If you haven't read the previous "Lean In" Series Posts, the here's a quick jump to get caught up. You'll get the most impact out of following the series in its entirety and by taking time to journal out your answers to the prompts.
The Lean In Series: Lean In Hard to Your Life
Lean In to Your Life Part 1: Banish Doubt
Lean In to Your Life Part 2: Diminish Guilt
This week we'll be taking on the eternal inner and external voice: judgment. Don't think judgment plays a role in your life? You might be surprised as your read on.
First let's do a quick review of the original "lean in" question designed to help you determine if you're leaning in to your own life, and to get you CLOSER to doing it. So I'll ask:
Are you leaning in to your own life?
What does "leaning in to your own life" mean? "Leaning in" means that you are making those personal and unique decisions to do what's in your heart. And not apologizing for or judging yourself for whatever that is. How can you begin to determine if you're leaning into your own life? Ask yourself this question:
"If I could do anything, what would I be doing?
Got that idea/dream/longing in your head? Okay, good. Now let's tackle what's in the way, including the judgment that makes us fearful and hesitant.
So the question of the day is: what would you be doing if you weren't afraid of someone judging you for it?
Judgment is an interesting force. In some cases, judgment can be motivating. For example, not wanting to be part of the 10% of your class who graduate without a job lined up makes you work really hard to get, and accept, a job before graduation.
In other cases, judgment can lurk under the surface in your life, impacting decisions and choices large and small. Since judgment is often subconscious you might not even know that its messing with you.
But let's be clear: judgment is a double whammy. Other people judge us AND we judge ourselves. Ouch and ouch.
But what if we uncovered the sources of your judgement? By raising your awareness about the role of judgment in your life you can recognize when your judgment is at play -- therefore improving your chances at overcoming it. Because in reality it's actually not the judgment itself that holds you back. It's the fear caused by judgment that ends up holding you back.
Judgment --> Fear --> Inhibition
Do you see the flow? Judgment matters so much because its what causes the inhibiting fear.
Now it's time to do the work. First, hold your original lean-in desire in your mind. Remember that no desire is too small. It could be anything from changing your job to saying no to invitations more frequently. Now, to figure out how your judgment informs your fear, let's dive into the following questions:
1) If I did my lean-in desire, other people would think I was: Make it a full sentence, like, "if I stayed home with my kids full time, other people would think I was..." Fill in as many adjective and descriptors here. Truly get down to it. Don't hold back. Its time for all those rude thoughts to get down on paper so they can stop lurking in your emotional baggage claim.
2) I think that people who do my desire are: Here's where your self-judgment lives. Let it out. It's demanding to be freed! Write your full sentence again and flesh it out as far as you can go. As an example of this exercise, I had a client who daydreamed of staying home with her kids full time. But privately she harbored some chock-full judgments about stay at home moms. They kept her from taking the leap she really wished she could, because her own judgments made her fearful about what her choice might say about her. **I also want to point out that often times these judgments aren't even negative! For example, the judgment that entrepreneurs are somehow more cool and risky than you are; or that all stay at home moms must have loads of financial freedom.
Did you discover anything surprising? Did any judgments reveal themselves to you that you weren't already aware were holding you back?
Guess what? We're not going to do much else with your judgment. We're just going to hold it there, undressed and now out of hiding. Only when you're aware of your judgments can you begin to consider how you might overcome them. So I'll leave you with these questions for thought:
What would it be like to lean-in anyway, despite what others might think of you? What discomfort would that bring up for you, and why? What would it take to move past that discomfort? Who could support you?
What would it be like to live your lean-in dream anyway, despite what you think it means? What could your personal narrative be about who you are that's unique or different than the one you've created for others who do it?
Which are the strongest voices that rise up? Judgments from the inside, or from the outside? if they're from the outside, are they from family? Friends? One person? A group of people?
These series activities, especially this one on judgement, require bravery, honesty, and vulnerability to complete. Remember that the guidance of a professional can help you do the deep work to required to help you move through any big stuff that arises. I also want to remind you that big stuff around judgment is normal. Judgment is a life-long formation that looms LARGE for so many people. As children we grew up and interacted with our worlds learning to fear judgment. As adults we make many choices in our day that are motivated by the latent desire to avoid judgment. This is so normal we don't even know we are doing it.
By doing the work on it now you're one step ahead. You're helping yourself to not look back one day and realize that you allowed fear of judgment to dictate the big parts of your life without even knowing it.
Leaning in to your life means that you wholeheartedly step into the parts of the life that you envision for yourself. That you are doing what you want to be doing. Whatever that is. Fully and with your whole self.
It means that fear and apology are diminishing and that confidence and fulfillment are increasing. That you are living the life you imagined.
Next week we'll be wrapping up the series by starting to explore what it would be like to give yourself permission. Thank you for taking this journey with me. I can't wait to see you then!
Lauren L. Drago, MSEd, LMHC, LPC is the founder of Lauren Drago Therapy in Old Saybrook, CT and in greater CT, NY & PA. She specializes in working with smart, insightful and capable women to overcome stress, anxiety, loss of identity, self-limiting beliefs, perfectionism, marriage strain, and the pressure of "trying to do it all." Lauren has a passion for helping others to achieve the happy, fulfilling, productive, and meaningful life they deserve by changing how they experience and understand their world. She believes that every woman can and should live out her personal definition of her own best life. Follow Lauren on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Call (860) 339-6515 for your free initial 15-minute consultation.