a couple years ago i went to a training about shame. my instructor, a brilliant man, instructed us to listen to that voice in our head that berates, name-calls, hates. he said, “try replacing the ‘i’ in the statement with ‘you.'” so, instead of saying, “i’m such an idiot” i would then say to myself “you’re such an idiot.” this voice, he said, is The Judge.
when i did this exercise, what happened was unexpected. i could feel the sadness underneath The Judge’s cruel words. i could connect to that soft space inside that’s just so sweetly sad. it wasn’t a sadness about what The Judge was saying, it was the deeper sadness that The Judge was working to conceal. after all, if i’m focused on that voice i’m not tapping into the current of sadness running within me.
this is how The Judge works. or The Critic. whatever you want to name it, it’s job in your psyche is to protect. when i’m connected to the sadness, i’m vulnerable. when i’m connected to the sadness, life slows down and i feel the repressed grief from unprocessed experiences and transitions, the grief of a lifetime, the grief of being human. when we can name The Judge for what it is, we become something else. we’re no longer embodying this toxic energy; no, we’re recognizing it as the character that it is.
when we can connect to this place of genuine sadness, there’s a sweetness to it, like i mentioned earlier. i think it’s because it neighbors love, and kindness, and compassion. it’s the home of true feeling, and when we can visit with sadness we’re only a step away from joy, and excitement, and the whole clan of feelings. it’s not the sadness about, but the sadness because. because one day everyone and everything i love will be gone. because one day we’ll have to say goodbye. because this day (hour, minute, second) is over, and i’ll never get it back.
we cling to what inevitably will slip through our fingers. and yet clenching a fistful of sand only squeezes it out faster. when we can open and hold, rest with things as they are while knowing one day the winds of time will blow it all away, we will get to enjoy it all that much more. The Judge would rather keep this knowledge a secret, though, hence its harsh ways and attempts to divert our attention. but The Judge has its own shadow, the disowned part that lies underground, and it’s sadness. the sweet, sweet, sadness that’s deserving of some light.