To smile at life and at those we interact with, instead of frowning in judgement, criticism and disapproval, makes like so much sweeter . A smile softens the barricade that we put up around ourselves and knocks down the walls of disconnection that make us feel so alone and isolated in this world. Amelia Ella Hope, 2019
Today I’m walking back from a quick trip into town. So I’m not so much on one of my peaceful rambles through the countryside but more on a practical trip with purpose to pick up supplies of toothpaste and vitamins. I’m walking back, via the more scenic route though along a quiet path adorned with trees running alongside the peaceful flowing river that runs through the town. So nature is still there as I walk calling and inspiring my creativity once again to write.
As I set off from town I passed through a crowd of people standing outside the local supermarket. A scene not so dissimilar to that found in any other busy British town. The people waiting were passing their time either engaged in deep conversation, frantically scrolling through their mobile phones or checking their watches, occasionally pausing for a brief moment to look around as they awaited the arrival of their bus. I managed to find a break in the crowd and walked through the middle where I became aware of my judgemental side waiting there for me. It was frowning in disapproval, judgement and criticism towards those that I was walking past. A young girl, for example, who in my judgemental eyes was disapprovingly plastered in way too much make-up and checking out her appearance for quite probably the 100th time in the last minute…and on her mobile phone! (All disapprovingly according to my judgemental side.) And that wasn’t just it. It went on. My thoughts then jumped to the next unwitting person or poor victim of my inner critic and judge. After taking a couple more innocent by standers down with my misplaced thoughts, I began to notice how I was feeling and how being in that place of judgement and criticism made me feel. To be honest, it wasn’t good. I observed as I continued to walk that I felt disconnected, uncomfortable, tense, unfriendly and threatened in some way. All to familiar feelings that often accompany my judgemental and critical side.
I grew up in a very judgemental and critical household with parents, in particular a father who was very outwardly expressive of his judgemental and critical opinions of those who knew and mostly didn’t know. He always had a judgemental opinion about everyone and everything…and his opinions were rarely kind or positive. He was my father though, who I dare not question and therefore in my eyes, he was always right and it wasn’t long until I too learnt the misplaced art of judging and criticising others, and then even worse myself. It became a habit for me. A bad habit, and once it became the norm I wore that habit like one would wear their favourite jumper. I couldn’t take if off. It had become a safe and comfortable way for me to interact with my environment and those within it.
Over the last 20 years or so, I’ve walked tirelessly along my path of recovery. I’ve begun to heal the deep seated wounds of my past, become increasingly self aware and as a result have discovered more of my True, Authentic Self and who I really am. I’m still on that path and the further along I travel, the more I find my old habits and old outdated ways of thinking, behaving and being, such as being judgemental and critical, just don’t fit me any more and that once favourite jumper I couldn’t take off has now become too uncomfortable to wear. When I find myself slipping back into old ways my body always lets me know, through how I feel, just like it did today with feelings of tension and discomfort. It lets me know that something is not in alignment with who I really am and who I want to be and that is my signal to make a change.
So whilst I’m waking back home today, I’m going to action that change, with regards to my judgemental and critical thinking, with a very simple idea that has just come to mind. Each time I pass someone on the way home I’m going to greet them with a smile instead of judgement and criticism. If my old habit kicks in then I will continue to smile and greet them with a hello and perhaps even exchange some kind words. That’s all…all the way home and I’m going to see how that makes me feel.
It’s not the busiest path that I’m walking along, I’ll admit that, but I have passed about 6 or 8 people so far and you know what I can really notice, and feel, a change in myself already.
Which each smile my body has begun to soften. I feel less defensive and not so vulnerable. I don’t feel so guarded, so disconnected and so unfriendly. I feel more loving, more open and more connected and I find myself wanting to connect and engage more in conversation with the people I greet. I feel great and life feels so much sweeter. Even the bird song seems sweeter and seems to ring louder in my ears and nature’s beauty seems to radiate out even more brightly. That brings an even bigger smile to my face. It seems that as I allow myself to connect more to others, that I am able to connect more with life as a whole.
I understand where my inner critic and judgemental sides have come from, and in reality that has come not only from my father but also from within myself as I have adapted those traits, over the years, as a defence and protective mechanism to keep me safe in the environments and situations in which I found myself in as a child. I guess having those traits, being able to judge and criticise, became a way of surviving and protecting myself in what was for me a very unsafe world. With this insight and awareness, I can now greet not only others with a smile but also those aspects of myself, with love, acceptance and gratitude for the part that they have played in keeping me safe throughout my childhood.
I’m really grateful for this experience today for it has not only given me the opportunity to gain greater insight, growth and awareness but also it has allowed me to change an old, long running habit and let go of the hold that it once had on me.
For me so far, it has felt great to smile at the world and I invite you to give it a go. If you have a inner judge and critic and you do decide to give it ago then make sure as you start to become more aware of those inner parts of yourself that you don’t start to judge yourself for being that way. Simply observe those part of yourself with acceptance, love and compassion. As parts of yourself that you started to wear at some point in time in your life, for some good reason, to help you fit into your environment or survive your specific circumstances.
Smile and the whole world really does smile with you.
Well that’s it for today. I’ve really enjoyed sharing today’s ramblings with you and I hope they may inspire you in some way. I look forward to rambling with you next time. With all my love until then.
Amelia Ella Hope xx
2 days later…….
I’ve continued to smile at passes-by over the last couple of days since I wrote this blog and so far so good. It still works. Yes, I’ve had to catch myself a couple of times, when judgement and criticism have kicked in, but in those moments I have chosen to replace any outdated thinking with more positive, open hearted thoughts and for me it has really worked. With one lady, I found myself getting all judgemental again and I stopped myself and chose to replace that negative old way of thinking with one positive thought. She was wearing a lovely jumper and it suited her and that was the thought that I chose to focus on and replace my old ways of thinking with. Old habits are just things that we have done on a repeated basis over and over again until they have become familiar and normal, just like my judgemental and critical thinking. They can be changed if we are willing to allow ourselves to be, do and try something new.
Lots of Love