Written by: Naomi Goodale
What is it about our human tendency to judge? We want to judge anything and everything that we possibly can. Worst of all-ourselves and each other. Like a vicious soul-sucking cycle we are constantly focused on each other.
We see a lot of this in the parent-shaming world. We see a lot of this in politics. We see a lot of this in religion. We see too much of it in the entertainment industry—“news” channels included. We see this in nearly all avenues of our existence. And hey, I get it! I don’t want to admit to it any more than you do—but it’s true so let’s all raise our palms as we say it together: “Guilty as charged.” We are one judgmental species, period. I suppose we can call it ‘the curse of the ego’ but one, nonetheless, that we don’t have to live under.
We can make the decision today to become emotionally honest. To turn our focus around on ourselves and ask:
*Why does this person I know (or barely know) bother me so much in the way he/she acts, thinks, does or doesn’t do, has or has not, looks like, talks like etc.?
*Why should the choices made by this individual bear any weight on my personal happiness in the first place?
*Why do I feel the need to judge this person at all?
*What does this judgment add to my life?
I had a friend call me up the other day in a very distressed, anxious state over something that she’d done and was ashamed of. She asked me not to tell anyone for fear of being judged for it. Now I don’t bring this up to address the nature of her personal dilemma, it’s irrelevant. I bring it up to cast light on the perfect example of the effect of living in a world plagued by judgment.
One by one we become afraid to show ourselves. Afraid to take off the masks that we are hiding behind. One by one, we grow more and more defensive and weary of one another with the walls we put up. Inevitably our ability to trust and connect with others truly suffers.
One by one, a wife and mother cries out to feel like she is good enough in a world demanding so much of her. One by one, a father bails on his children for fear of not being good enough. One by one, a youth ends his life. One by one we suffer in silence—especially those whom make a daily practice out of judgement and non-forgiveness. We rob ourselves and others of the happiness that we have unconsciously told ourselves we “don’t deserve” for far too long. Because we can’t accept and love who we are, we can’t accept and love others.
The Buddha said: “A day spent judging another is a painful day. A day spent judging yourself is a painful day.” Jesus said: “Judge not and you will not be judged.” Now what do these words mean? To me, they are clear that in judging another I only judge myself. Why? Because I am One with every other.
And even if I say it’s all with “good intent” as I share my ‘passions’ (i.e. judgements) expecting others to respond appropriately, what trophy do I have to show for it if that’s what I’m looking for? Being the salt and light of the earth doesn’t mean creating more division than there was before. It is in the recognition that simply Being and Loving is each of our purpose. To recognize the Higher Joy in this Being-ness. To recognize “The Power of NOW” (gotta’ love Eckhart Tolle) in every present moment, and to truly appreciate the fragility of human life— treating ourselves and each other with the care we all deserve.
Hurt people hurt people. That’s the cycle. A cycle we have to make a personal, conscious decision to stop being a part of—lest we’d rather grow more hurt than happy in our lives. So what’s the solution to help us stop judging? We start with ourselves.
By focusing our Awareness on our own heart-center, we consciously recognize that judgement in most forms is like a thief in the night. We play the Doer/Keeper of our mind and thoughts (which is Who we really are). We monitor our thoughts and keep them in check where they belong. When we feel the urge to cast judgement, we first take a moment to (silently) self-reflect and observe our thoughts before the words fall out of our mouths. We choose to start supporting and encouraging those around us on a regular basis, be it through social media or in person—knowing that we ‘never know’ whose ears and hearts our words were meant to reach.
We seek out opportunities to help others struggling with self-acceptance. And through the entire process—a process that we make a daily a habit of, we begin to take on a new and better reality than the one we were living before. When we ‘screw up’ we affirm out loud that we accept our mistakes as part of our human learning curve and we make the choice to release any guilt associated with that mistake instantly (because really, what good does it do to hold on to it?) And after that, we begin to extend the same grace to others.
We focus on the positivity of ‘a lesson learned’ in everything we do. We focus on what truly matters in life. That is, our own inner growth, life lessons, and commitment to nourishing the relationships we were blessed with—yes, even the ones that seem unrepairable. Because when we really make the conscious choice to practice non-judgement, it will become far more natural for others to follow suit and reciprocate. Making the world a better and more loving place must start with people who are willing to be better and more loving themselves. It is the only way.
I’m sure if we were all being honest with ourselves, many of us would agree that we have been guilty of judgment to an even greater degree than we would let on. After all, most people aren’t mind readers so it’s not like they’re gonna ‘hear’ or ‘see’ our judgments. In fact, if you’re someone who feels the need to write an entire post on ‘judgement’ and how much you can’t stand it, chances are you’ve been the greatest offender. Yep, there ya’ have it. Guilty!
But I can tell you this much, every day it is something I strive to work on. I find that the more honest I am with myself about the subtle judgments that creep into my thoughts (i.e. what I ‘don’t like’ in others) the more I recognize that it is my own issue, not theirs. Ultimately, we all grow and evolve. Some at slower rates than others, nonetheless, that’s the whole point, right? And the quicker we realize this, the quicker we experience the true joy of living and loving. So join me! The next time Mr. Thought takes you there, give em’ a good grip and say: “Don’t You Dare!”
And now for a few pics of me enjoying a nice cup of caffeinated coffee in my third trimester of this delightful pregnancy 🙂
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Photography by: Natalia Cruz