Hi dear friends,
For many years I’ve been in a self-study of sorts on the topic of judgment. Long ago, a teacher of mine tasked me with the practice of simply noticing the moments where I engaged in judgment. As someone who believes so strongly in my own kind-hearted nature, I was stunned to witness that the judgment that I also hold permeates into every faction of my life. This was eye-opening. Even though it has been years, I came to this stark realization; I still struggle with the concept of judgment, and more so, the judgment I subsequently have because of my own judgmental nature.
So I have been reflecting on what I think this all means, and how to begin to transform it into something that can make life feel a little more free and light. The truth about judgment is, it’s extremely heavy.
For me, judgment is the act of holding negative and critical views or opinions of someone or something. Usually, it’s a knee-jerk reaction, with heightened emotion. Judgment tends to look like stories we write about other people, comparisons we make, and often times, criticisms that aren’t based on truth or facts.
For me, judgment often looks like:
“Ugh, I can’t believe that person just did that, what are they thinking!”
“Wow, I would never in a million years do that, they must be a terrible person”
“Only a bad person would believe that”
“Ew, that looks so bad”
As you can see, this sampling of some of my own judgmental thoughts are negative and highly critical in nature. I’ve thought these things about people I don’t even know, people I love, and even about myself. Judgment doesn’t discriminate, but the foundational through-line is that it tears someone or something down, in order to lift someone or something up.
It’s an illusion of being better than that person or thing that we are judging.
The thing about judgment is that it’s really not productive or inspiring or motivational. It’s really just an energy drain. I feel worse when I’m extra judgmental. I feel more unhappy, agitated, and anxious. And I know so many of us feel the same way.
The tricky thing about judgment is that it’s extremely hard to stop, it’s so embedded in our nature, our culture, our society. I used to think that it was possible to eliminate judgmental thinking, but after all this time, I’m not so sure that’s possible. I do think, though, that we can start to train ourselves to be less engaged with it. To be aware of the judgments, and choose differently. To nip it all in the bud, rather than letting it fester.
Ultimately, minimizing judgment will help us to move closer to where we want to be. Take a moment to think about how much time, effort, and energy you spend in judgment: being concerned with what’s wrong with other people and other things, harboring in that hostile energy. The truth is, hating on other people and things won’t help us thrive, but rather keep us stuck in a loop of self-sabotage. We don’t have to live in the judgment. It can be a role in our lives, but not the main character.
I know that I’m throwing a lot at you on such a heavy and oftentimes confusing topic, so I want to leave you with some simple reminders when you start to examine judgment in your life. Remember that this is something that we all experience, if this resonates with you, this does not make you a bad person, but rather, provides such a beautiful opportunity for growth and peace.
- Remember that judgment stems from stories and opinions that we’ve told ourselves. Oftentimes it’s not true, kind, or productive. When faced with a judgment, talk back to it with something that’s true, and redirect your mind to something that’s useful for you in your own life.
- Remember that we all live life through a completely unique lens. Other people may not view the same scene like you do. Other people haven’t had the same experiences that you have had.
- Remember that sometimes, the judgments that we hold about other people really are none of our business. It’s easier to critique someone else’s life and patterns than to focus inward on ourselves. But it’s the turning of the mirror and our own self-work that will help us grow into the best version of ourselves.
- Remember that sometimes the harshest judgments are not about others, but about ourselves. Release the need to compare who you are with the rest of the world. You are unique and perfect as you are.
- Remember that taking action is a beautiful way to move through anything in life. If faced with judgment that won’t dissipate, ask yourself what aligned action you can take to help shift the situation, and help bring you back to peace.
Michelle is Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life's Creative Director and resident writer. She has a degree in Journalism from Indiana University and is also a certified holistic health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and registered yoga teacher with trainings with Anuttara Yoga Shala and Strala Yoga. Michelle has a deep desire to help people find happiness in all areas of their lives, and truly believes the Peaceful Mind Peaceful Life movement will bring lasting change to the world. Michelle splits her time between Florida and New York City and loves connecting with people from all over the world. If you'd like to contact her, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org