Going Inward

I decided to define the below terms for my own understanding and in doing so I wanted to share because I know I am not alone and others will relate.  Beyond the definitions are my reflections on what these words mean when I apply them to how I think and act.  I hope sharing my thoughts will help you desire to better understand yourself and others with love and acceptance.  I truly believe if we all do this the world would be a kinder place and we as a whole would experience more joy.

Perception: to perceive (apprehend through sight, observe, apprehend through the mind, understand); the ability of the mind to refer sensory information to an external object as its cause; the intuitive recognition of the truth

Projection: a mental image image or preoccupation viewed as an objective reality; the unconscious transfer of one’s own impressions or feelings to external objects or persons.

Perspective: a mental view of the relative importance of things.

Observation: the act of noticing (observe-to watch carefully)

Judgment: the critical faculty, discernment; good sense, opinion, criticism

Discernment: having or showing good judgment or insight

Opinion: a belief or assessment based on grounds short of proof; what one thinks on a particular topic; a formal statement of professional advice.

Objective: external to the mind, real; dealing with outward things or exhibiting facts uncolored by feelings or opinions

Subjective:  a person’s views; proceeding from personal idiosyncrasy or individuality, not impartial or literal

Intention: purpose (reason for acting)

Note: All of these definitions were taken from the Oxford American Dictionary.

I started this specific blog over a year ago as I questioned the difference between what is a judgement and what is an observation.  I was seeking clarity, a better understanding of myself, because I know I can be judgmental, critical and tend to have high expectations of myself and others.  As I revisit this unpublished post, I think I viewed judgmental as a negative, when in fact using judgement (which can also be discernment) is healthy and wise.  I also think I maybe confusing “judgmental” with “opinionated” and I may not be alone.  Maybe my opinions at times turn to negative judgements and that is where I can be hurtful and labeled judgmental or critical with a negative reference.  To use “better judgement” is wise when choosing my own way.  However, to criticize or judge another for how they live their life, while I am free to think and feel how I choose, is potentially harmful and can be devastating to my relationships.   It can be difficult at times to accept differences of all kinds and in those times I need to remember I too am free to live my life how I choose.

There are exceptions of course when dealing with abuse and any act that hurts someone or something.  Those exceptions aside, acceptance is the first step towards understanding differences and learning to be okay with them.  This does not mean I must agree or that I have to change.  To accept people, ideas, beliefs, actions, thoughts or feelings, anything different from what I think/feel is “right” is not an easy practice which is why I am here, reflecting and revising my own perspective.  My current perception is that we as a whole seem to focus more on our differences and that limits us and those around us.  We close our minds and hearts, thinking our way is the only way.  When we encounter people like this we typically become defensive and we no longer want to listen and understand their views or actions.  Instead we focus on changing the other person, be it their beliefs or way of living and this goes back and forth, each party defending their way and trying to change the other.

I have also learned to consider perception and perspective and just how many different ways individuals can perceive the very same situation.  So as I sit in observation of some thing I will likely see, hear, feel and describe it somewhat differently than the person next to me.  So an observation is our sensory experience of the information coming in, it’s that simple and it’s subjective (it’s not fact, it’s filtered through our personal viewpoint).  From my observation I may have thoughts, feelings, the desire or need to act or I may be indifferent.  I may then go on to transfer my thoughts and feelings onto another and not even realize what I am doing isn’t about them, but about me.  The other person maybe a mirror reflecting back at me, my “stuff”, it’s not about them, often times it’s about what is going on inside of me.  Therefore I need to focus not on improving the other person, but on how I can better improve myself.  It is very simple, yet one of my greatest challenges, I have control over ONE thing, ME!  That’s it.  I may have influence over others, but no power to change them.  From here I can begin to shift my perceptions and perspectives in a healthier, positive direction.  That in turn will benefit everyone and free me from the emotional and mental burden I carry when I direct my efforts and energy towards changing others instead of myself.  When I put energy into changes others it is wasted and more and more I value my energy and I need it.

In all of this I am attempting to make my life easier because when I focus on differences I can get stuck.  When I get stuck I am less likely to compromise, forgive, let go, move on or find a solution to a problem, BIG or small.  For this reason I am intentionally directing my efforts on learning to understand myself better, through yoga, my spiritual beliefs, seeking wise counsel from trusted and knowledgeable people, writing, sharing, reading, meditation and prayer.  My hope is when I have a better understanding of Cortney that will translate out into the world and help me understand and accept others.  When I can do this, the struggle, the fight and the desire to change others will disappear and be replaced with true acceptance and unconditional love.  I can then better direct my energy and efforts to what is most meaningful to me: my relationship with God, my family and friends, animals, serving those around me, my work and leaving those around me feeling better.

As I turn my attention inward and begin to focus on self improvement I gain clarity in every aspect of my life: physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  I gain a better understanding of who I am, what I value, what I will accept is okay and what I won’t (and then I learn to set boundaries and that conversation will have to wait for now, but rest assured there is an abundance of information out there on boundaries).  I  then begin to discern my true intentions for my actions, are those intentions pure and good or selfish and manipulative?  Like it or not, life is in a constant state of change.  I can choose to change for the better and see the world around me change for the better or not.  I can choose to trust God has a plan for me and for you and that He made us all different for a reason.  The sooner I whole heartily accept this the easier my life will be and for anyone reading this, if you relate, the same is true for you as well.

26 Comments

  1. Kacie McCulley

    I liked this article because I can be judgmental sometimes and it helped me realize the difference between judgmental and critical. I still need to work on that but at least i know what to work on and how to be a better person.

  2. Mayela Garcia

    This was a fantastic article to read, when you mention: “I truly believe if we all do this the world would be a kinder place and we as a whole would experience more joy.”, I honestly believe that if we could all see the world with a little more persecutive on what is going on around us not only the atmosphere around us but the world as a whole would change for the good.

  3. Ray

    The last paragraph really resonated with me. Thank you. It makes me feel more at peace to know there are people who try to understand but also for the right reasons.

  4. Stephanie Camacho

    I’m really glad I read this article. It was very enlightening and relevant to where I’m at. I believe that we shouldn’t judge anyone and be open to everything. However, judgement comes natural. We are all entitled to our own opinions, they way we portray those opinions to the exterior is what matters. Acceptance is key to healthy living and the way we perceive different situations and challenges. I’m going to keep in mind the questions you ask yourself. It is very refreshing to see people be cognizant of their thinking and what it can do. I enjoyed the article very much because entering the new year, I am greatly going to work on self-improvement. Re-focusing myself is key because I get lost in school sometimes. I am going to do a better job of focusing on the good and replacing the bad with love.

  5. Brishma Johnson

    I agree and do believe that a lot of people have a misunderstanding when it comes to judgment and their opinion. It was nice to read and have more of a thorough explanation on these actions. I also think that the phrase “our way is the only way” is so apparent in our society to where it blurs the lines of ones own opinion. People are so quick to judge and not allow others to be the individuals that they are. Everyone in life acts and lives differently from each other, so to say “only way” for 6 billion people isn’t allowing much room for individuality.

  6. Kincaid McMinn

    There are many gems here. The most obvious one that I noticed, and a lesson that is hard to learn, is that you cannot change other people or their choices. Yes, you can have “influence” over them, but as you mention, you need to take a look at your motivations behind influencing them, and be sure that it you are not coming from a place of greed or fear, lest that influence turn to manipulation. Instead, if you feel greed or fear, as you highlighted, that is usually a reflection of some internal struggle you are experiencing, and instead of blaming others for your pain, look inside. There, you may come to terms and acceptance.

  7. Olavo

    I do a little yoga, alhuotgh a yoga aficionado would probably say I don’t. I’ve found the shoulder stand measurably helps my arhythmia. If I go 2-3 days without doing a shoulder stand, I can tell the difference. In total I may spend 15 minutes a day doing yoga.Looking at the article, yoga appears to be a very safe activity overall. The article pulls up some anecdotes of injuries, but the rate seems quite low. Weight training and running probably have much higher injury rates. When I worked in a health club, it wasn’t unusual for someone to become hyperthermic from sitting in the hot tub. There have been documented deaths from hot tubs.The trick is to not force you body to do what it doesn’t want to do. And, remember that everyone is at least a little different.As for vegetarians,vegans, gluten free,… and tea drinkers, these people are usually on massive ego trips and the practice of the “discipline” is solely to feed their egos.

  8. Thomas C.

    “My current perception is that we as a whole seem to focus more on our differences and that limits us and those around us. We close our minds and hearts, thinking our way is the only way.”

    This is an interesting observation. As I was reflecting on this quote, my own perceptions and thoughts came forth, derived directly from my own individual experiences. Those thoughts itself inspired a stray thought to come across my mind, is the differences that we notice in others and in general a attempt to maintain our own individuality or a defense mechanism to fortify and give value our unique experiences?

    It’s funny to notice when I was child I was extremely out going and open about virtually anything, but as I got older those tendencies faded, my experiences were fine-tuning my perception, so to say.
    I honestly cannot think of a solid answer. To keep my train of thoughts to a minimum I will summarize it. The human mind’s primary function is to survive, anything that can compromise our own perception of “survival”, wether its physical, emotional, or mental, the mind will do anything in its power to set up defensives against those threats. I think the challenge is to acknowledge the mind’s attempts for safekeeping its host’s well-being, but not letting it directly dictate the path that could or could not be taken solely on the premise of experience.

  9. Abby Hardwick

    In this article I agreed how judgement or opinions can be linked with negatively but its wise to have high expectations especially if you are still shooting for a greater goal. Without realizing the opinion of others you will not see the importance of how you want to represent yourself. But I do agree sometimes it can go a little far where it is more harmful than helpful. So it is always good to realize that you can not change people with criticism but maybe instead influence them by how you represent yourself. Example if you always treat people with kindness and respect they will want to return the favor with you or maybe they will even want to change how they treat other people as well.

  10. Rachel

    I can relate to this whole article. I tend to stand firm on my beliefs and opinions and not accept other peoples beliefs and opinions. I am working on that. I’m also working on not being judgmental and focusing on finding Rachel. Thank you for posting this article.

  11. Renate Morehouse

    Love this article and I can relate. I have high expectations for myself and admittedly expect the same from my siblings. I push myself to achieve more and it drives me nuts when I see a family member, as I see it, settle for less then the best that life has to offer. Its taken me a long time to realize that is just my opinion, my truth and my place in the world isn’t necessarily something they would enjoy or want for themselves. They are happy and healthy and I have no right to judge their life as being ‘less then awesome’.

  12. Sarah Cole

    This is a meaningful piece of writing, it encourages a focus on your perception and perspective.

  13. alyssa goncalo

    i love this article because my brother struggles with OCD and anxiety and i read this to him. Its hard to live with these disabilities. As a family we try our best to help him through these tough times while he goes through high school. we tell him not to worry about other and focus on making himself the best he can be.

  14. Logan Freeman

    After reading this article I was very enlightened, as I have been dealing with some personal emotional issues myself. Before I started practicing yoga I was only thinking about the way it will help me physically and not even realizing what kind of other benefits would come from it spiritually or emotionally. As the end of the semester has grown closer I have started to notice my anxiety levels increase (as any college student would at this point in the semester) and my understanding of who Logan is decrease. As I read this article I could mostly relate to the last paragraph where Cortney talks about making improvements inwards on herself, because that is what kind of goal I am setting for myself. I am hoping to use what I have learned in my yoga classes to improve myself from the inside out, rather than just on the outside (physically) as I was at the beginning of the semester. I believe that there is a plan for me, and by making a decision to start practicing yoga I believe that it was a small part of my plan that i will be able to use as I improve myself emotionally and spiritually.

  15. Camden Williams

    I think living in a world constantly changing and moving around us as individuals can make it difficult not to get caught up in some of the negativity seen everyday. To me, espicially after having a child, it was the uncrontrollable factor of everyone else that worried me the most. Watching the news could even be difficult at times because more than half of the reports are things like terrorists threats and black lives matter movements. I personally suffered from anxiety for a long period of time and I found that true peace came from inside also. I found that just 10 minutes of stillness each morning to quiet my mind and create peace within myself before stepping out the door relieved that anxiety I had before. I couldnt really pin point an individual segment that resignated the most with me because pretty much all of it did. Wow another great article!

  16. Macy Miller

    This article helped me a lot, I tend to think my way or the highway kind of and I don’t listen very much to what others believe or want and reading this I realized I should take time to listen to others and maybe be more accepting of how other people are.

  17. Shaene McAfee

    We are so quick to look around us and be critical of someone else when sometimes we need to take a step back and look at ourselves in order to be the best person we can be.

  18. Lexi Johnson

    I think everyone projects unconscious judgement upon others as well as themselves. It’s an ongoing practice for me as well to suspend those tendencies and to draw my attention more inward as well. It’s important to be accepting of others’ choices and behaviors and to not allow things we disagree with clutter our minds. Loved this post!

  19. Tiffany John

    So True! We always tend to just want what we want and become more judge mental to other people. Always take a look and yourself first before judging.

  20. Julie Thompson

    It is funny that I would come across this article because I was just doing a bit of research on this same topic a few days ago. I can definitely relate to this when it comes to wanting to change other people to fit my lifestyle better. After telling someone very close to me ridiculous things such as, “You should spend your money on better things”, or, “You should stop starting conversations in this particular way”, it made me realize that the small “issues” that were bothering me are completely harmless. Everybody spends their money in different ways, and every ones character is different which influences the way they communicate. It is called personality. Once I was thinking rationally, I apologized. I love this person just the way they are. Of course, people in a relationship can grow and change together in union for the better, but I would never want to change a fundamental character trait about this person, I know if I no longer had them, I would kill to have every small thing about them back once more.

  21. Dylan A Rich

    Very insightful. Allows an individual to take a step back and realize that we all have flaws that we are quick to judge others on. We are all human beings with many flaws that just come to us naturally. We are an imperfect race, that is quick to point out the flaws in others in order to makes ourselves feel better our own flaws. People should remember to take a third-party point of view on situations, and not only see what they want to see, but the entire situation as a whole.

  22. MacKenzie King

    I found this information helpful because its actually things we deal with everyday in society. I think it would have an overall positive way of living a better life. In other words, when you focus on your inner self you tend to let that energy come off of you. Focusing on who you are as a person then applying it to your everyday routine.

  23. Shree

    I enjoyed to read this article because it is so enlightening. There are many different patterns and factors of interaction in relationship. I need to have a broader outlook on life in times of turmoil and stress; I need to be able to see the big picture. I need to be able to differentiate when someone is actually accusing me of something I did rather than projecting their own insecurities and problems onto me. I need to keep counts of everyone’s perspective, not just mine.

    1. Shree

      *I enjoyed reading

  24. Alberto Angarita

    Thank you for this piece… I particularly enjoyed this one because I have had similar thoughts like this in the past and questions that I ask myself. I believe that judgement is inevitable to some degree, it’s human nature to judge people and things… without judgement people could find themselves in very unpleasant situations.

  25. Shelby Vaughan

    I agree with you focusing on yourself and less about what is going on around you. That is when you start becoming more enligned with your higher potential as a individual.

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