Releasing Judgment—2020 and Beyond

When things don’t go as we think they should (like all of 2020), it is easy to fall into a pattern of judging and criticizing ourselves and feeling bad about lack of progress where we think we should have progress.

This year, as parenting a teenager has collided with a pandemic, it has become clear to me that my priorities need to shift in this season of life.

For all of us, 2020 is happening on top of the rest of life. If you’re not parenting a teenager, you have something else that would pose a challenge even under less fraught circumstances than a pandemic. Odds are, COVID-19 has exacerbated your situation in some way, too. We’re all still learning as we go, but one of the most important things I have learned so far is that recognizing the need to shift the focus of my emotional and physical energy, as well as my time, stems from honoring the guidance, wisdom, direction and protection of the Universe. I can view myself with gratitude for choosing to honor and act on this guidance, rather than battering myself with judgment for not being able to do it all.

For those of us who are driven and determined to accomplish what we set out to accomplish, releasing ourselves temporarily from self-imposed time frames can be difficult and frustrating. It can feel like slacking.

An alternative perspective is to recognize the restraint that it takes to channel our energy where it is most needed. This view also requires patience with ourselves and with the timeline of nature. It requires trust that we will get back to a place in life where we can focus again more vigorously on the projects that stir our spirits.

It has become clear that my son needs me most right now. Being a teenager is hard in any era. I believe that being a teenager in the age of COVID-19 presents unique and unprecedented challenges. The waters are uncharted for all of us. My most important responsibility right now is helping Logan navigate them. Everything else has to be put on the backburner for this moment. It was a struggle to acknowledge and internalize that and to decide to be okay with it. I’m writing my book, working to complete a vegan nutrition certification and had been striving to build my business, while working full time. All those things matter to me, and I will continue to make progress. Circumstances right now just mean that my already painfully slow progress will be even slower for a while. I must release judgment on myself for that and instead feel grateful that I recognized the need, rather than pushing ahead with blinders, which can be tempting when I am in pursuit of a goal.

Right now, my efforts and energy need to be with Logan—parenting him the way he needs to be parented in order to nurture our relationship, keep him safe and healthy and help him build character.

I have settled into this realization and owned it. I have made the conscious decision to release judgment of myself and make peace with focusing my limited-capacity energy on Logan right now. The signs are here—this is parenting crunch time. Logan is 16. Nothing is more important than giving him the energy and attention he needs right now because there is not much time left before he is a young adult. While parenting won’t end then, it will change, and I don’t want to have missed my chance to be the mom he needed during this stage of his development, in the middle of a pandemic.

Before I know it, I will be in a different season of life, and it will be time again to focus my energy on my personal and professional development projects. I don’t consider myself stalled now, just slowed and, in some cases, temporarily redirected.

I’m still writing—just more slowly. I’m still reading and learning and growing—just with less urgency. I’m still open to business opportunities and development—just in a way that leaves me the time I need to give Logan what he needs.

In this year of uncertainty and distress, all of us are bound to be hit with unforeseen demands that rise to the top of our priorities. The challenge is to recognize these needs and honor them, releasing judgment of ourselves and acknowledging that, not only can we not do it all, but we do not need to do it all. We only need to do what is most important in the moment.

We can see this pandemic and the needs that arise around and during it as an interruption of life, or we can choose to see it for what it really is—life itself. It’s not a version of life we would have chosen, but here it is. So, let’s rise to the challenge, recognize what priorities need to be adjusted and make those adjustments courageously, patiently and without judgment.

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