Most of us judge other people from time to time. For some of us, it’s from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep. If you never judge other people, or yourself, stop reading immediately. For the other 98% of you, read on.
Judgment creates a gulf between us and the people we are judging, especially if we are judging ourselves. I believe we all have two voices in our heads, our Inner Guide and our Inner Judge. You can read all about this in my book,
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0989888606/ref=dbs_a_def_awm_bibl_vppi_i0 (designated by the Washington Post as a top pick of parenting books in their 2014 line up).
Our Inner Guide is the small, still voice inside us that always comes from a place of heartfelt wisdom; our Inner Judge is the voice that has been honed by years of living in society and playing by society’s rules. We need both voices because, without an Inner Guide, we would wander aimlessly. And without an Inner Judge, we might find ourselves in front of a real judge, due to lack of respect for laws. The difficulty comes when our two selves are warring. The Inner Guide tells us to go outside and watch the clouds or play mud pies with our toddler, and the Inner Judge says we are WAY too busy for any of that nonsense. It’s the rush to judgment before listening to our heart that gets us into trouble.
Judgment leads to distance.
Judgment makes us brittle and just the teensiest bit less human, at least the way I define humanity. It’s a DNA based habit that once helped us separate friend from foe. It’s a survival instinct that serves us well in times of crisis, when we need to make a quick decision. But on a daily basis, it just takes us out of acceptance. It fades all the color in our life until we are left with only black and white—and that’s just boring.
We may feel superior when we judge other people, and that may feel good for a minute. We feel safe in our superiority. But is that worth feeling alone on our pedestal, above the messiness of humanity? It wasn’t for me. I used to judge other people hard—especially while driving. I would scream at drivers who cut me off (only when I was by myself. When the kids were with me, I would just fume internally until that cute little vein in my temple would begin to alarm my girls) thinking,“You IDIOT! Where did you learn to drive!?” I would push myself into a frothing rage and then feel really tired after the adrenaline subsided. It made me anxious every time I drove, and that anxiety began to taint my time out of the car, as well.
That’s what judgment does—it taints everything with an “us vs. them” mentality, and it’s exhausting trying to maintain that level of threat analysis. Now I try to dial down the judgment with awareness. I know my default mode is Judgey, so I ask for help from my Inner Guide when I’m feeling threatened. If someone brags about their kids, I stop before I jump in with something bigger from my bag of kid stories. I resist the urge to “one-up” and instead say, “That’s awesome! You must feel so proud! Way to go, mama!” The response from the parent is always a softening into delight. Immediately, we have a closer connection.
Compassion leads to connection.
If I had chosen the judgment path and bragged about my kids, the result would have been distance, subtle battle lines drawn of who is a better parent. Instead, I leaned into the delight of sharing a Parental high-five and created a link between our hearts.
I dare you to try compassion instead of judgment. The next time your mother-in-law tells you how to raise your kids, instead of dismissing her with a mental hair flip, ask her how that played out with her kids. Let her tell you some parenting stories; create a different connection. Or the next time someone pulls a boner move and cuts you off in traffic, imagine they have a really good reason, like rushing to the hospital, and send them compassion. And if your Inner Judge chimes in with a life sentence, just lovingly tell her to go take a nap! If you've got something to get off your chest, I'm all ears! Just drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.