We all have some habitual thought patterns. What I mean is that we develop habits to process information in certain ways that become well established habits. In general, given our negativity bias — you know, the one that states that “the brain works like velcro for the negative and teflon for the positive” — we tend to think in negative ways more often. We habitually criticize, judge, and condemn.
The mind engages in the Eight C’s process a lot, if not all the time. Comparing and contrasting, categorizing and classifying, competing and complaining, criticizing and condemning, are all habitual behaviors.
Let’s ponder for a while. Aren’t we unceasingly comparing and contrasting how things and people are with our beliefs of how they should be. “She should do this. He should do that. I don’t approve her behavior. I don’t like the way he is. Do I like this, or not? Looking at these two, which one I prefer: this one or that one?”
We are also constantly classifying and categorizing, in other words, labeling, putting things and people in this or that specific class or category. “I like this. I don’t like that. This goes over here, together with the things that I like. This goes in that shelf, together with those I dislike. That one goes in that drawer. This one, in that file.” Unfortunately, once we have made up our minds of what goes where — for example, which group, in our minds, an individual belongs to — we begin to live with our ideas about them, not with the reality of whom they are. We don’t see them; what we process in our minds are our ideas of them.
And then comes criticism, judgement, and condemnation. “She should not act like this. He should not talk like that. This car in front of me is moving too slow; it should go faster. This car that just passed me is moving too fast; the driver is speeding. He should slow down. I hope a cop gets him.”
When we criticize others — which happens most of the time — we unconsciously engage in a mind-created competition in which we compare ourselves with others and invariably, although unconsciously, declare ourselves to be the winners. “He is not as good as I am. I am much better.” And untrained minds are constantly complaining.
Finally, we become those presumptuous and self-righteous judges, and we proclaim our verdicts, condemning others: “Guilty! Irredeemable! Sentenced to punishment!”
It is a very seductive process, very easy to get in, and difficult to get out. It is an unconscious and therefore not easily perceptible way of processing information. Fortunately, mindfulness practice allows us to see how often we are lost in the eight C’s and how easily we put ourselves on pedestals, high above others, from where we judge and condemn everyone and everything.
As my teacher says, “You cannot fix what you cannot see. You cannot heal what you cannot feel. You cannot tame what you cannot name.” So, let us be more mindful and notice when we are comparing, contrasting, categorizing, classifying, competing, complaining, criticizing, and condemning. By doing so, we can begin to tame those negative tendencies.
Let’s be mindful.
Let’s remember that the mind is trainable. Let’s practice ways of developing more positive thinking habits. Let’s notice and reduce the time we spend with the eight C’s. Let’s give ourselves more time to intentionally notice the good that is all around us. Allow it to be noticed. Allow yourself the time to notice it. Appreciate it. Linger and savor, and finally absorb it, taking it in.
Let’s go ahead and do it! Just do it!
Piero Falci is an author and educator who believes that the inner work that leads to personal awakening and transformation is indispensable to create a wholesome world. He is an explorer of the mysteries of life who loves to observe, reflect, and write, and who not only strives to live a life that matters, but also hopes to inspire others to do the same. He is a promoter of peace who believes in advancing the idea that Heaven is here if we want it to be. He teaches mindfulness meditation, mindful living, and the acclaimed Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program as taught at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare, and Society of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. He organizes Silent Peace Walks.
Take a look at these books at the Peaceful Ways online store
– “Peaceful Ways – The Power of Making Your Wishes Come True”
– “Pay Attention! Be Alert! Discovering Your Route to Happiness”
– “Silent Peace Walk”