Back in my early days as a PT and PT Manager at Crunch Fitness in New York City, I worked with all types of clients. All shapes and sizes, from tattooed to corporate big wigs, super mums and even drag queens! I welcomed and cherished them all for their individuality! I was drawn to the Crunch brand whose motto was and still is “No Judgments”. This was a great learning ground for me as a budding PT. I had to learn to communicate with a variety of people, some of whom were nothing like me! I must admit – even as someone who relishes individuality, I still struggled to observe this “No Judgments” motto. On some days, it seemed impossible!
After training hundreds of clients, I started to jump to conclusions about who was in front of me. “She must be lazy…what’s with all those excuses?” “Why can’t he just stop complaining? Toughen up!” But I wasn’t just judging those clients; in a way I was also judging myself, because with every judging thought I had about my clients, I had at least ten judging thoughts about myself! Judging, you see, has two levels. One when we judge others and one when we judge ourselves. What we’re really doing in some way is reflecting our own lack of self-acceptance. If we can’t accept them they way they are, then we probably don’t TRULY accept ourselves for who we are.
Judging is tiring! It takes a lot of mental energy to continually put people into categories, deciding what is good or bad, right or wrong and doing the same thing with ourselves. My inner thoughts included negative gems like “Why did I say that to my client, I should have been more assertive, why do I always screw up sales, I’m an idiot!”
What a waste of energy it all is!
Luckily we have a choice other than judging. It’s called LEARNING! When we have a thought and we choose to JUDGE rather than LEARN, we end up immobilized and focusing on how to get even, or how to be right! This eventually leads to non-productive questions, such as ‘Why am I so stupid? What’s wrong with me? Who is to blame?’
Talk about spinning wheels and going nowhere!
Learning questions are much more productive. For example: ‘What can I learn from this? What works? What is the big picture? What is my client needing right now? What is my client feeling right now?’ These questions lead to thoughtful, solution-based thinking and frees you up from all that energy zapping negative stuff. Now, this is no easy feat as judging thoughts are often subconscious, so we have to become AWARE of them to catch ourselves in the act!
So: I’d like to put a challenge to you for the month of March. The goal: let go of judgment of your clients AND for yourself! Here are a few tips to help you become judgment free in March.
- Notice and document. Start with one day of documenting it anytime you catch yourself using judgemental language or thinking judgemental thoughts. For ONE day, don’t try to change those thoughts, just notice them and write them down or pop them in your notes on your phone.
- Create an affirmation. Daily affirmations will keep you in a state of gratitude and it’s pretty hard to judge when we’re feeling grateful. Here are a few suggestions to keep the judgement monster at bay. ‘I’m learning to be more accepting of myself and my clients’ or ‘I’m releasing the need to have my clients act in a certain way’.
- Get clear on your role as a trainer. If you’re like me, you got into this industry to HELP people and that’s admirable, however, this can easily turn into the need to FIX people, which means you’re assuming something is wrong with them. I’ve got news for you: your clients aren’t broken and it’s not your job to FIX them! All of our clients are doing the best they can with what they’ve got, so remember your role is guide by their side, not judge and jury!
Remember, judging costs you! It costs you in energy, peace of mind and maybe even that next client who could pick up on the fact that they were being judged. Let’s let go of that judgement for March and see how things unfold in a very cool, totally accepting way!