grew up in a family situation in which judging others--and often
making fun of them--was pretty much the norm. I don't see
that as an awful part of who my family members were, for that's
what they learned somewhere along the line about how to treat and
deal with other human beings. Their judgment was more a
reflection of their own fears and insecurities than it was a
statement about who the other people were. It took me quite
a long time to realize just how inappropriate and harmful this
habit was, and it took me just as long to leave behind the habit
of judging others myself.
judge someone, after all, I'm almost always looking at an
incomplete picture of their actions and their motivations.
It's easy to get angry at the person who just took your parking
space, but you know, there's a very good chance that he didn't see
you, or that something terrible just happened in his life that
keeps him from seeing things that he normally would have seen.
tendency to judge seems to be based partly on our need to be
right--we see someone else do something that we don't believe is
right, so we judge them to be wrong. The problem with this
tendency, of course, is that our version of right is based upon
our personal systems of belief--and what's right for us isn't
necessarily right for others. We may be tempted to convince
ourselves that there's such a thing as a universal right and
wrong, and that we are the enlightened ones who know what that
universal right is, but the fact is that right and wrong are
almost always matters of perspective and of beliefs.
tendency to judge also seems to be based upon our need to lift
ourselves above other people to make ourselves feel better.
After all, if you just did something wrong and I can judge you
harshly for that, while I personally didn't do anything wrong,
then I'm somehow better off than you, I'm somehow more
compassionate or more deserving or more courteous or more honest
than you. And that, for some reason, should make me feel
judgment really ends up being nothing more than a way to put more
distance between us as people. It's just a way for us to
find more cause for separation, more reasons not to come closer to
another person, not to accept another person fully, not to become
better friends with someone. Judgment helps us to maintain
our illusion that separation is good for us, our illusion that
there are many good reasons for avoiding closer contact and closer
keeps us looking at life from a "right and wrong"
perspective, without feeling the need or desire to understand what
other people may be going through. When I was young and I
heard judgmental statements, those words made me feel that there
never was a chance of becoming friends with the person or persons
being judged. Those people were worse than us, after all,
and there was no reason to feel closeness, compassion, or
friendliness with those people.
over the years that judgment on my part has hurt me greatly.
There have been many great people that I've never come to know
well because I judged them too early on too little evidence.
There have been situations that I've shut myself out of,
relationships that I avoided, people that I never met, simply
because I had this need to find something wrong in others.
Perhaps it was a defensive measure on my part, but I'm more
convinced that it was more a question of ignorance that kept me
from seeing things more clearly.
I try hard
not to judge now, and I find that I see many more brilliant things
these days, and I meet many more very cool people because I don't
allow myself to create the obstacle of my judgment between me and
anyone else. Life with little judgment in it has become very
pleasant, and I see people much more clearly and much more
compassionately when I know that no matter what they do, I'm going
to try to understand it rather than judge it. When I set
myself up as judge, then I put a tremendous burden on myself and
on others whom I expect to live up to my expectations. Life
is much richer when I rid myself of such a useless and difficult