08/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Ask Maddisen: How To Love Rather Than Lead By Example

Dear Maddisen,
I am a person with strong convictions and try to live my life in accordance with them. Most notably I am a stay-at-home mom practicing attachment parenting and gentle discipline. So often in my daily life I encounter other parents and caregivers who are not so compassionate in the way they interact with their children. I have a strong desire to try to enlighten these people and it's a fight to keep my opinions to myself. As I reflect on my question, I see that there are other areas in my life where my judgment of others and my wish to voice my beliefs to them, eats up my own energy and peace of mind. I also find that this prevents me from connecting with these people in an authentic way.

My question is how do I let go of my judgments of others and trust that leading by example is enough to impact the world?

Thanks for your guidance,

Dear RA,

What a well thought out question. Thank you. I wonder if you see what I see -- that your answer is implied in your question! Let's take a closer look. My intention here is to assist you in releasing judgment so that you can reclaim your precious energy and peace of mind, connect more deeply with people, and share your truth with others for the sake of your own enlightenment.

I've had the opportunity to observe a close friend practicing "attachment parenting" with her little one, so I can understand how you might notice differences between your approach and the ways of other parents. However, as you so astutely pointed out, the issue here is not really about right and wrong ways to raise children. The issue is how your judgment, in general, is bringing up unwanted feelings of unhappiness and separation.

Let's get right into the process of addressing your question. You'll want to set aside some quiet time for yourself, grab a pen and paper or use your computer, and follow these steps:

Replace Judgment with Love

Step 1: Identify your judgments of others

In relation to the issue, what are the judgments and/or beliefs about the parents and others, which come forth into your conscious mind? Write down all of your judgments and beliefs in a list format. Don't filter, let it all out.

For example, might you have judgments of others relating to compassion, awareness, knowing better, ignorance, etc.?

Step 2: Identify your judgments of yourself
In relation to the issue, what are your judgments and/or beliefs about yourself? Write down all of your judgments and beliefs in a list format. Don't filter, let it all out.

For example, might you have judgments of yourself relating to speaking your truth, trust, self compassion, being unique, etc.?

Be patient and loving with yourself, and move to the next step when ready.

Step 3: Apply self forgiveness

With your lists of judgments/beliefs, move into Self Forgiveness, incorporating the judgments into the phrasing below. Make this an audible process, meaning say these phrases out loud. Forgive yourself first, and then you can forgive others.

Start with the expression: "I forgive myself for judging myself for..." or "I forgive myself for judging myself as...", and then add whatever the judgments are.

For example, "I forgive myself for judging myself for not speaking my truth with others." Or, "I forgive myself for judging myself as separate from others." Or "I forgive myself for judging others as unenlightened or ignorant." Etc.

Note: RA, what I'm sensing too is that you might even hold yourself in a hug while you practice self forgiveness, imagining that you're holding your inner child. Let her know that you love her unconditionally and that you're there for her 100%.

Take as much time as you need for this. Go deep, be thorough, and be genuine.

Step 4: What's really true for you?
Once you feel complete with the self forgiveness, follow with this phrasing: "Because the truth is...", and then add the positive traits you know or sense to be true about yourself and others. Be creative and go for the gusto.

For example, "Because the truth is it's safe for me to speak my loving truth with others." Or, "Because the truth is we are all unique and want to connect authentically with each other." Etc.

Take your time to breathe in and bask in these loving and empowering truths.

Moving forward in love
All judgments -- of self and others -- create separation and unhappiness. Knowing this, we have the power to identify the judgments, forgive the judgments, and then replace the judgments with love and our loving truths; thus reclaiming our peace of mind and higher states of energy, and opening the door to deeper relationships based on authentic intimacy and sharing.

Self forgiveness removes all obstructions caused by judgment, returning you home to your true nature -- which is Love. Self forgiveness promotes healing, self integration, self acceptance, self love, love for life, and love for others.

Although I wholeheartedly agree that raising children with infinite and authentic love and respect is the path of highest good, what's most important here, RA, is that you practice "attachment parenting" for the sake of your child and your own enlightenment, and not necessarily to teach or enlighten others.

Let your own light shine, and in doing so, you will be giving other people permission to do the same. Commit yourself to loving by example rather than leading by example. And from this loving and centered stance, may you experience the peace of mind and inspired energy to enthusiastically express your truth and connect more intimately with others.

Your Coach, Maddisen

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