A small step taken without judgment can change your world.

On the journey I’ve been on the last month, it’s been particularly interesting to become more acutely aware of some of the assumptions I’d accepted as gospel for so long.

Image by jeremymeyers via Flickr

One of the big ones is based around not giving myself permission to try things.  So many aspects of my life had been left untouched based on my being unable to see beyond what I assumed was the size of the first step.

“I should travel more!” I thought, “but I don’t have a passport and in order to get a passport I’d have to get a passport photo and to do that I’d need to remember to go to a photo place,” and on and on.  And so things would not get completed.

In Buddhism, there is the concept of the ‘second arrow,’ which means that we frequently add a layer of judgment to our activities and choices, which causes us to suffer, keeps us in our heads and restricts our ability to connect with our true selves.

I was doing this, and it was keeping me stuck in one place.

But what I’m starting to realize is, there are smaller steps that are more manageable, if I take them without judgment of the past or possible negative outcomes of the future. There are low-risk activities I can do to bring myself closer to my goals.  Taking even the tiniest of steps in a direction and it can make a world of difference, and so tiny becomes the perfect size rather than a bad thing to be judged.

So whether it’s getting your passport, figuring out what you want in a romantic relationship, lowering your carbon footprint, interacting with your customers, making diplomatic overtures to a ‘terrorist state’, reconnecting with an estranged family member… figure out what you CAN do, and do it.  Don’t judge yourself because you think you could be doing more, or that it seems like it doesn’t matter or make a difference. And if you do find yourself judging, do your best not to judge that part.  You are only human, and it’s in our reptilian brain’s nature to judge ‘this is good’ ‘this is bad’.

It really does.

P.S. the Japanese have a name for this process when used in business: Kaizen