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Notice Without Judgement

What the F does that even mean!? Notice without judgement?

If you follow me, you know that I talk a lot about noticing. Notice when you fall back into a habit. Notice when you say something that doesn't sit right in your gut. Notice your reactions. Notice....blah, blah, blah!

And, try to release the judgement.

If you've found yourself saying something along the lines of: "Lady, I'm noticing myself f*ck up a lot. How is this supposed to make me feel better? And I'm now judging myself for these f*ck-ups that I didn't used to pay attention to!" It's ok, notice your reactions and try to release any judgement you may have around those reactions - and to your reactions to that last sentence ;)

So what am I getting at here? How does this help you?

One of our greatest challenges when we try to change a habit is that when we fail, we end up in a cycle of slipping back into our old habits, then judging ourselves for "failing", then giving up. Sometimes this happens in a large way, and somethings it's smaller and less noticeable - until we find ourselves in the "same" situation years later.

Let's play Choose Your Own Adventure to further illustrate this.

For New Years, you set a resolution to stop eating sugar only to find yourself eating some leftover dessert the next night...

Option 1: You're so used to eating dessert you don't even notice that you're doing it.

Option 2: You catch yourself eating the sugary dessert and you judge and berate yourself in your mind. You call yourself all sorts of horrible names. You throw hurtful comments at yourself. You feel horrible that you can't even stick to one simple resolution. You may a) decide that you're a failure once again and keep eating because you've already failed, or b) punish yourself for your failure and remove/limit food and/or pleasure, or whatever your punishment of choice is.

Option 3: You catch yourself eating the leftover dessert. You pause, mid-chew, you take a breath, and you get curious.
You may ask yourself a few questions like:
- What thoughts, or lack of thought, brought you to this moment?
- What were you feeling before you started to eat the leftover dessert?
- What are you feeling now?
- What are you seeking?
- What do you notice about this habit?
- What do you notice about the room around you?
- What do you notice about the tastes in your mouth?
- Are you eating out of pleasure? Out of habit? Out of sadness/lack/loneliness?

Getting curious pulls us out of judgement and it helps to get conscious about what's going on, what may have lead to you being in this spot, and what you want to do next.

So...which of these three scenarios have you found yourself in? Which of these three scenarios is the most appealing to you?

It's likely that you've experienced all three scenarios at various times in your life, and it's likely that there's one you are very familiar with! And, it's likely that the one you're most familiar with is not Option 3. And that's ok!

Notice where you're at.

In order to break a habit, you have to notice that it is a habit. And that it's a habit you want to change!

Side note: Habits exist so that your brain can focus on other things. Your brain notices a pattern and will automatically select the next steps so that you're free to focus on something else! It's actually very helpful - it just needs some conscious effort to select the next steps that better serve you sometimes.

Back to the judgement piece. By noticing where you're at, and getting curious about it, you are less likely to fall into negative self-talk. As I'm sure you've experienced, negative self-talk is not helpful for shifting habits in a positive way - you may be able to create a change that comes from punishment, but those changes don't usually last very long.

What we're trying to get to here is a place where you notice what's going on, you get curious about it, and then you make a conscious decision about what you want to do next.

Are you consciously enjoying the dessert? Have you had enough of it? Is the dessert actually making you feel sick? There's no wrong answer here.

Only after you notice the behaviour can you make a conscious decision. If you throw criticism at yourself every time you notice yourself doing something you want to change/modify/alter, it is very likely that you will stop noticing the behaviours because you wind up emotionally abusing yourself.

So here it is: If/when you notice yourself in a habit that is no longer serving you

  1. Pause and take a deep breath
  2. Get curious about it
  3. Ask yourself: Is this serving me now?
  4. In that moment, make a conscious decision about your next step
  5. Make note (mental/journal) of the habit, emotions, what you noticed
  6. Try to notice it next time it appears - because it will appear again!

Namasté
xoxo
~Alannah

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