As a therapist, it is imperative that we create an open, accepting and judgment-free space for clients to explore themselves and heal. Doing this comes naturally and easily to me. I have gone through so many different experiences in my life, and that has given me the insight and knowledge to know that judging is wrong. I have always felt that I am naturally a non-judgmental, so seeing the areas where I had judgment came as a surprise. What has been interesting to me is learning where I had judgments and how I came to learn more about it through having the very experiences I was judging.
When I was young, I, like many people, saw the world through a very black or white lens. Things were right or wrong. I didn’t see “grey.” I knew I had a strong moral compass and value system, but I had not lived enough life to have the wisdom that comes from failure, disappointment, betrayal and hurt.
It was a couple of weeks before I was getting married when my Mom invited me to go to lunch with some of her girlfriends. I looked up to these women and respected them. They were successful and accomplished women in various industries, had nice families and all the things we consider to be indicative of “having it all.” During the luncheon, the conversations blew my mind! I listened to them talk about problems with their children, affairs some of them were having, financial issues, business struggles and many more. I sat there dumbfounded. When my Mom and I got into the car and left, I told her I was heart-broken to find out all the stuff about women who I had always respected and admired. I felt sick to my stomach and wondered what was wrong with them. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I was judging them.
Over the last twenty years, I got married, had three children, got divorced, and have made plenty of mistakes, poor choices, and experienced things I could never have imagined. When I started digging into my life, examining it, and working on myself, I could see that everything I had judgment around, I experienced myself! It’s like I attracted those situations to me so that I could learn from the inside what I could not see from the outside.
One area I have had a lot of judgment about is parenting. When I was younger (before I had children), I was in a department store and heard a woman screaming at her two young children. I stood there watching the situation feeling contempt for the woman, sorry for the kids, and thinking that she was a terrible mom. I was judging her, and what was worse, I had no idea what was really going on.
So you can imagine my shock when, years later, I am at Target, with daughters and my oldest is running off and disappearing into the racks of clothes, and I begin to scream. “Don’t run away! Stay by me! Why aren’t you listening?!” Those were just some of the things I remember saying. But what I was feeling, was total fear that something would happen to her. My oldest was very precocious and inquisitive. She was just being herself. I got scared that something would happen to her. Now, I was that woman screaming at her children in a store. It wasn’t until a woman I knew came up to me and asked if I was okay that it dawned on me how I was now behaving. I stood there and began to cry. I cried for how hard being a mom was, but also, I remembered judging that woman years back and realized I had no clue about what she was going through.
Here is what I have learned about judgment. To begin, I think we all do it. We judge things we don’t understand, agree with, like, align with, and so much more. We judge because we believe in the idea that we are separate or different or better. We judge because we are narrow-minded and rigid in our thinking. We judge because we think we are right and therefore others are wrong. We judge because we are scared and stuck in fear.
We judge for all types of reasons, and none of them are valid! We look at a situation, person or event and make a decision based on some information we have and arrive at conclusions. The problem with this is that when we are judging, we are closing ourselves off to an opportunity to learn, understand and get curious. We are blocking our ability to connect and develop compassion for others as well as ourselves.
On a larger scale, judging other’s creates separation. Now, more than ever, we need more tolerance, acceptance, and connection. Judgment gets in the way. It takes a position of superiority and makes all kinds of assumptions. When we judge another person or group of people, it says nothing of them, but it does speak of us. We can all think of a time when we were being judged. It feels awful, it hurts and makes us feel alone and separate.
So how do we heal this? We get curious, about what we are feeling and what kinds of thoughts are coming up for us. We ask ourselves questions and get honest with ourselves. We remember that we are all connected and that judging others is really self-judgment. We can pray for forgiveness and ask for healing in our hearts so that we don’t judge another. We remember that we truly are all connected and that judging another is really an expression of our own woundedness coming up to show us where we still need to heal and grow. The next time you find yourself having a judging thought, ask yourself, “What do I know about this situation? Is this something that scares me? Is it challenging my values?” If you answer is yes, know there is more for you to learn. We need to be more loving, open, and accepting, not only of ourselves but of others as well. When we love and accept ourselves just as we are, we become that way with other people.
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