I blazed a trail up the red rocks in hopes of solitude and existential epiphanies. The soil was coarse and red, staining my hiking boots as I traveled upward. Recent snow and melt off from the towering mountains caused the path to appear darker as I walked, causing more wet soil to gather on my gear. Not soon after, I found myself dodging puddles, walking around saturated areas of dark maroon colored mud until I could go no further. As I walked I became distracted thinking of a friend I was frustrated with. I found I had entered into a mud pit that I could not escape from, literally and physically. My boots had become stuck in the sludge and my attempt to walk further was futile.
Fortunately, my hiking buddy was meters behind and had noticed my predicament. With a chuckle in her voice, she called ahead to see if I was alright. "I'm stuck" I announced, quite irritated with my current situation. I had plans to go further, but the road ahead only lead to more murky ground.
She approached with a large stick and a sarcastic smile on her face. "Didn't you see where you were headed?" she asked. I glared at her underneath my cap in hopes that she would catch my disgust.
As she dug me out, boots and all, we began to laugh. I had needed her help if I wanted to get out of there without falling face first into the muddy mess I was in. There was no way around it.
Like the red rock path, thoughts of my troubled relationship trekked beyond the soil, the wet dirt and ended up in the mud and muck of a very hurtful place called judgment. Again, I needed to elicit help to get out. Judgment had sucked me down to a place I could not reconcile on my own. I needed outside assistance, someone who had watched me walk the forbearing path, understood my desire to want to go further and could help me without putting me in a place of shame.
Our hiking excursion to the red rock path was enlightening in many ways. I learned that we all venture too far sometimes, in the hopes of feeling better about ourselves by making up a story that puts the other person in a negative light, leaving us only to feel frustrated and angry.
The key is to create a compassionate story in place of the negative fantasy fiction that we default to each and every time. If you struggle in doing this, you may need to elicit help from an outsider. Find and create a support system that will walk meters behind you, watch you take each step and be there for you when you find yourself entrapped in the muck of judgment and anger.
- By Cathy Braxton, Chief Education Officer
Judgment, one of the four pillars of empathy that we discuss in depth is something that we wrestle with on a daily basis. Out hope is that these stories will help to guide you down the path of staying out of judgment.
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