This is the first part of a three-part series about judgments.

I love to dance. I took ballroom dancing classes, rock & roll dancing classes, I went to dance parties during university where I’d be on the dance floor and the adrenaline of the dancing was enough for me to keep going till the sun came up. I’ve been salsa dancing for over 14 years now and I regularly dance in my living room.

And I’ve NEVER been to an ecstatic dance party until at the beginning of this year.

An ecstatic dance party is a dance party where you go on the dance floor barefoot, phones are off, you don’t talk to each other and you can dance any way you want to without being judged (at least openly). An ecstatic dance party is a dance party where you can release and play, feel safe and connect or be alone if you prefer that.

When I first arrived at the ecstatic dance party I noticed a man that seemingly didn’t look like he belonged here. He had his hair combed back with gel and was walking around like a tough guy with his hand in his jeans. After a while, I noticed that he’d changed into his dancing gear. Tight leggings with a tight sleeveless shirt doing stretches while listening to the music.

Another girl was doing her entire yoga practice on the dance floor. She was very bendy in her legging (there were a lot of leggings that evening) and doing all sorts of movements.

I sat next to a lovely looking young girl who seemed to not really know what to think about all this. The music was very jungle-like with animal sounds and weather sounds. And after the third natural sounds song, finally some danceable music came on and the lovely girl next to me stood up and ventured on the dance floor.

Right next to her I saw a man looking around at the women like a predator. I felt really uncomfortable seeing him. Although it was stated at the beginning of the evening that this is a safe place and “predator-free” I felt the opposite when looking at that guy. I quickly averted my eyes.

I realized the music wasn’t really my taste but I also didn’t want to sit on the couch all evening so I stood up and joined the crowd. I started moving and dancing to the music.

I noticed that another woman wasn’t afraid of the predator looking guy. She looked him straight in the eyes with a soft smile on her lips. “Funny”, I thought, “I think he’s scary and she doesn’t seem to be afraid of him”.

When a real jungle song came on another woman started walking on hands and foot like an animal and the predator looking guy quickly joined her. They were eying each other, mimicking each other and playing together. I found it oddly sensual to look at.

The lovely girl who sat next to me at the beginning of the evening didn’t seem like a natural dancer. She had her hands in front of her breasts as if she were cupping them and she moved her hands in circles in front of her body while stepping side to side. She did that (with mild variations) all evening. All the time smiling and really enjoying herself.

The man with the gel and the leggings danced twice with her.

Later that evening I saw the predator looking man sitting on the couch with a woman in his arms. Cuddling.

I noticed that, from the beginning of the evening, I had so many judgments going around in my head. About the “spirituality” of the place, the people doing yoga on the floor, the predator looking guy, the legging guy, the lovely girl, the rolling around on the dance floor.

I was so brutally confronted with my own judgments it made me feel uncomfortable.

  1. I judged the way everybody sat cross-legged (why can’t you be spiritual and just sit ” normal” on a couch?).
  2. I judged all the Buddha signs everywhere (Why? I mean, just why??).
  3. I judged everyone doing stretches and doing yoga poses on the dance floor (Why not just start to dance? Why stretching before dancing? I don’t get it. It’s the same with LA Salsa. People wear special dance shoes. While with Cuban salsa people just start dancing with whatever they’re wearing).
  4. I judged all the men for not finding me the most attractive girl there (yep, it’s true. I did).
  5. I judged everybody who didn’t find me a very good dancer (again, I really did).

I quickly realized this was an amazing opportunity for me to uncover what’s in my shadow.

You see, Our Shadow involves all the parts of us that we have rejected, including our positive qualities. Those parts and qualities don’t go away though and still have (a big) influence on our daily life.

One way to discover what it is you’ve rejected or ignored is your own judgments. With judgments, you project that what you judge within yourself onto others.

You see, those judgments never said anything about those people but they said everything about me.

After that party, it took me about two weeks of contemplation and reflection to uncover what these judgments said about me.

Judgments one and two are about the environment being not right. I reflected this back to my own home and how I judge the way I shape my own surroundings. I judge it as not good enough.

Judgments three is about other people. The other people weren’t living up to “my standards” and in my eyes weren’t doing “the right thing”. I reflected this back to my own judgment towards myself falling short regarding my way of living.

Judgments four and five are about what other people think/feel about me. Meaning, that I feel small and insecure and need approval to feel validated.

Those judgments of the night of that ecstatic dance party were very crucial for my process of acknowledging my own judgments towards myself.

If I don’t acknowledge that and do my best to ignore that part of myself, I keep trying to live up to other people’s expectations. By acknowledging and accepting that I can own the judgmental part of myself and I can start to see the lessons that come with those judgments.

During those two weeks of contemplation and reflection I not only uncovered, acknowledged and accepted my own judgments, I also saw that judging myself so strongly made me very supportive and accepting of others. This behavior came forth from me judging. I didn’t want to judge and yet I did. To compensate I supported and accepted and motivated a lot of other people.

You see, those shadow parts of us always have a lesson in them. A gift. My gift was compassion, acceptance, and support towards others.

Now by acknowledging my own judgments, I can stop projecting them on others and truly step into my compassion and acceptance.

Part two and three of this Series about Judgments will cover the steps YOU can take to uncover your own lessons of your own judgment. I will walk you through the process I used and I will talk about the ways in which you can find the lessons within your judgments.



Carmen Smallegange is a coach specialized in uncovering and transforming limiting beliefs. Using her own life lessons she shines a new and fresh light on negative experiences to empower others to do the same and to acknowledge and step into their own amazing potential. You can get her free workbook on how to transform your fears or follow her on Facebook.

Image courtesy of Stephen Leonardi.