Today I took a big step towards hiring The Witness.

If you’ve read my first two posts, you know that I wrote about The Judge.  You’d know that  firing The Judge was my personal commitment to finding happiness with a very important person, ME.

However, one cannot simply fire The Judge and expect to live in the Land of Self-Contentment.  The Judge is strong my reader friends.  Very strong.  Similar to the mantra, “It takes a village to raise a child,”  it takes a metropolis to Fire the Judge.  And the residents of that metropolis must be Witnesses.

The Witnesses take on many forms.  Obviously, there are the people we allow in our inner circle of trust–our friends, family members, and co-workers who support us.  Then there are the regular, everyday people we encounter who fulfill that Random Act of Kindness that encourages us.  Although we all need these people, and they have important roles as Witnesses, if one star Witness is missing, the efforts of all will be futile.  The Star Witness for every single one of us is ourself.

Finding our inner witness is tricky.  Just as The Judge is clever at manipulating us into delibating self-judgment, The Witness is shy and elusive.  The Witness becomes a wallflower while The Judge dances in the middle of the floor, with a crowd of self-doubts cheering him on.    Eventually, the Witness stops coming to the dance at all, electing to stay home and chill with Netflix.

So, confronting the Judge is Step One.  Finding the Witness is Step Two.  Hiring the Witness is the next step, and that’s not easy.  It’s hard.  It’s panic-attack, take-deep-breaths, talk-myself-down-from-the-ledge, hard.

But today, I found my Witness, reviewed her resume’, called her references, and decided to hire her on a trial basis.  It all happened while I was creating my annual Christmas card…

For the past several years, I have utilized a website to upload pictures and use one of their designs to create a Christmas card.  I like sending cards with my son’s pictures on it, featuring photos from the entire year.  I’m not the type to have a professional picture taken, in coordinating outfits, with sweet candid shots cropped in.  Those are cute, and I fully endorse the practice for those who wish–it’s just not my cup of tea.

I was scrolling through the photos from this year, searching for one or two of my son and me that I could include.  This was no easy task, because if you’re like me, you’re the one taking the picture, not the one in the picture. I happened across a few and uploaded them as possible choices.  The Judge was fairly quiet during this process until I found The Picture.

The Picture was a selfie I took of my son and me at Disney World on the first night we were there. We are standing on Main Street, a black sky and carousel lights were the backdrop and our expressions captured our excitement.  Cute, right?  The Judge had a different opinion.  Without going into specific details, The Judge’s bottom line was that it was not a physically flattering picture of me.

You see, our arrival to Disney World happened on a Saturday night at 8 pm.  We had traveled all day, complete with flight delays, rental car delays, and thunderstorm delays.  I was tired, needed a shower, and wanted nothing more than to go to sleep in my rental house bed.  But part of our trip included park passes for that day, and everyone knows you never waste Disney World tickets, so we went to The Happiest Place on Earth.

Later, when I went through the hundreds of photos of our trip, and I came across that selfie, The Judge repeated his comments.  But I also heard from The Witness.  The Witness said, “So what!  Look how happy and excited you and Tommy are at that moment.  You just survived 14 hours of travel and obstacles.  You reached your destination.  You’re there.  That feeling you have at that moment is more important.”  So I kept the photo and thanked The Witness.

Fast forward seven months to Christmas card photo selection time.  I pause at the photo and relive the excitement and joy.  I consider whether I want this unflattering picture of me to deck the Christmas card that I would send to 50 of my closest family and friends.  The Witness says yes, while The Judge is screaming, “Hell, NO!”

Then I consider the feeling of Christmas.  The feeling of joy, and expectation, and wonder.  The feeling that grows through planning and dreaming and hoping.  The feeling that we had at Disney World is the same feeling as Christmas morning.  I listened to The Witness and click on the photo to add to my card collage.  The Witness moved off the wall and was hired.  The Judge left the dance floor.

I hope in your quest to fire your judges, you also look for your witnesses.  I pray that you recognize the witness within yourself.  When you hear your witness, thank her, and let her lead you to the steps it takes to drive that judge right out of town.