Photo Credit: Miguel Bruna,

We all experience challenging times. They’ve been part of life’s journey since forever. And these days we’re all increasingly connected through our smart devices. So, besides whatever complexities we may be managing, troubling news and tragedies of all shapes and sizes can come at us 24-7. And they do. It’s a constant onslaught to process, to form opinions about, to think and feel our way through in ways that can drain us energetically.

So consider this potential energy conservation method: in the midst of so much that we can’t control, so much that we need and want to do, the ancient discipline of non-judgment can aid us. Further, it can soothe our souls and ease our burdens. Then we can pass some peace forward.

First step: limit the constant onslaught. Really.

My dear friend Kim, an amazing attorney and child advocate, just doesn’t “do the news.” She’s quite disciplined about it. Her determination to live and work in a “radically quiet zone” allows her to stay healthy for her own intense work in the world–for her unique contribution.

And, of course, Kim’s approach works for her–for her life and work. The truth is, we each have to find our own way of dealing with what’s happening in our cities, our countries, and our world in these wired times in which we easily get word of it, whatever it is, immediately.

The good news is that there’s actual middle-ground between unconnected and hyper-connected. These days each end of that continuum requires counter-cultural decision-making and discipline. Take the time to think through and craft your own health approach toward peace of mind and productivity.

Second step: limit the judgments you form. Really.

Coaches know that non-judgment’s an essential tool in our work. We practice it constantly to avoid laying our values and interpretations of motivation and meaning on the unique humans we’re privileged to serve. Non-judgment creates space for others to truly show up, free of type-casting or expectations. Free to tell and show us who they are–who they aspire to be.

So one discipline for me, when the news coming at us, that is especially tough is to practice non-judgment there, too. And let me be clear–the point isn’t saintliness, but rather mental and emotional health and productivity during difficult times.

Of course there are people in our lives, or looming large on our smart devices, whose choices and actions don’t work for us. We truly may not be able to relate to where another seems to be coming from. And then of course the truth is also that we only know what we know. What we think and feel. How we are wired. The truth is, it takes real time, patience, and work to understand the motivations–conscious and unconscious–of another.

Reflect on empty space as creative space.

Imagine reserving judgment as a way of conserving energy for your own good work–for everything you want to create. As observers of current events from local to global, how can we hold empty space, rather than filling it with our assumptions or our fears? Space for our fellow humans to be the complex, multi-dimensional central characters in their own poignant, perhaps even tragic life stories? How can we avoid making judgments that fill in the blanks using our filters, beliefs, interests, and issues?

In this approach, assume we don’t know the motivations or mindset of others. Instead, we can compassionately witness troubling events with as much heart and soul as we can muster. We can bring our own personal best to that work. Further, we can benefit from the sense of control this particular form of self-discipline gives us, since we’re in charge of how the work of non-judgment goes. Because the reality is that non-judgment is freeing.

Is anyone else thinking of Viktor Frankl at this moment? A Holocaust survivor, he made major contributions to our understanding of the human spirit through his belief in and writings about our fundamental freedom to find our own meaning in anything. Meaning that we choose in order to continue to motivate ourselves and give ourselves reasons for living. Because, yes, that inner work’s up to us.

Repeat as needed, with your health and productivity front and center.

In your own empowered approach to challenging times, try non-judgment as one tool in your kit. And reach out for expert support that you need and deserve on this poignant 21st Century journey.


Photo Credit: Miguel Bruna,