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093: Judginess Works Until It Doesn’t – Stacey Robbins

Stacey Robbins is an integrated wellness coach, speaker, and author of An Unconventional Life: Where Messes and Magic Collide, You’re Not Crazy and You’re Not Alone, and Bloom Beautiful. She creates experiences through her international retreats and workshops, empowering women to live from what she calls their “Brave Soul Place.”

Her career began as a professional musician when she was 15, working as a songwriter, pianist, and vocalist in solo performance as well as with many other talented artists, but when she was 27 hit a health bump that dramatically shifted her life. After a parade of misdiagnoses, gaining 100 pounds in a year and becoming so ill that she could barely get out of bed, the doctors told her to get her affairs in order.

Stacey began pursuing her health from a deeply spiritual angle that led her to shine a flashlight down all the corridors of her life: Thoughts, Beliefs, Patterns, Relationships, Spiritual Practices, Self-Care, Food, and Exercise. Through that experience and years of research of a diagnosis with Hashimoto’s (an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid and therefore every cell in your body) she has been able to speak all over the US and reach people all over the world with her healing insights that she discovered through her own sacred journey. Stacey resides in Southern California with her author, tech-geek, musician husband and their two amazing, curly-haired teenage sons.

In This Episode, You Will Learn:

  • What drives judginess within each of us.
  • The difference between being in relationship with someone and to someone.
  • What happens to our vision when we become judgy.
  • How to release judgment and become 100% committed to the whole person.

Connect with Stacey Robbins:

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Interview Transcript

Stacey Robbins, welcome to the show.

Thank you David Trotter. I don’t know why I’m here, but I’m glad to be here with you. This is the surprise interview.

Yes! It is an interview/conversation. I had something that I experienced the other day and I’ve been wanting to get you for an interview on it because I think you are an expert in this area.

I can’t wait. I can’t wait to hear what you think.

I’m serious. I think you are an expert in the area of judgement. Judging. Judgment. Being judgey-judgey. That comes out a little wrong, not that you’re an expert judger but you have thought a lot about this idea of judging. I had an experience the other day and I don’t want to get into it because people may be listening in my life. I am an expert judger. Oh, my gosh, Stacey. From probably an early age, I have been a more on the critical side of things. Part of that is a gift. I can see things. I can walk into a room. I can see things, how they could be improved and then I can move toward that. It also is this massive curse of always wanting to see things improved or better. That doesn’t include just organizations or experiences, but also people.

I remember a time in sixth grade. We had these two teachers. We would spend half the day in one classroom, half the day in the other. There was this teacher, Mrs. [Inaudible 0:02:33], and somehow – I don’t know, but I went home and I told my mom that she had called me stupid. I believe that’s what it was. Of course as a mom, you’re like, “Hmm, okay. Let’s go seek to understand this back down at school.” 

I remember standing. I can see it now. The chairs were on top of the tables and I remember her saying, “Well, I just think David’s attitude is not a good one,” or something like that. I remember freaking out and just being like, “Oh my gosh! This is the worst!” I ran out of the classroom. Sixth grader, what the heck? I kicked the wall in the hallway, broke my toe. Of course, I didn’t admit that or tell that to anybody. I ran out in the hallway and I’m like, “She’s so stupid!” Somehow as a sixth grader, I thought I had a better way of teaching the class than a professional teacher. You know, like you do. I remember that experience, even as a kid, I’m wanting to tell adults should be the better way to do things. Stacey, what the heck? Come on.

Anyway, I have these experiences in my life where I feel like I’m – you can call it judgmental, you can call it critical, whatever. I’ve worked on it for years. But I want to talk about why we are judgey, why we are critical, how we can become less judgey, less critical. What are the ramifications of being judgey in our life? And how we can maybe move forward. I can’t be the only one here that’s critical or judgmental of others. I see it all day on social media. We think we’re experts on everything. Talk to me. What do you think about this whole idea of being judgey? Why are we judgey?

Oh my gosh. What a great topic. I didn’t really know where were going to go with any of this, so I need a minute.

We’re just chatting on the phone. It’s like I’m sitting in my truck and we’re just talking.

I know, we do that so well, David. When I think of, like you share your childhood story about being in that situation and being good at judgement. Then also having it not work for you. I guess one of the things that comes to me is when I think back to myself as a child. I’m thinking, I was really good at forgiving. I was really good at discerning and knowing certain things. But I don’t know that there was the presence of judgement in the sense of right, wrong, worthy, unworthy attached to it. In the same that when my kids figured out that I was fat, they knew I was fat and there was the presence of love. Is that called judgement? Is that discernment? Is that just having information? Does judgement automatically include making someone right and someone wrong? Does it automatically include change?

Okay, so you can have information on a situation and yet not move toward saying it’s right or wrong, good or bad?

Yeah, I think that you can. You and I both came from religious backgrounds and so there’s this context of, “What is judgement?” If I walk up to an apple tree and a fig is growing out of it, I judge that that fruit doesn’t normally grow from that tree. That can be an assessment. Judgement can be an assessment, right? But it also can be an indictment. When you think of a judge and a jury, there’s usually some form of punishment associated with it. What makes it different between information and something that has punishment?

For me, it’s the presence of fear. When there’s a presence of fear, I’m going to need to define something as right or wrong. Because when I’m afraid, I want to feel safe. If maybe me defining something makes me feel safe, I’m going to be more inclined to try to find a right thing and a wrong thing. So I can find my relationship to that rightness and wrongness and associate myself with one or the other so that I can feel a sense of safety. That’s when I think that judgement is probably associated with punishment and shame and when it’s coming from fear.

Let’s say we go into a church, or a doctor’s office, or a first date with somebody, we have this internal checklist. Of what will be white flags or green flags, whatever you want to say that would be a good flag, and then red flags. We look for a certain number of boxes to be ticked off in our mind. Checked off to go, “Okay, this makes me feel safe enough to move forward with opening my heart, or having more time with this person, or disclosing personal information.” Whatever it is. I think that we’re always scanning for that. I think that ultimately people are looking to feel safe. That’s part of where that judgement is coming from.

Okay, so a lot of the judgement is in the context of relationships. Judging a family member. Being critical of a family member. Being critical of a co-worker. If I have a natural ability to see things, make assessments, I think that the challenge comes in when I’m making the assessment and it moves towards good, bad, right, wrong, in, out. That’s where the challenge comes for me. Versus allowing someone to just be and having the presence to go, “I can stay in this flow state and whatever their opinion, their behavior, or something, I can set a boundary if I need to. But this is not impacting. It doesn’t need to impact me. The fear doesn’t need to come up within me. I can just allow them to be. Celebrate their uniqueness.” That’s what’s really hard.

If I knew a particular situation. We could manufacture some hypothetical situation. You could do that and that’s fine. We could address it that way. But when we shift from being in that warm, loving place with somebody, to that place where now we’re assessing them, what changes for us? At what point did we either stop being committed to the whole person of that person? At what point did we either stop seeing their vision the way they saw it? Or stopped seeing them as the right person to carry out that vision? At what point did we pull ourselves off of the field in playing with them for us all to win, and did we go into the stands and start eating our popcorn, and watching the plays, and evaluating them?

Beautiful.

What does that?

That’s a beautiful metaphor. Oh my gosh, especially even in a marriage. “Oh, I’m not on the playing field. I’m in the stands now.” Judging this person. So you’re asking what is the trigger point? Or what causes us to do that?

Yeah.

Yeah. Well, I think something must trigger in me, “I don’t want to be associated with this. This doesn’t have the values that I have. This is not how I want to live. This is not how I want to operate. This is not how I want to work. This is not what I want to be about.” Now I’m being associated with something that I don’t want to be associated with. That’s pretty strong. I’m trying to think across all the different ways you could be critical or something. Or somehow this is causing me anxiety. I guess something causes me anxiety because it’s not living up to my values in some way. It’s not part of what I prefer. It could be preference. It could be values. It could be vision. It could be any of those things, right?

Yeah, it could be that. One of the things that can trip us up is if we stop being committed to that person and if we stop choosing that person as they are, who they are, where they are. We can remove ourselves. Again, it’s a self-protection mechanism. It’s like I’m trying to get away from what I see as an explosion about to happen.

What does that mean? Choosing them in their whole selves, or however you said that?

We do that with our children. Our children do goofy things that affect us all the time. They affect our reputation when we’re in a store and  they’re pulling our clothing off and everybody can see our ass, or everybody can see our cleavage, or whatever. We’re less concerned about that and we’re more concerned about the child. We’re less concerned about our reputation. We’re not thinking we’re going to divorce our child. We’re thinking they’re in a place. They’re just in a stage and they’re having a moment. I’m committed to being with them in the moment, more than I am committed to looking good or preserving myself. I’m more committed to them being okay in the moment.

That doesn’t always happen as a parent. Sometimes we are more committed to preserving our reputation, like when they do that kind of stuff in front of our boss, or in front of our minister, or in front of somebody that we deem important and we want to impress. I think that we can get divided. I think I would ask the question, without having a specific, I work really well with specifics. That’s where my best coaching and intuition can step in. But in general, I would be asking some questions. At what point did you become more concerned about how you look and how you appear? At what point did you feel powerless to make a difference and therefore you felt like you had to make a choice of safety? To step in and make a difference because you felt like your voice still had a place? And you influence still had a place with making a difference. Or did you step back? Did you remove yourself?

And with removing yourself, did you attach any kind of judgement, like that person is right or wrong? Because are you okay to just choose stepping back? Because this simply doesn’t work for me anymore. If we remove the words right and wrong and we replace them with workability, “Does this work for me or not?” Then what happens is we can neutralize someone else’s behavior. Come out of judging them and into judging the situation. That’s becomes very different. So we can maintain a connection to people, while we don’t have to maintain a connection to the actions or to the thing we’re doing with them.

Let’s say I’m in a business relationship with somebody and they are doing something with the finances that I don’t agree with. Do I have to remove my whole self from that person? Or can I maintain connection with that person and still address the issue that isn’t working for me?

That is brutal. That is a very rare person who’s able to do that, what you just said. To be able to address the situation and still be for that person. Because it seems like we move toward demonization of that person. Whether it’s a spouse, or a coworker, or a friend. Or maybe it’s me who does that, I don’t know.

No, so many of us do that. I do that. I think that what happens is when we don’t feel safe, I know this is big heavy stuff but I’m just going to say it this way and we’ll let the chips fall where they may. When we don’t feel safe, we stop being in relationship with people and we start being in relationship to people. When we’re in relationship to people, we’ve removed ourselves and we’re judging them. When we’re in a relationship with someone, we’re committed. We’re with them. We choose them. The whole person of them. We work with them through a situation. But when we’re in a relationship to someone, it’s like I’ve removed myself and now I’m pointing a finger at you. I’ve crossed my arms. I’m assessing you. You need to prove yourself to me. I have some invisible line of death you just crossed. It was inside of myself, inside of my preference, my safety.

They have no clue.

They have no idea that they’ve cross the invisible line of death, and you’re the only one who knows the secret of how they can get back into your good graces. That’s the kind of judgement that doesn’t work for humanity. Because it doesn’t include honest communication. It doesn’t include risking trusting someone else. It doesn’t include owning your own choice. You can actually walk away from a situation without exploding it. You can walk away from a situation without making someone wrong.

I’ve walked away from a family relationship where I deeply loved this person and – not but, because I live in the and, not the but – I love that person and they were really being unsafe. I was in my twenties at this point, I stepped back and I want to look at me first. Because very often when we’re judging someone else, it’s often that we’ve got that same issue inside of us that’s unreconciled and it shows up in somebody else. That’s why marriage is so interesting, because it’s a provocative relationship. It provokes us and it pokes us. It’s not that we’re issueless when we’re single. It’s that when we get into a marriage or any kind of committed relationship, you’re now having someone close enough to push those buttons that exist within you.

And kids make it even worse.

They can making it harder, right?

Okay. Oh yeah, harder. Sorry.

No, it’s true.

There I go judging. Judging kids out of all humanity. Yeah, so the first thing I’m hearing you say though, is that with judgement, we’re moving away from a relationship with someone to a relationship to someone. What I sense when I move toward judgement, whether it’s a restaurant, a sales person, a business, an organization, a spouse, a friend, a family member, relationship is broken in some way. Maybe it’s still there, but it’s definitely not a connection. It feels more like you said, it’s not a with, it’s a to.

I feel like then, how many of us, including myself, are missing out on something? I feel like I’m missing out on something because I’m judging. I feel like I’m missing out on relationship. I feel like I’m missing out on connection. I feel like I’m missing out. And yet, there’s a right, wrong, good, or bad part of me. Part of it I think is personality. I’m a one on the enneagram, INTJ, blah, blah, blah. There’s justice. Justice is a big thing inside of me for whatever reason, personality. Then I go, “They’re out. They’re out. They’re out.” It’s like, what am I missing out on? I’m missing out on relationships somehow. I’m missing out on growth because of that judgement.

So how do I move? How do we move from a place of judgement against other people? This could be anything. It could be as simple as being critical about a restaurant or organization, a sales kind of situation. I even say that because anytime I get into a mode of criticalness or judginess, I don’t feel good about myself. You know what I mean? I’m negative toward even a business, or restaurant, or person, I feel like, “Meh.” I might get a little juice. I might get a little hit. I might get fired up because I know better than they do. I know better how to do something or I know better perspective on the world. I know better about politics or whatever. I get a little hit, but I don’t feel good. I feel kind of bad.

How do we move from that sense of critical judginess, toward what? I don’t even know what we’re moving toward. How do we get out of that mode?

Richard Eyre wrote the book Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There. Where he took adages and he flipped them around upside down and backwards. So instead of saying, “Don’t just sit there, do something.” He took the adage that says, “Familiarity breeds contempt.” He said, “Commitment dissolves the contempt that familiarity breeds.”

I don’t even know how you got that out of your head. You literally pulled that out of your head right now as we’re talking. That’s out of control. Okay, say that again.

Really commitment is basically what he’s saying.

Commitment dissolves…

You start knowing someone well, and that’s when, “Oh, I know you. I know you. I know you.” He says the way to take away that contempt that familiarity breeds, is to commit. So when we commit to each other, that’s one of the ways. We’re committed to our spouse, we’re committed to our kids. We’re committed to a bigger vision. We’re committed to them getting through it. We don’t throw our children away because they pooped in their pants. We’re committed to them being potty trained. We get committed.

And they don’t poop just once.

Yeah, they don’t do that just once, right? I think commitment is one of the antidotes for that. I think that it’s also okay to start with understanding that we all judge. That’s part of our wiring and not to get into a shame and blame with ourselves, because that will lock us down and put us in judgement of ourselves. What I tell my clients is that judgement closes our periphery. It takes that big field, that panoramic view of life, and it puts blinders on us. Then all we can see is what we think we’re right about in front of us. We can’t see the whole person. The two pictures that I have with my clients is, I say basically judgement cuts off your peripheral vision. So you can’t see the whole person anymore because you’re so committed to being right about how wrong they are. The other is that judgement is basically when we’re in relationship to an idea, a label of someone. So basically it’s like we’ve labeled someone as right or wrong, good or bad. That person’s always cranky. That person always complains. That person always does the right thing. Their house is always cleaner. They’re always a mess. They’ve got the water bottles falling out of the car. They’re a hot mess. We label people all the time. The reason we do that, I see – the reason we do that is because it’s much easier to be in a relationship with a file folder. Label somebody else.

One dimensional person.

So every time that person comes to mind, every time that person stands in front of us, we’re not in a fluid, trusting, vibrant relationship or conversation with them. We’re in relationship with the idea we have about them in our head. You know what that is? It feels easier. It feels safer. It feels cleaner. It feels less problematic. Whereas people in a dynamic relationship, they’re going to take something and give something. For those of us who go, “I’m tired. I’m burnt out. My trust has been broken. I don’t know if I can believe you.” It’s so much easier to be in a relationship with an idea in our head than it is to be in a relationship with a person.

That’s why you’re likely feeling that “I’m missing connection” kind of feeling. Because you are. You’re missing all the joy that does also come with the fluid relationship. But what I was saying earlier, and I do want to bring this point back. In my twenties when I was in that relationship with someone who I did love and I didn’t know how to work with their unsafe parts. I was like, I had to admit to myself that maybe it’s just that I’m not grown enough. Maybe I’m not evolved enough to know. Maybe someone who knows more than I. Or whose in a better place than I am, a healthier place, would know how to maintain this relationship with this person.

Right.

What I did was I went to that person. I said, “I love you so much and I know you love me. I don’t want  to point a finger at either one of us because I don’t know that I have a clear enough understanding of what’s going on. What I do know is that I’m not getting clearer by being in close proximity of our relationship. So because I don’t know how to navigate this and I don’t want to make you wrong. Because I’m not saying what you’re doing is wrong. I’m saying, I can’t see clearly this close up. So I’m going to take a step back and I just want you to know that it’s for the sake of having some time, having some space, and getting some clarity about what my part is. Because I can’t call you to your part until I know what mine is and I want to do that first.”

That is the way that I separated myself from a relationship that seemed to have a lot of unhealth, and I didn’t also want to blame them. I didn’t need to make them wrong in order to leave. I needed to just know that I didn’t have clarity and that was enough. I find that that is more freeing for me. To be that kind of honest. I have someone in my life right now who I do not trust. I do not trust her and I am trying to figure out how do I have a conversation about not trusting someone when I don’t trust them?

How am I going to allow them to speak into the conversation with me as a peer, as an equal, when I don’t feel trusting of her? If I don’t feel trusting of her, what could she say that would engender my trust, that would inspire my trust? I don’t have an answer on that and so therefore, I’m seeking some wisdom outside of myself in order to get clarity on that before I have a conversation with her, if I ever choose to have that clarifying conversation.

I’m wondering how many of us are disconnected from relationship or just we’re so tired from day-to-day work and the workplace relationships, that we just put people in boxes like you’re saying. We judge them for being a certain way and we miss out on the fullness of that relationship. Because it does require effort. In all of our conversations, I see you extending, seeing people at a distance. I’m like, “I would have written that person off so long ago.” And you’re like, “No, no, no, no. I see the fullness of them. This is just a moment. They’re learning, they’re growing.” I’m like, oh my goodness, you have so much capacity to do that for people. That’s part of your gift, I do believe. But also, not only it’s a gift, you work on it. You actually are very conscious of creating space for people to be able to morph and change, and see them in a whole perspective.

I appreciate the conversation. I think that’s one of the things in 2020 that I am going to work on. I think that the people that I’m judging, they’re not harmful. It’s not a situation like you were dealing with in your twenties. These are people that are just great people. It’s not one area of my life. There’s lots of people that I judge in life. I am just wanting to be honest about it and go, “Okay, great. How do I give this an opportunity for me to be more fluid, more open, more generous, more gracious?” Getting rid of the blinders to see the holistic aspect of the person. I want to work on that this year. That’s a lifelong challenge for me. I feel like I’m wanting to do more work on that.

I commend you so much for wanting to take steps of evolution in that. I went through such a judgey time. I was so judgement in my religious times and in my assessing of others. I have been the queen of judging people. That’s not how I was as a child. I could know and love. Something kicked in. I was taught certain things in my upbringing, and then I went through some unsafe circumstances. Then I got into some religious ideologies that include good, bad, right, wrong. Certain forms of justice, etcetera. It just became part of my culture and I became really good at it. I’m a really good student. If you teach me judgement, I’m going to shine. What I found is that when I would encounter people one on one and be in the presence of them, truly present to the presence of them, I couldn’t employ those same judgements.

Right.

I truly felt so much love. What I started realizing is that there is this picture of a seat, like a throne. There is only room for one butt on that throne. It was either going to be a seat of judgement or a seat of love. I couldn’t do both. If I loved you, I loved you. That didn’t mean I didn’t see the whole person of you, but it meant that I wasn’t sitting in that position in order to judge you. I stopped seeing people as broken and then I stopped seeing myself as needing to fix them. You know that saying, when you only have a hammer, you see everything as a nail. I stopped seeing everything as something needing to be fixed by me.

I stopped living in the role of being a savior to people or knowing more about them. I realized that was my way of keeping a distance and not having to open my heart. I realized that the more I judged people, the less I was actually able to live in the legacy of love that I want to have in humanity. It just stopped working for me. Some of this I’ve learned through revelation, like I had the ah-ha moment that I can’t love and judge people at the same time. I also learned some of it by just working on it.

I think one of the biggest remedies for healing judgement in us, is to notice when we’re doing it. To have that higher view of ourselves noticing when we’re doing something. That when we notice it, like Eckhart Tolle says, “When you hear two voices in your head, only one of them is true.” When you have the part of you that can see that you’re judging, that part of you that can see it, is the best part of you. The highest part of you. The other part is that self-protective, egoic human part of the experience.

Last thing I want to say on this before you jump back in is, Dave, it works for us in humanity to judge others. That’s why we’re not often willing to step out of the judgement. It has a high level of workability. You’ve gotten through forty plus years of your life with this. I got through X amount of decades in my life with it working. And it works until it doesn’t. It works until we stop feeling peace or connection to people, and we starting going, “Wow, it matters more that I’m connected to my child.”

If my child came to me and said, “I vote this way and it’s different than you.” “I think this way about marijuana and it’s different than you.” “I think this way about whatever and it’s different than you.” I would hope that what my child feels around my table is that I love them more than I need to agree with them. That’s really my aim more with people. As I’ve envisioned the last couple of years, it’s that whoever sits at my table knows that they’re loved more than anything else. It doesn’t mean I won’t judge, it just means that I have a higher aim than trying to figure them out or fix them.

StaceyRobins.com, Italian retreats, and 100-Day Gong. Anything right now you want to promote? Anything you want to invite people to?

Yeah, my 100-Day Gong is that hundred day experience that I have starting on January 21st. It’s one of the most powerful practices that I’ve done in my life to help me move the needle on losing the rest of the hundred pounds I’ve lost. On writing books that were in my heart. That helped me to move forward peace of mind. To lose that naggy, bitchy voice in my head. I have done ten 100-day practices and they have transformed my life, so I’m creating that for other people to join me on January 21st. They can go to www.staceyrobbins.com and click on the link through and join us.

Perfect. It’ll be in the show notes, www.staceyrobbins.com. Stacey, I feel less judgey already.

You’re awesome David.

thank you!