I invite you to take a moment and sit with yourself pondering the following question:
“Am I a judgmental person?”
My best guess is that if we are truly honest with ourselves, we will have to accept and acknowledge that we are all forming judgments, nearly all of the time. We judge things like ice cream flavors, vacation choices, and/or clothing styles constantly, and there is nothing wrong with this when our judgments remain personal in scope and nature. In fact, I prefer to think of these behaviors as appraisals and/or preferences as opposed to judgments.
The problem emerges when we habitually project our appraisals and preferences upon others, and the truth is that people do this quite frequently. Consider these examples:
– An overweight person is immediately labeled a glutton.
– A person charged with a crime is automatically guilty.
– A more feminine male has to be gay.
– A minority person driving an expensive car has to be engaging in illegal activity.
This list could, unfortunately, go on and on.
These ways of thinking are not only unfair, they are actually rather delusional. You see:
– The overweight person barely eats anything and still cannot lose the weight due to a genetic disorder.
– The person charged with the crime is actually a victim of mistaken identity.
– The feminine male was closer to his mother and is in reality very heterosexual and married with children.
– The minority person in the expensive car is actually one of the top brain surgeons in the country.
How can we possibly claim to know another’s story until we have heard it? Who do we think we are to even make such judgments about others? And most importantly: Why do we even engage in this practice so habitually in the first place?
Psychologically, we know that the source of judgmental thinking is based in FEAR. Because we fear for our own safety and well-being, we project negatively upon others so as to “bring them down” to our level, or even below us. Another psychological aspect of judging is based in our own sense of disappointment with our own situations. We are reminded of our own conditions when we see others appearing to have it better than we do.
Spiritually, we discuss judgment as being the result of envy, but it can also be the result of something much deeper. Very often, we project our GUILT for our own misdeeds and misgivings upon others so as to not face the truth of our own fallen spiritual nature. We point out the flaws in others to as to not have to reconcile the flaws within ourselves. As Jesus said, “we are focused upon the splinter in someone else’s eye when we have an entire log in our own.”
Okay, so here is what I propose:
Let’s make a sincere and enduring vow to begin addressing our judgmental nature, and to ultimately transform it into a positive and affirming posture towards our fellow human beings. Here are some steps to accomplishing this:
1) Start by being aware of your tendency to judge. Be honest with yourself about how and why this is a problem (but be careful to not be too hard (judgmental) on yourself).
2) Begin intervening with the tendency by first acknowledging when you have done it. Just say to yourself, “That was very judgmental of me.”
3) Now start catching yourself in the midst of judging, and when you do, switch over to thinking and/or saying positive things instead.
4) Proceed with giving everyone the “benefit of the doubt” towards the positive.
5) Train yourself to think and speak only positive and affirming things about others. When there is something clearly negative, practice empathy, and consider the circumstances.
6) Proceed with focusing less upon what others are doing, and more about what you are doing. Work on improving yourself and leave others to their own free will and Karma. “Live and let live.”
7) Let LOVE prevail in all that you think and do. Mother Theresa said, “If we judge others we have no time to love them.” Just keep striving to be as loving as you possibly can in all places and circumstances.
Please note that I am not advocating here for a “free for all” regarding ethics and/or morality. We still need laws that protect people from the misguided actions of others, and we do indeed have the right to appraise a situation as unlawful and/or in violation of the rights of others.
As always, balance and integration prevail in anything I write and/or (hopefully) do. Two words I try to avoid are “always” and “never.” Context surely matters.
I pray that this post might help us all with our tendencies to judge, and that we might become people who edify others rather than seeking to tear them down. I hope we can be honest with ourselves regarding the fact that judging reveals a problem within us, and not the other.
Imagine if every person on earth accepted these understandings and began to cease judgment in favor of behaving more lovingly towards one another? What kind of transformation might we see and experience in a world where this became the new norm?
Let it begin with each one of us . . .