It’s often said that how we’re judging things says a lot about us.
This, to a large extent, I think is BS. Partly because there’s a big, fat, blurry line between judging things and talking about things. The notion of “judging” is highly subjective and relative to the thickness of one’s skin.
Partly because it’s the all-time easiest way to derail a perfectly good debate if someone feels a little too exposed for comfort. It’s basically a way of saying “you’re one to talk” instead of addressing whatever point being made.
However, when we move beyond conveniently attributing Freudian defence mechanisms to someone smarter than ourselves, there’s a certain truth to it. And to examplify this, I will turn to my man Marcus Aurelius.
This isn’t the first time I’ve looked towards ancient southern Europe for an empowering quote. And, seeing as how the old Greeks and Romans practically perfected the art of the empowering quote, this probably won’t be the last time.
See, among many others, Marcus Aurelius had this saying:
“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”
What does this mean, then?
Well, it means that there’s a difference between what happens, and how we think about it.
For example, one might receive a letter from the bank. (They still do that once in a while, right?) And, without having even opened it, one might fear that it’s a bill, or a declaration of suspended credit cards due to overdraft.
Or, one might look at the date and think it’s probably just the annual account balance statement. (That’s also a thing, right?)
Okay, so maybe not the best example. But the point is…:
Are you judging things and occurrences as curses or blessings in disguise? How we perceive the world reveals our level of confidence.
“But wait a minute! What if I broke my arm? Wouldn’t I be in tremendous pain then?!”
Well, probably, yes. However, one thing is that instances of not feeling pain until you’re aware of your injury are actually fairly common. But furthermore, it’s even possible to hack your brain into not feeling any pain at all.
And even so, the way I read the quote is that it’s not so much about some inherent quality of what happens to us, but what we take away from it.
Sure, you might break your arm. And sure, it would suck. And initially, you would probably curse the fact that it happened, as would I. We’re only human, after all.
But at the end of the day, our confidence benefits far more from judging things like that as challenges to be overcome, thereby strengthening us. Even if that involves having to spend months rehabilitating a broken limb.
Think of one thing which you absolutely cannot stand. It doesn’t have to be something downright horrible (e.g. a deadly disease). But still, try to find something worse than simply brussels sprouts or wet socks.
Now, having this thing in mind, try to think of at least THREE positive traits or aspects about this thing. Again: They don’t necessarily have to pertain to you. But you have to be able to acknowledge those positive aspects.
Optionally, try to come up with even more.
Congratulations: You’ve just discovered a whole new way of judging things.