From the March 2013 Shambhala Sun: “What’s Your Verdict?”

Recognizing the judgments we all pass on ourselves, says Bonnie Friedman in the March Shambhala Sun, is the first step to freedom.

A person’s verdict has a life of its own, a rhythm of its own, an endurance of its own in the way bureaucracies have an endurance of their own. Whether we feel good about what we do or whether we always connect with what’s wrong with our work, we feel we’re being quite rational. This is a key aspect of our verdict; it wraps itself in reason. There is always a potent justification for why a person whose verdict is “I’m not good enough” is, at any particular time, sure he or she is warranted in feeling that way. The verdict exists before any action we take. It goes looking for reasons to incarnate itself, and when it finds one—and can’t it usually?—out it springs. This is why it’s not at all obvious to us when we are being captivated by our verdict.

Read the rest of “What’s Your Verdict?” here, and see what else is in the March magazine here. To subscribe and save, click here.

Illustration: Seth Smith


  1. hung jury says

    Once upon a time there was a farmer who had only one horse, and one day the horse ran away. Soon after, his neighbors came to console him over his terrible loss. The farmer asked, "What makes you think it is so terrible?"

    A month later, the horse came home – this time bringing with her two beautiful wild horses. The neighbors became excited at the farmer's good fortune. They were such lovely strong horses! The farmer asked, "What makes you think this is good fortune?"

    A few days after this, the farmer's son was thrown from one of the wild horses and broke his leg. All the neighbors were very distressed. It was such bad luck! The farmer asked, "What makes you think it is bad?"

    Near the end of the season, a war came, and every able-bodied man was conscripted and sent into battle. Only the farmer's son remained, because he had a broken leg. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck. The farmer asked, "What makes you think it is good?"