Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are.
Are you from the school of thought that espouses non-judgment when interacting with others? If so, you likely have come to this choice because, at least once, you felt the blaming stab of judgment’s finger pointing at you, and you do not wish to inflict the same negativity onto others.
Merriam-Webster dictionary defines judgment as “the act or process of forming an opinion (about something or someone) or making a decision after careful thought.” The operative words here are “after careful thought.” However, even careful consideration followed by a judgmental remark, nine times out of ten elicits defensiveness on the part of the receiver.
So why do we persist in judging others when we know a destructive spiral of defensiveness and resentment is on its way? Making assumptions about others’ motives and then judging those motives as right or wrong, good or bad, is one reason. Since we do not live in another person’s skin, we cannot presume to know them better than they know themselves. And, as the old adage so aptly illustrates—making assumptions makes an ass out of you and me (ass/u/me). Furthermore, the resulting defensiveness does not serve our purpose or strengthen our relationship.
A second reason for judging others is our own unwillingness to take responsibility for our words and actions. The typical consequence being that we project our judgments (insecurities and fears) onto others. As a wonderful 1st Nation’s teaching states, “When we point the finger of judgment at another, the remaining three point back at us.” The implication being that the negative judgments we make relative to others are in reality all about ourselves.
If this is puzzling you, try to catch yourself judging another person. I suspect you will find this easier than you hoped given the judgmental nature of our social conditioning. Once you have caught yourself in a negative judgment toward another person, ask yourself “What does this judgment tell me about me?
The following story about a black dot encapsulates the challenge we face in shifting away from negative judgment.
Upon entering his classroom, a professor asked his students to prepare for a
surprise test. It was only one page, which he handed to each student face down.
When the students turned over the test, the only thing on the page was a black
dot in its centre. The professor instructed the confused students by saying, “I
want you to write about what you see there.”
As the time ended for writing the test, the professor collected all the sheets and
began to read each one aloud to the students. All of them, without exception,
defined the black dot in an attempt to explain its position in the centre of the
sheet. The professor’s explanation for the test follows. “I am not going to grade
you on this, rather I wanted to give you something to consider. Not one of you
wrote about the white part of the paper. Everyone focused on the black dot, which
is what happens in our daily lives.”
Even though our lives are a blank canvas on which we can create what we wish
(much like the white space on the sheet of paper), we habitually focus only on the
dark spots—health issues, lack of money, complicated relationships, disappointments,
judgments, what we want less of, etc. Is it not wise to remember that our dark spots
are very small when compared to everything we have in our lives so why pollute our
minds with them.
What judgment (dark spot), can you free yourself of today? Write an affirmation to reframe the judgment into something you want more of.
If you are pained by external things; it is not they that disturb you; but your
own judgment of them. And it is in your power to wipe out that judgment now.
Marcus Aurelius Antonnus
For more on positive affirmation and creation, click here.