The last few days, I've been thinking a lot about freedom and judgement.
First, I watched The Most Powerful Video on Spirituality and Happiness - Rare Eckhart Tolle Teaching - Must See . In it, Tolle reassures his interviewer that, as a human he will always think bad thoughts so he doesn't need to feel guilty about that. Simply observe the thought without judging yourself. Like any other thought, by the time you have noticed, it is already gone. Since hearing that, some of the most colorful epitaphs have jumped into my brain. Words I haven't heard or used since high school. Juvenile, ridiculous words that paint pictures I can now laugh at instead of scolding myself. I'm free to be a human without judging myself for not being a saint.
Second, I asked one of my clients what she liked to do for fun. She mentioned a video game and I asked what the game was like. There was a long moment of silence which was followed by her saying very quietly, "Well, there's a lot of shooting."
I knew she thought I would say "No, no! You should stay away from violence!" For one thing, she expects to be judged. She judges herself constantly. She expects someone who is her "life coach" to judge her and tell her everything she is doing wrong. She, in turn, will make note of what I said, still do it, but try to do it less and every time she does do it, she will judge herself and use it as an excuse for why her life isn't turning out how she would like it to be.
I just don't deserve it because I still play violent video games.
I just don't deserve it because I call people "d^ck wads" to myself in traffic.
Instead of telling her to quit playing her violent video game, I told her I watch The Walking Dead.
Speaking of which, that show had a tremendously violent scene this week. Humans, not walkers, were beaten to death. Afterwards, on The Talking Dead, a small panel discussed whether that was indicative of a less kind, less gentle Rick Grimes (the show's main character,) in the future.
Honestly, it reminded me of a technique I saw Iyanla Vanzant use on the discontinued tv show, Starting Over. The show was a sort of Celebrity Rehab (sans the celebrities) meets The Real World or Big Brother. Women, who weren't happy with the direction their lives were going, lived in a house together and enjoyed the help of life coaches and psychologists in exchange for allowing the sessions to be filmed. In one session, Vanzant instructed a former abuse victim to hit things with a pillow. By things, I mean the floor and other pillows. It was interesting. She started hitting very softly, almost reluctantly. By the time she was finished, however, she was sobbing and seemed to have exhausted herself, as well as whatever energy she had trapped inside of herself as suppressed anger. At least that's how the edited version for television looked.
In The Walking Dead, the characters killed were cannibals who kept justifying their behavior like this: "We were good in the beginning. We helped people. But then some people came along and treated us badly."
Hmmm. So you ate them?
Meanwhile, Rick Grimes group, has had lots of bad treatment themselves, including having one of their members lose his leg to a group of cannibals. Yet time and time again the group struggles with how they need to behave to be good and "in the right." They put their fictional lives in danger saving other fictional characters. Rather than making me feel angry or negative or violent, The Walking Dead usually inspires me to like my fellow humans just a little bit more. After all, we don't get to see real people be magnanimous, brave or caring in such extreme circumstances and while those characters aren't real, the actors portraying them, as well as the writers writing their scripts, are.
I told my client I knew she expected me to vote against the violence and shooting in her video game. I told her how I have sometimes felt I would be judged for watching The Walking Dead, owning a television set, or still reading fictional books instead of a solitary and steady diet of coaching materials. I told her I didn't think it really mattered what a person does along those lines or what other people think about what they are doing. As far as I can see, only two things matter.
First, the spirit in which you do the things you do. Are you having fun? If you're playing a violent video game where people get shot, and you are yelling "that one's for my boss!" and "this one's for my mother!" That doesn't seem to be a very healthy way to live.
Of course, there's Vanzant and Starting Over, so maybe once in awhile we do benefit from a mini hissy fit via a pillow fight with objects or video game guns. Probably, though, we could expend that same energy with a good workout at the gym or a brisk walk or run. At the same time, if we find ourselves routinely needing to do that, maybe we need to consider that rather than simply whether or not we should play a violent video game.
On the other hand, if you play that game, laughing, teasing your fellow players and calling them "newbs." If you're happy playing, rather than secretly nurturing every grudge you've ever had against anyone, maybe it isn't such a bad thing.
You see, emotion is everything. Just like sarcasm in print or on the internet, your subconscious doesn't know when you are kidding. It takes its cues from your emotions. The fourth step to the Law of Attraction is to Nevillze (a Joe Vitale term to honor an earlier Law of Attraction pioneer, Neville Goddard) or feel as if you already enjoy all of the things you dream about. So, in theory, playing a video game which you genuinely feel happy playing, would be a helpful tool to that end. But, playing one while nurturing and fantasizing about all of your hurt feelings and grievances, would just help deliver more things to feel hurt about.
Doing things with a positive spirit is life changing and makes a huge difference.
The second thing I think matters is whether or not you judge yourself. As Eckhart Tolle pointed out, we're human. Sometimes we are going to think bad thoughts, waste valuable time, eat unhealthy food and do or say something stupid. We are human. We are not perfect. To the best of our understanding, we are spiritual creatures having a human experience. We're supposed to be human. We're not supposed to be perfect.
When you think of it that way, if we never had a Homer Simpson, "Doh!" moment in our lives, we might just be wasting that experience.
As Maude, another fictional character, in this case from the 70's cult classic Harold and Maude and one of my personal mentors before I had ever heard of Eckhart Tolle, said, "Harold, everyone has the right to make an ass of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." And "Reach out. Take a chance. Get hurt, even! Play as well as you can. Go team! GO! Give me an L! Give me an I! Give me a V! Give me an E! L. I. V. E. LIVE! Otherwise, you got nothing to talk about in the locker room."