Hi, my name is Tom…
We classify things. It’s in our core nature. We also judge things. It’s in our core nature.
Satisfying or unsatisfying.
Balanced or unbalanced.
Safe or unsafe.
Yes or no.
Classification allows us to quickly and easily respond to opportunities as they arise in our environment, and the recall of classification status can be of great benefit.
…the last time I drank tequila I bruised my head so I won’t drink it because I expect I might do it again…
…the last time I ate at this restaurant I loved it so I expect I will enjoy it again…
…the last time I met this person they hurt me so I expect they’ll do it again…
Where problems arise is the generalization of classification status to all individual examples of the class, or if the classification inhibits the experience in the Moment by placing expectations on it from the past. Even if the classified object has been consistent in its classification every moment in the past, if you are truly living in the present Moment then you must allow opportunity for a adjustment in classification. You can be ready for what you expect to happen, you can be prepared for consistency, but your actions every moment need to allow for change. Need to be open for growth and acceptance. Need to hold hope.
Expectations are only meant for preparation not perpetuity.
…the last time I drank tequila I bruised my head. I will observe my consumption this time and see if I still need protect myself…
…the last time I ate at this restaurant I loved it. I will observe my consumption and see if I continue to love it…
…the last time I met this person they hurt me. I will observe my interaction and see if I still need to protect myself…
Our classifications and judgements are about keeping us safe and getting our needs met. They are information used to predict the potential of a situation to hurt us, help us, or hinder us, and we rely on a script built on the pattern card for the classification we’ve assigned to our past experiences. Yet, if our boundaries are sound and our faith solid, we can throw away those recipes for survival and instead trust our instinct for success and our universe to provide for our needs.
Every Moment should be a blank page ready to be written rather than a worn script being re-read. Each interaction should be an exploration of options rather than a rote recipe; even if the ingredients are the same, you can have different results by changing up the mixture.
In the case of the WWF players, classifying a Scammy Sammy involves a judgement of the patterns and characteristics typical of the fraud-minded users. Recent start date. Low average game score. Low average word score. Interchangeable first and last names. The fact they challenge in the first place. And most tellingly, the speedy chat attempt. Based on these ingredients, the classification as Scammy Sammy makes sense and engaging appropriate defense mechanisms is understandable.
Except…those same mechanisms should be in place for all interactions no matter the classification! The rule of no expectations, only boundaries applies at all times. If you are consistent in your boundaries then you are safe no matter if you’re in the lion’s den or the games room. Everyone you meet should be treated with the same respect, courtesy, curiosity and interest while maintaining healthy boundaries. Even Scammy Sammys are human beings behind the script and feel the barbs of judgemental contempt if levelled at them.
Accept the information your classifications give you, hear the options your emotional and judgemental minds feed you, but don’t act upon either until the Moment of choice is upon you and then act from compassion not from fear, because very rarely are you in true danger if you live inside solid boundaries.
If someone hurt you in the past, but are not hurting you in the present, then enlightenment demands you treat them according to the present Moment. If someone previously fit one of your class groupings but is not demonstrating those traits today, mindfulness demands you give the benefit of the doubt while maintaining your healthy boundaries. If someone you have never met before seems to be falling into one of the classifications, observe the interaction but reserve your judgement and give them the benefit of the doubt while maintaining your healthy boundaries until a moment of choice arises. If your boundaries are working properly, people’s behavior will not catch you off guard since you have no expectations!
Live it like Lucy.
Lucy wakes up each morning with no recall of recent events in the Adam Sandler romantic comedy 50 First Dates. A brain injury destroyed the connection between her short term and long term memory. Her core personality remains intact but she cannot consciously add new experiences to her life history. Once she falls asleep, which is when healthy brains compile the day’s adventures, her slate gets wiped clean.
She truly lives in the Moment. Not as profoundly as poor Tom who has a ten second recall, but she cannot consciously remember the days after her accident, good or bad.
Enter Henry, a man who lives for variety and challenge so cannot commit to relationships. Normally a girl like Lucy would never keep him, and would never fall for his ploys because she would catch on after one day. The next time she saw him, he would be classified as unable to meet her needs thus unsafe to engage with.
Yet those needs were based on the woman she was the day before. Her classification is based on historical data rather than the current situation. Her judgement is flawed because the woman she is does not now need protection from the man he is. Yesterday she may have told him he had one day to win her trust and then she’d be done with him.
Except now Henry always has one day. He gets to know Lucy inside and out, one day at a time, and learns how to be everything she could ever want while not being judged for who he is. His insecurities, his passions, his core self are not vulnerable in this relationship because any mistakes he makes are erased and he gets to start fresh the very next day. She doesn’t remember what happened the day before and he chooses only to remember the good parts.
Both are truly living in the Moment and both loving it. Lucy has no expectations of Henry, while he has none of her, yet both maintain their personal boundaries.
Until Lucy starts leaving herself notes. Judging Henry’s satisfaction with the relationship based on her values and experiences. She stops living in the Moment and relies on her thoughts and feelings about the contents of her journal, ultimately breaking up with Henry. Her conscious attention to her classification of the relationship as unfair to Henry thus inconsistent with her core values ignored the sincere joy both she and Henry felt. She felt like a burden on him and her family and admitted herself into a residential facility. There she figured she’d forget about Henry.
She was wrong.
Although her thinking mind and her feeling brain could not recognize the person in front of her or put a name to his face, her wise mind knew that face and missed the bond between them which was deeper than the events of each moment.
When we truly let go of the past, or at least the emotions associated with it if not the information collected from it, then we can start each morning with a clean slate and let those around us be free of judgement and classification while still keeping ourselves balanced and satisfied.
With our eyes wide open and full of acceptance and curiosity, we see only what we need to see.