Monday Motivation

Monday Motivation: On judgment, proselytizing, and understanding intentions.

I have learned a lot from my friends in the past few weeks. I have learned just how important it can be to have people around you who can help you to work through problems, figure out behavior patterns you’ve made into habits or part of your personality that you’d like to change, and how to talk about solutions. These are some big things about which to be thinking. I’d venture to guess that many of us never stop to think about why we are the way we are, if we even like those qualities in ourselves, or if we’d rather work on them to help ourselves to grow and change as time moves on. I’ve found myself examining parts of my personality closely over the last several years, and I want to share with you some of the key learnings I’ve had.

Passing Judgment

Passing judgement is one of the trickiest topics/habits to broach, and I’m sure no one is perfect or can say that they never do it even if they don’t do it often. That said, making a conscious effort to recognize that we can love and respect people around us for who they are and allow them to make decisions for themselves about their own lives is, in my opinion, one of the most liberating things we can do.

Think about this: once you relinquish any real attachment to whether or not another person says, does or chooses something in particular for themselves is SO liberating. It’s not YOUR life, so why should you get a say – to their face or otherwise – in how they move along within it? That’s not to say that you can’t or won’t offer advice when asked, but that’s just the thing, if you’re not asked, don’t concern yourself with their choice. I’ve worked very hard on removing pre-formed or even present judgement of people in my life. That doesn’t mean I have to agree with every decision they make, but I make a conscious effort to engage in activity with them with a warm heart and from a place of love, rather than of one where I’m constantly disapproving of how they live their lives.

Proselytising a Lifestyle

Clearly as a nutritionist who is paid to work with clients 1:1 on how to make diet and lifestyle changes to improve a person’s health, my conversations with clients or workshop attendees can be vastly different from the way that I conduct conversations amongst my friends. Of course, many of my friends share the views and education that I do around these topics, and with those friends, the conversation can often be about the shared passion that we have for living a healthy lifestyle, but it’s certainly not all we talk about. When it comes to friends (many of whom have been in my life for  5, 10, 15, 20 or even 25 years – yes, I have some friends from that long ago!), the conversations do not constantly revolve around the way I eat nor around how I think they should eat. That is, if they don’t ask.

Seriously, there are TONS of other things to talk about that can be fun, interesting, entertaining or important. Just because I am passionate about and interested in health and nutrition doesn’t mean it’s the only thing I can or want to talk about all day long. And the last thing I want to do is sit around and preach to my friends every day about how they should be living their lives. Plus, many of them already read my blog or follow me on Facebook (nice of them, isn’t it?), so they’re aware of the things I do, teach and preach. If they are interested, and sometimes they are, they ask questions. Sometimes they ask general questions, or sometimes it’s a complaint about a specific personal problem and I’ll happily respond or engage in conversation around the topic, but otherwise, it’s not my place to tell them what to choose.

Understanding Intentions

Often understanding the intentions of others means putting some of our own sensitivities aside for a moment and doing a bit of reflection on where a person’s heart is when they speak to you. Do you know that they love and care about you deeply? Did they say something that was possibly hurtful but it was not their intention? The point of understanding intentions is not to let someone off-the-hook for saying something that is mean-spirited, but rather the opposite: to recognize when someone is speaking to you from a place of love even if the message isn’t one that you would have thought was loving or supportive. This is where surrounding yourself with the right people becomes pretty important. Clearly if you aren’t sure of someone’s intentions, then this becomes difficult. But if you are surrounded by loving, caring, supportive people (and this doesn’t have to mean they’re mushy-gushy and sweet all of the time), then you know that their intentions will be in the right place when you interact. I’ve had this happen to me and I’m certain that it’s happened as a result of things I’ve said as well. The best way I’ve figured out how to navigate in a situation where feelings (mine or otherwise) may be hurt, I come back to considering intentions and can typically find the love in the situation.

The New Psychology of Achievement
I think Brian Tracy’s

work is really helpful

for personal development.

Wow, this is a sort of touchy-feely post, isn’t it?

I know it’s not about food, some kind of tasty recipe or funny rant. Balancing how much value we put on things like food and exercise with how much we value personal development and how we related to those around us is pretty important to me. I hope you enjoyed reading this and can reflect on some of the things that you do on a regular basis that you may not mean to do. And, please note, I’m not, by any means, claiming to have figured all of this stuff out. Don’t misunderstand this post in that way. I’m merely trying to share some things I’ve learned in recent years that I think might help some other people to reflect on some things in their own lives.

18 thoughts on “Monday Motivation: On judgment, proselytizing, and understanding intentions.

  • I love what you said about passing judgement. I'm working on this all the time. I hate to judge because most likely something will make me change my mind later and then I'm a hypocrite.

    I'm working on this as I become an adult. Okay I'm almost 30 😉

  • Great blog post! I think that many of us as paleo eaters want to help others. S a result I constantly find myself judging others eating habits. I only want to help but Ive been dubed the paleo nazi by my wife.

  • Diane @ Balanced Bites says:

    I hear that! I certainly do have a bit of a more harsh approach with my parents, for example, since I feel a great sense of responsibility to share the best possible information with them. At the end of the day, however, we can't want change for other people- they have to want it for themselves!

  • SUCH a great post. Thank you, Diane. I agree with Mike- I try SO HARD not to be a Paleo Nazi and really try to not talk about the way I eat unless I'm asked. It's hard but I try to put myself in their place and I wouldn't want someone preaching to me so why would they want me preaching to them? All we can do is lead by example and give information when asked. The rest is up to the individual.

  • That's so true: when you have this knowledge, you are really wanting to help people. A lot just plain don't want to hear it, and some don't believe it, especially those who only get their information from news shows, magazines, and doctors.

    This morning, I had to switch my brain off and not talk about what each of us was putting in the cart when my sister-in-law and I were grabbing a few groceries together. She's just starting now to not be eating so many chips, candy, etc., and so she was stocking up a bit on her "diet food" – fat-free bottled who-knows-what's-in-it dressings, bread crumbs for a recipe, Crystal Light, and some other non-foods. She knows me, and if she wants my information, she'll know I'll tell her, so I definitely don't dole out any advice unless asked.

    There are also the people who don't ever exercise or eat differently specifically for health, but ONLY for trying to lose weight (this person is the latter, and she is up front about it).
    My mother-in-law just got put on statins, as well *sigh* don't get me started. My dad and brother (who is younger than me) are both on them.

  • Very nice post, for me I think it fits the bill perfectly to you blog, your blog is about health and healthy living, healthy living extends beyond only that which we put in our mouth, not mention more often not how we eat is reflected in what we think and what we feel.

    I will say one thing about passing judgment, most of us do that, however I have also learned a certain difference in judging and learning, I have found in my life that at times taking someone elses choice in a certain circumstance and injecting myself in it, considering the choice they have made, why they made the choice they made, what the consequence may be and more importantly what choice I would make in the same situation and why. Can lead to greater empathy and knowledge. Though the line between self improvement and judging is fairly thin in this case.

    Though I do hold by "a smart person learns by their mistakes, a wise persons learns by others mistake as well"

  • Great post! True health has everything to do with self development. We use Brian Tracy all the time in our self development program at lululemon, its good stuff! Andy Andrews is my personal favorite for self development material.

    I find my self battling with judgment of friends and family that aren't on the paleo train. Friends and family are always the hardest to convince. You are right, its exhausting to try to convert them if they have no desire to do so. It's hard because you love them and want them to be healthy but at the same time, it is their life. I have had better success when I respect the decisions that they make and wait for them to ask. Yes I will be obnoxious with the way I live and make sure that everyone knows what I'm doing to be healthy but I won't criticize them for their choices.

  • I really like this post- I get so excited about this lifestyle and try to be conscious of how I talk to people about it.
    I have a couple friends that get excited about things they feel knowledgeable about, and sometimes come across really condescending :/ After noticing that, I thought "Wow, that's such a turnoff; I need to make sure I don't act that way!"

  • I loved reading this post! I have been thinking about the judgement thing myself just recently, its something that I know I have to make a concious effort with but I agree that it is liberating. Friendships should be based on varied interests and I am really glad that I still have good friends who are not into fitness and healthy living in the same way that I am. It makes life more interesting and keeps me grounded too. I just hope that my friends all know that I love them for who they are and don’t judge them. I will keep working on this area – thanks for writing about this 🙂

  • This is a good one D! I grew up with a lot of criticism and judgment… later in my life i found i was constantly judging myself and others, attaching myself to their bad choices… of course, if i’m judging myself, i will also judge others, so i’ve been turning it around… i’m working on not judging anyone, not attaching myself to their choices, and this has been helping me not judge myself. It’s a process, but being aware of it is making such a huge difference! Articles like this one, presenting irrefutable logic, provide great motivation to keep letting go and liberating myself from all that emotional baggage. Man, it’s heavy.. i don’t wanna carry that stuff around!!! Thanks for posting this 🙂

  • LOVE this post, thank you. As a nutritionist myself, the one area I get uncomfortable is around friends or family who feel they have to justify the choices they are making even though I never open my mouth. I tell them I do not look at or judge what others around me do unless they have specifically asked.
    Your advice and insight, is once again, spot on.

  • It’s so hard sometimes, not to try and convert my friends and family to paleo by way of force. Nice of me, right? It is especially hard when one day they are complaining about a slow metabolism or constant headaches one day an the next they tell me they drink a twelve pack of soda daily, have no intake of vegetables and “know” that the headaches and slow metabolism have nothing to do this their diet. I just want to shake them an scream at them “If you would just listen to me your problems would be solved!” I have never done it, but boy I sure feel like it sometimes.
    I like the focus of this post. So often we neglect to consider mental and emotional well being and happiness as a part of health.

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