You Gotta See this! (To judge or not to judge, that is the question):

I am not sure if it is the “February blaws” or the snow storms in the past few weeks that have sparked some “spectator UN-intelligence”.  And the emotional control, does not seem to be isolated to the arena as a woman is charged over shoveling snow, and another who looses her cool over a seat on a city bus.

I don’t know about you, but my immediate judgement on this was “oh common on, seriously….who does that…”.  ERRRRCH, put the brakes on here.  I am in the business of teaching people about personal leadership and tote the mantra of learning to lead yourself before you lead others, and my first instinct was to judge, make assumptions about what happened, and put myself at a higher level then what I read in the articles.

Judging others and judging ourselves seems to be a part of being human.  We need to judge to improve, judge if it is a good decision or not, judge others to make ourselves feel better.  The list goes on and on.

So how in the world, can we watch a game impartially, or without judgment?  Maybe, we can learn a lesson from nature.  A daisy doesn’t judge a dandelion.  They both just exist and do their thing.

(Side note…I just did a huge judgement as I wrote this!!  I wrote dandelion, and my thoughts went like this “you can’t write dandelion, because it is a weed, and people will say hey – they are different, it’s a weed.”  So I took out dandelion, and wrote tulip.  “Damn it! There it is I judged the dandelion and the tulip…put dandelion back in there!”)  A span of 5 seconds or less….multiple judgments on my part.

In the book Thinking Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahnman describes the brain in two distinct parts. System 1  and System 2. System 2 is the analytical part of the brain, where we need to slow down and think to solve a problem for example, where as System 1 is the part of the brain that thinks quick.  “System 1 continuously monitors what is going on outside and inside the mind, and continuously generates assessments of various aspects of the situation without specific intention, little or no effort,” states Kahnman.  He goes on to explain that “System 1 was designed by the evolutionary process, to provide ongoing assessments to problems that organisms must solve to survive.”

Our brains scan for threats every 5 seconds, and are subconsciously answer such questions to survive such as: How are things going? Is everything normal? Should I approach or avoid?  This is a basic function of the theory of evolution. We make every decision based on a reward or a threat.  Is it safe or unsafe?   This of course is critical when the saber tooth tiger is behind the next tree, but perhaps not so necessary when sitting in arena seat.  Unfortunately, our brains have not evolved since the prefrontal cortex was formed (also known as the executive brain – positioned at the front of the head in the forehead region) over 40,000 years ago.

So when someone says to me, you shouldn’t judge or don’t be so judgmental (as I was when I read the above articles), it is hard for me not too.  However, I can tap into System 2, my conscious brain to support me in my “judginess”, because it is not about safe/unsafe.

Try this to start to engage System 2:

 See if you can catch yourself judging the following:

  • A nice goal
  • A great save
  • A bad play
  • A good call

Now are you starting to see the judgement? Did you notice the existing judgement in my statements above?  A goal is a goal (we don’t care how pretty it is) and this should be the same when the ref makes a call.

If you are struggling (and I can guarantee you it will be….40,000 years of pre programming is hard to break), try putting your attention on something else while you watch the game.

Try this:

Watch the game and focus your attention on your hands (you are not looking at your hands, still watch the game, but keep your attention on your hands).  Feel your hands as you watch the game. You may feel them start to tingle, even get warm.   Keep your attention there for as long as you can.  This will help you understand how to watch a game with contentment and impartially.

Now try this watching your own player.  Watch your athlete with your attention on your hands.  Keep it there throughout the nice goals, the great saves, the bad play and the good call.

Or Try this:

If you are the more reactive type, and can’t help yourself by throwing out a few “gentle reminders or instructions” to your team, ref or coach, try this:

A technique from Gabrielle Bernstein and her book “The Universe has Your Back”.  Using your hand:

  1. Place your thumb and your pointer finger together,
  2. Then your thumb and your middle finger together,
  3. Then your thumb and 4th finger,
  4. And then thumb and pinkie

The words that go with each finger are:

  1. Peace
  2. Be
  3. With
  4. Me

Or my personal favourite:

  1. What
  2. Not
  3. To
  4. Yell