It feels so good. Is it really so bad?
I think it's too simple to say, "Judging is wrong," or "I am trying to be less judgmental." I hear it in yoga and spiritual circles all the time; we are quieting our minds to stop all the ceaseless judging. But I want to take a deeper cut. How about since judging is about as natural as breathing, and probably has some very important survival functions, we just get better at it?
But Laurie, how? Well, it is going to require you to do some real thinking about what you believe in and what you value. Let me break it down for you.
Having a judgment means you have some value against which you are measuring something you encounter. The first step to being a better judge is to reflect on and affirm what you really think is right. This is where the assessment of your "18 Areas of Life" (the first coaching assignment we give new clients) comes in handy. It requires you to write down your ideals and own them. (This may be why people take so long with the homework! It can be kind of intense to have to admit all that.)
Generally, as coaches, we'll leave you be with regard to what you think is "right." If you insist size 12 is your ideal body, okay. If you dream of being a plastic surgeon, we'll make you the best one you can be. We enthusiastically coach meat lovers and vegans. We'll coach you regardless of your sexual orientation or political leanings. We may raise an eyebrow about your love of porn or polygamy, but ultimately we'll help you tell the truth about it, limit it in ways you think are healthy and won't demand that you stop unless/until you're ready. And though we will question almost every one of your beliefs and make you defend them to our satisfaction, because that's how we know you mean it, you won't find us very judgmental, even if we wouldn't choose what you choose. That is, unless we really think you are wrong and we can help you see it a different way. After all, we're not therapists, who passively listen. We actively question your reality, starting with your thoughts!
By now, you know when I talk about judgments, I am not talking about mean-spirited gossip about other people as a way to make you feel better about yourself. We know that's really just self-judgment. I am talking about things you really get annoyed with or hold against yourself or others. Maybe all of these messages that come in the form of judgments are actually positive. Self-judgment can be considered positive if you commit not to feel bad, but to use it as inspiration for change. Judgment of others usually means you aren't communicating effectively with that person (opportunity knocking!) or that you are really judging yourself which, again, is inspiration!
I'll just speak for myself here. I will judge arrogance, meanness, selfishness, injustice, waste, sloth, greed, pride (hmmm, this is starting to sound like the seven deadly sins) but I am clever enough to know it takes one to know one. I can't see anything in someone else I do not see in myself. So, if I want to be allowed to be on a high horse of any form, I better earn it by mastering those negative inclinations in myself. And I do a lot of work on myself to keep myself in check, including meditating, writing exercises and strict promises and consequences for "bad behavior" in any of the above areas. I do mess up from time to time. (Man, did I write a few nasty emails yesterday!) But luckily, I judge myself, get the message to self-correct, pay my consequence ($10 to the person I wrote the mean email to) and re-presence the promise of grace, consistent with my highest ideal.
There is such a thing as higher consciousness. You've been there. It's that state of being in which you know we are all connected and not all that different from one another. And there, some universal truths, equality, connection, acceptance, truth, love and gratitude reign. These are the values we want to embody and live from daily. But we fail. And instead of relishing the challenge of becoming more like our ideal, we find it easier to think and talk about how these are lacking in others. Pity. I am, however, giving you the right to judge from now on, under two conditions.
1) Only if you promise when you catch a judgment to turn it back on yourself for further discernment. Have you overcome the hurdle about which you are judging the other? Can you find compassion for where you/they fall short and commit to do something about it?
2) Only if you've earned the right to judge because you have mastered the thing about which you are judging. In this case, it is your job to lovingly guide those you notice struggling, or at least offer.
If you promise not to look down on others or yourself, you win the right to keep judging away. It keeps your mind alert and tapped into your ideals and ultimately helps you live by Personal Integrityￂﾮ, which will bring world peace if we work it.
P.S. Wanna work on your Personal Integrityￂﾮ like you mean it? Come to Wake Up Your Week, my weekly teleseminar series with me, starting April 2.