We live in a world of judgment: This is the right thing to do, this is the wrong thing to do, that person is being very inappropriate, that person is always so kind. Yet what does judgment create? Is it a contribution to our lives or is it destructive?
I’ve looked at the process and practice of judging over the years and have become aware of a number of it’s characteristics and effects.
When we judge, nothing that doesn’t match our judgment can enter our awareness. Suppose your financial advisor suggests a stock that does well, and you then decide, (judge), that he’s the best financial advisor in Australia. Can you see that his first pick might have been a fluke? Or that his wife has left him and he’s not keeping up with the business as he had? Not at all! Your choice to judge him as a wonderful broker automatically disqualifies any awareness that isn’t compatible with what you have decided is true. You could lose a lot of money sticking with that judgment!
Judgment, even positive judgment, locks people into boxes and often prevents them from growing and changing. I once had a very beautiful woman as a client. Her whole life people had been commenting on her beauty and how fortunate she was. As this was all she had heard, she believed that this was all there was to her, and she had become obsessive about her body and her looks. Help! I’ve gained a quarter of a kilo, I think I see a fine line around my right eye. Because of her identification with the judgment of her beauty, she didn’t value anything else. She was kind person, a very talented artist, and extremely bright. None of this mattered as it had nothing to do with the one thing she had been judged and validated for.
Judgment is also a way to control people and influence their choices. We’ve all heard things like: “Only sissy boys play the violin instead of going out for football.” And: “Of course you will grow up to run the family business.” Or: “You don’t want to marry him, he’s not our kind.” Judgment is used to limit other’s choices and get people to do things that we or someone else wants them to do.
Judgment is always arbitrary. Many of us have accepted judgments are real and true, when they are actually just someone’s or some institution’s opinion. Twenty years ago “Spare the rod and spoil the child.” was judged to be a good child rearing practice, now it would be considered child abuse.
Judgment creates the shoulds, oughts, and blame and shame of our lives Are these ever really helpful? Do they ever generate kindness and gratitude and generosity of spirit, or do they just contract people hand contribute to general unhappiness?
Judgment ensures that we live our lives on automatic pilot. If everything has been decided ahead of time, then there’s no point in being present. You know who you’re supposed to be and how you’re supposed to act. How much room is there for you to actually be you?
So why do we judge so much? I’ve been asking this question for many years and here are some of the reasons I’ve heard: Many people express a fear that without judgment to keep them in line, they would be naturally mean or selfish. If you are even thinking this, I can guarantee it would not be true. People who are mean and selfish never question themselves or their motives. Another justification I’ve been given for judging is that it gives people a sense of security. It’s like a rulebook one can follow, and If you follow it, you can escape being judged as wrong! It also gives some people an excuse to be self righteous. The bottom line is that we’ve all been conditioned to not trust ourselves so we look to systems of judgment to make sure we are doing the “right” thing – and for validation. What if you let go of judgment? What would your world look like?
There is an alternative to judgment and that is awareness. Awareness and judgment can look the same, but awareness has no emotional charge to it and can change in a second as people or circumstances change, while judgment has feelings and emotions associate with it and locks the decision or conclusions into place forever. “That man is being mean to his dog.” can be an awareness or a judgment depending on whether there is a charge and a solidification to the statement.
If you are interested in moving beyond judgment there are a couple of things you might try. The first is to give yourself a judgment free day. Every time a judgment pops up, just say: “Sorry, this is a judgment free day. You will have to come back tomorrow.” Another thing you can do is to get our in nature. Nature never judges. Can you imagine the flower saying: “I’m going to bloom for you but not you over there.”? Judgment is a human creation. Nature knows better! I would also encourage anyone looking to limit judgment to take a look at the people in their lives. Who judges you and who doesn’t? How is it to be with these two different groups? I’ve found it’s much more expansive to have people in my life who don’t judge me, themselves or other.
To judge or not to judge is really a choice. What choice will bring you the greatest happiness and ease?