Judgment: What does it mean to you? How it has played a role in your life? Is it definitively bad or not?
The responses I have heard to these questions are interesting and varied, as the topic is not as black and white as it may seem on the surface.
In school, and in many cultures, religions, and communities, we are often taught not to judge, but I don’t totally agree with that.
I believe that judgment is a completely unavoidable part of being a human being. However, it is what each of us does with the judgments we have that can differentiate us.
Read on to learn more about why and how.
In the past, I used to have incredibly distorted body image, and I was incredibly terrified of the prospect of being *fat* or even being considered *fat* in someone’s opinion, regardless of my actual weight or size.
This fear ruled my mind, and I allowed it to control my life as well, spending a significant amount of my time and energy exercising, dieting, weighing myself, analyzing pictures to pick out my flaws…you get the idea.
(Above: Me in high school, clearly just relaxing on the beach & definitely not worrying about how I looked from this angle…)
I was so obsessed with being *perfect* that I was quick to notice anyone else who wasn’t, mostly because it afforded me a few moments of reprieve in the day where finally I wasn’t the one being endlessly criticized in my mind.
And while I didn’t necessarily think or ever say mean things about those people, I noticed and dwelled on what I perceived as their imperfections and felt sorry for them. I felt bad that they had to *deal with* living life looking the way that they did and imagined they were incredibly unhappy with themselves.
It didn’t matter whether or not I knew this person. My judgment was automatically that if this person was *heavy*, they must be really unhappy with and self-conscious about their appearance.
And perhaps this particular story line doesn’t resonate as strongly with you because maybe for you, it’s not about weight. Maybe it’s something else that you find yourself judging people for: career, wealth, sexuality, relationships, etc.
Judgment can show up in different forms in each of our lives, but regardless of how, ask yourself ‘what do I judge others for?’ Simply creating awareness around it is a great place to start. There is no need to ‘judge your judgment’. Observe it. Notice what comes up for you.
Once you have awareness, you begin to create a choice for yourself. You begin to realize that judgment isn’t something that just happens to you over which you have no control; you have the power to use it meaningfully.
Judgment is often an indicator that something is going on inside of you that needs attention, rather than a sign that another person or group of people needs to change, is not good enough, etc.
It took me a long time to realize that it was really about ME. I was the one who was unhappy and self-conscious about my looks, and I was projecting my own insecurities and beliefs onto this person.
Bottom line: It was more about my own lack of self-love than theirs.
However, as someone who has done a lot of work and healing to learn to accept and eventually love myself, one of the many incredibly helpful tools I learned along the way was to learn how to use my judgment more wisely.
What I mean by that is that I learned how to notice my judgment and then choose what I was going to do with it, and I invite you to try it out, too.
You can try this exercise now if you have some recurring judgments you’re already aware of or try it next time you find yourself judging.
Once you’ve noticed the judgment, let’s take a few steps back, and ask:
– What is being triggered here for me? (Remember: this typically has very little to do with the other person) Just notice and create space and awareness around the thought. What does this have to do with me, and why does it seem to bother me so much? You may or may not see a link at first, but practicing noticing your thoughts may help you to see patterns over time.
– Am I going to continue to judge and direct that energy toward this person, or am I going to send this person love and compassion?
You don’t even have to say it out loud. I promise people can feel the difference…
– Am I willing to see things differently? Regardless of which option you chose in the previous question, offer yourself the opportunity to see things from a different perspective. Reminding yourself that the spectrum of beliefs in the world is not limited to your own can help to open up your mind little by little.
– And repeat…
In short, what I’m proposing is not about spending your time trying to stop the judgments from coming in the first place, but to better understand and address where these judgments are coming from within you.
One of the amazing results of this, is that as you continue to learn to send love to a place where you initially chose to judge, you are beginning to learn to love those parts within yourself, too.
The more I decided to use my judgments as reminders to send love and compassion to these people, the more I learned to love those hurt parts of myself. The more I broadened my perspective on what can be considered beautiful or acceptable in the world.
Of course, there were other things I did along the way to heal my pain and fully accept the woman I am, but this is one that was really helpful for me and that I think we can all implement, regardless of where we are facing challenges in our lives.
And remember, this takes practice, and it’s not about being perfect. It’s about learning to love just a little bit more. <3
Feel free to share this with anyone who may find it helpful, and I look forward to hearing how it helps you.