The air is cool, and the distinct smell of breakfast greets Jeff as he stands there by the water’s edge. He runs a hand across his face and contemplates the three-day stubble that is growing on his cheeks.
There’ll be no shower today. But should he shave? He has resisted shaving every day so far on this camping trip, and the stubble is starting to get itchy.
Giving in, Jeff pulls out his razor, lathers up his face, and begins to shave for the first time in his life without a mirror. He feels like he is fumbling in the dark. He doesn’t know exactly where to place the razor.
In fact, each pass of the razor seems only to meet the previous pass by rough approximation. And when he shows up for breakfast his friends point out in detail all the places that he missed, and all the cuts he managed to inflict upon himself
When You Do The Work On Yourself It’s Like Shaving Without A Mirror
Can it be done? Yes, of course.
But it requires an added level of ability to do with any competence. If you are new to The Work, you can end up missing things, or even hurting yourself.
That’s why we recommend that you don’t write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on yourself, especially when you’re new to The Work.
Here’s An Example Of What I Mean
Earlier this week a client wrote a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on himself and brought it to a facilitation session. One of the one-liners on his worksheet was, “I need to pay my bills on time.”
Now, this may be a valid piece of work, but it is tricky. As you do The Work on this concept, eventually you will get to the turnaround, “I don’t need to pay my bills on time.”
There certainly is truth in this, from the biggest perspective. But if you’re not experienced in The Work, you might think of it as a kind of excuse to not pay your bills on time.
The Work Should Never Be Used As An Excuse To Do Or Not Do Something
This is called doing The Work with a motive. You want something, and you engineer The Work to “give you permission” to do it. This is pure trickery, and brings you no closer to finding your truth, or to experiencing any peace.
The problem with writing Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheets on yourself is that it is sometimes hard to get any separation between your motives and the truth. By contrast, when you write a Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet on someone else, your judgments tend to be less prone to trying to engineer The Work, or using it to get what you want.
As You Gain Experience In The Work You Can Catch This
When you’ve done a lot of worksheets on other people, and you have an understanding of the spirit of The Work (that it’s about taking responsibility), then you can do I-statements when they come up from time to time.
But you will also find that almost always behind the I-statement is a different stressful thought that is not about yourself, but is about someone or something else. We tend to push these thoughts away, or pretend they don’t exist, because we’ve been taught not to judge other people. It’s not nice to judge other people. But it’s ok to judge ourselves, we think.
Say For Example Someone Shows No Interest In You At A Party
You might conclude: “I’m too fat.” And use that thought to do The Work. But underneath that thought are other judgments about other people. For example, “That person over there is too fat.” When you stop and look, you might find that you have lots of judgments about fat people, and thin people. And about people who avoid others at parties.
In other words, when you come up with an I-statement, take a few minutes and look around. Is the self-judgment secondary to a different thought about another person? For example, “She should accept me as I am.”
What is fascinating about judging other people, is that they serve as perfect mirrors for our thinking. When you judge other people, you start to see the parts of yourself that you are hiding from yourself.
If you only do The Work on judgments of yourself, you will limit your judgements to the ones that you are already aware of. But when you do The Work on other people you start to see the things about you that you had no idea that you did.
But Sometimes The Self-Judgement Is Really What You Need To Work
If that is the case, and if you are new to The Work, you may want to work that statement with a facilitator who has experience spotting the difference between motive driven work and work for the love of truth.
I-statements can be good to work, but only if you’re clear about your motives. And only if you’ve tried to find some judgments about the other people that got you into this self-deprecating spiral.
Shaving Is Done Best With A Mirror
And The Work is done best with a judgement about another person or thing. When you do The Work on seemingly unrelated things (other people), you may start to notice that your self-judgements diminish on their own. It seems strange to say, but doing The Work on other people is a shortcut to learning about yourself.
If Jeff had used a mirror when he shaved, he would have ended up with a much cleaner shave. And if you use your judgments about other people as a mirror, you will get a much clearer understanding of yourself than when you try to judge yourself alone.
What is The Work?
Relationship and Family Issues
Money and Job Issues
My Process Exposed