What Are You Holding Onto?

I know this may come off as controversial but I’m gonna say it anyway.

Judgement is a good thing.

Judgement keeps me aligned with my values. It is my spidey senses coming to the surface to check-in to see if everything is all good. Judgement is the cop at the car window saying “I’d like to hear it from the lady.”

You know when you get that sense in your belly, that something just is not right? You get that feeling that says…mmmm…nope. That feeling is your judgement coming to the surface and ensuring you are in alignment with what is being said or what is transpiring.

Judgement, in fact, has gotten us out of more trouble than many of us care to admit or even know. It’s what makes us think twice, it’s what drives us to safety, it’s what keeps the 8th brownie out of our mouth. But it also gets us into trouble when judgement turns down the wrong path.

When judgement turns into blame or shame…well, now perhaps we’ve gone too far. When we start beating ourselves or others up for only taking 9,500 steps, for eating 3 brownies, or for not being a perfect parent we have taken to the dark path of shame, haven’t we?

There are so many easy examples: Politics, War, Vaccines, Freedom, Religion. We all look towards these charged topics and we have built an internal alignment with our values and beliefs. We have also then taken it into the dark wooded forest of shame. Our internal dialogue is less than poetic, we point fingers, we publicly comment, we are passive-aggressive, we tsk our tongues. We remain silent.

So how do we stop at the wonders of judgement and not dive into the horrible world of shame and blame?

Hold onto Awareness

Hold onto the idea that this life truly is an apprenticeship. That the actual number of steps don’t matter and that it is more important to be physically active. That I don’t feel good about myself when I polish off a bottle of wine with dinner. That listening to Trump speak makes me cranky and sad.

Holding onto awareness is so damn hard. It’s why I am returning my Fitbit. I tried and frankly, it turned me into a shame queen. I compared my stats to my husbands, I worked towards as many steps as possible, I would do the mindful breaks just for the checkmark.

Honestly, I think it was the worst device ever for me – that’s why it’s going back today. I was constantly checking and comparing. This little experiment did create some awareness however and for that awareness, a week with a FITBIT was totally worth it.

  • my sleep routine is a treat
  • my days are better when my mornings are quiet
  • my evening exercise creates a beautiful division of work and home

Holding onto Otherness

I don’t have to understand other people to hold respect for them. This is one of the hardest things to apprentice with. I don’t understand how a murderer could murder but I respect the fact that their life has been so hard, that this was a consequence. I don’t understand someone who gaslights you but respect the fact that something in their lifetime made them think that gaslighting is ok.

Can we truly look at someone’s attachments, statements, or actions and instead of shaming them for what they did, understand how they may have gotten there?

I’m not saying you have to like them, befriend them or surrender to it. I’m just saying that when we can look at someone and see their journey, perhaps we can respect the hardships they have been through.

Because no one is born an asshole.

Holding onto Gratitude

I have a wonderfully amazing girlfriend who has had a recent and significant amount of trauma in her life. As she carries on with these traumas as part of her life now, she works very hard on ensuring that these traumas were FOR something. Every day, she kisses the ground for the chance to be grateful for the chance. She builds a life that has strong cornerstones of grief, gratitude, grace, and grit.

She admits that grief often takes over the day when grit needs to rest and that gratitude doesn’t always come gracefully. That blame and shame often raise their dark head and that it is grief that holds them close to her chest, that it’s grit that keeps them from taking over, that it is grace that allows the unexpected reminders and it is gratitude that alchemizes them into the beautiful woman she is today.

May you experience blame and shame alchemizing into release, gratitude, and growth.


Sarah Hines
Sarah Hines
I met a man one blurry night in Manhattan, and little did I know, he would be the soil in which my passion for grief work was to be planted. He had been rejected by his family for his life choices and was preparing for death without them. Helping him through his struggle to come to terms with his love for them and in turn his forgiveness while going through treatments, rejection, and coming to terms with his own death and grief was an unimaginable amount of stress and it literally set me in activism mode. It was shortly after his death, I completed training in Palliative Care Home Hospice. I volunteered in men’s homes for 5 years before the medications became reliable and being gay wasn’t always breaking family ties. Some of the most amazing times I have had in my life have been in the homes of dying. Strange, yes.. but so beautifully honest and raw. I then completed the Children’s Palliative Care Training and dove into the heartbrokenness of dying children. It is in these years I really came to understand just how fickle death can be and how much we embrace death and our grief. It seems that in times of what we would consider the most unimaginable, we are able to find glimmers of beauty, cracks of light and the nourishment in tears. Over the last 20 years, I have carried on with my education in a variety of ways including Coach and Leadership Training, Orphan Wisdom School and Grief Groups. My connection into corporate grief has been slow. It’s something that most organizations do not want to think about. I am inspired by those that see value in bringing grief work into the way they lead teams through uncertainty and the trust this work builds.

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  1. Very touching post, Sarah Hines, thank you.

    I do agree with you that “Judgment is a good thing”… i.e if only we know how to handle/use it correctly.

    On one hand it is so very simple and yet on the other hand, it is so very complex, and ties in ALL of our senses and emotions. Please allow me to share some insights from others:

    Make today “Judgment Free” in words, and, most important, in thought. Let’s work on altering the way we think… Orly Wahba

    Failing is a judgment that we humans place on a given action. Rather than judgment, substitute this attitude: You cannot fail, you can only produce results. Wayne Dyer

    We judge ourselves by our intentions. And others by their actions. Stephen Covey

    Do not let the winds of life determine your life’s outcome. Set your sail, and use the winds of life to get to where you want to go. John Whitton

    When we practice loving-kindness toward ourselves, a miracle happens: We stop being so judgmental of ourselves, and, in turn, we’re also less judgmental of others. Troy L