has been around self-compassion and learning to be kind to myself.

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I remember the way I was years ago, before my burnout. I was grumpy and I shouted at my kids a lot. I shouted at them for just doing the things that kids do. I just wasn’t managing with life. I was stressed out of my mind with the burden of a business I had no passion for. I felt obligated on so many fronts to be holding it all together. I had no respite, no chance to just relax and do the things I wanted to do. And worst of all, it was me who put me there. I didn’t give myself permission to have fun, to chase my dreams and to do what I wanted to do.

Of course, after my diagnosis and during recovery, I was frustrated. I was angry that I got sick and that I had to change my life so much. I wanted to live like everyone else did – eat what they want and do exercise without having to recover. It took a long time to grapple with what happened and to build a new life, a new career and a new me. It was difficult and frustrating and that showed in my behavior.

There is no possibility that we can understand or know what’s happening for someone. We can’t live their childhoods and know what thoughts are bouncing around in their heads. We can’t feel their burdens or understand their frustrations. I’m asking you to reserve judgement when you see someone doing something you feel is wrong. Maybe they are in the midst of a severe health collapse, intense grief or something you just can’t understand. Instead, send them love and treat them with kindness as they probably need it more than you do.

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Kathy
I am a champion for living your passion. Writing is my passion, my destiny and my calling. I am a mother of two beautiful daughters and a wife and live in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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