I wish that I could begin by telling you that I never judge. But I can’t. Because I must admit that sometimes I feel judgmental. Can you say differently?
Judgments are generally based on opinions. They likely stem from choices that don’t correspond with our own. When we have a positive opinion we don’t tend to view it as judgment. It is when the opinion is of a negative nature that it becomes judgmental.
Some judgments are quite small, and may be kept to ourselves. “Why would anyone think that?” or “interesting choice.” Not very nice thoughts. Judgements indeed. But we may also think about others in a positive manner, such as “that person is very nice” or “I really admire the strength of conviction they’re showing.” These are still opinions, but they’re kind ones and we don’t think twice about them.
There are times when we don’t filter our thoughts and choose to say what we’re thinking. “Why on earth did you do such a thing?” “How could you possibly feel that way?” Turn the table and you might have nice things to utter such as “you did an awesome job” or “their kindness knows no bounds.” Again, these are expressions based on opinion. Positive or negative, we may or may not agree on our opinions.
Judgment often arises from fear. When I first heard that sentiment, my response had been one of disbelief. Thinking about issues or situations where I have been judgmental didn’t invoke feelings of fear. But as I sat pondering a bit longer, I realized there was some truth to that statement. Judging the choices others make should lead us to realize that others may judge our decisions. Expressing astonishment about what others have done, said, or felt requires that we recognize the distinct possibility that others express the same level of amazement at our choices. If we dealing with something relatively small, though, we don’t tend to look too closely at our thoughts, reasons or reactions.
Judgment becomes more relevant and fear-based when we move to topics that are more controversial. The greater the controversy, the greater the fear. Here I’m referring to things such as money, religion, politics and, more recently, mask wearing and vaccinations. If someone spends money in a manner that we find frivolous, is there some fear that we are deemed equally frivolous or worries that we have less of it to waste? When religious beliefs diverge we may experience fears that we ourselves are on the wrong path. If you and I support opposing candidates and feel that ‘the other guy’ is inadequate for the job, don’t our fears skyrocket when we think about election results? When we have opposing views about vaccinations and mask wearing, we either fear the spread of disease or we fear government tyranny. If these differing beliefs and behaviors meant nothing to us then there would be no fears associated with them. But there is meaning, and thus fear, and so the judgments arise.
When I become aware that I’m sitting in judgment I try to pause and remember that I am not alone in these experiences. Putting aside the judgment and focusing on the shared — albeit possibly polar opposite — fears actually elicits feelings of connection. Through this connection I find that judgment begins to ebb. The judgment may not fade fast, and it may not abate completely, but feelings of connection do come.
We all experience fear. Let yourself feel compassion when the fears arise. Let these experiences bring us together rather than separate us. Let your heart be light and free.
“Judgments prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances.” ~ Wayne Dyer
“When there are no labels and no judgement, there is only logic, sense, compassion, kindness, and patience — all of which are tools to helping someone change positively.” ~ Xandria Ooi
“Judgment is a negative frequency.” ~ Stephen Richards
“When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.” ~ Earl Nightingale
“Love is the absence of judgment.” ~ Dalai Lama