Tuesday, February 21, 2017

My Recent Experience with Judgment

I'm sure we've all found ourselves being judged or judging somebody else at one time or another. It's a pretty common occurrence in life.

I've often read about and experienced over the years the negative impact of judgment. It's not something that helps us but tends to hurt us and others. I won't believe you if you tell me that someone is completely free of judgment. I believe it's a natural thing for most of us to do.

I've often spoken of letting go of judgment and sought to do so in my life. Recently, however, it's been staring me in the face. I don't know if I'm being judged by others right now but I do know that I am judging myself. Judging self for not doing this or that, judging self for feeling this way or that way, judging something physical, mental, or emotional, and even, oh yes, subtly judging others. It sneaks up on you as I am about to describe.

I would like to not judge myself or anyone for anything but it just happens naturally. We've been conditioned to judge. Further, many of us are constantly comparing ourselves to others, trying to be better than others, and judging, whether or not we are fully aware of it. I'm not judging this per say, I'm observing. This, of course, is my perspective.

I've heard this one a lot. "Well, this person did this or that person did that but there's no way I would do that." Or we criticize another or gossip about them and so on. We're all guilty of it. We make people wrong or different or somehow unworthy and judge them for what they do, say, or how they look.

Often, again, in my experience I think that when we judge we are seeking to make ourselves feel better about something that we're struggling with inside. Not always, but a lot of the time. Something is missing in us or in our life and we deflect energy elsewhere onto others.

May be this isn't your experience but it has been mine.

I have been told by friends in the recent past that sometimes it is necessary to judge. You judge something that is wrong with the world and say "that's wrong" or "I won't stand for that" and may be take action to stop it or just consciously act differently.

So yes I agree that we have to judge sometimes to differentiate between right and wrong or other people or things (ultimately more judgments but necessary today). But judging to judge, which is what I am talking about, is often negative and it hurts us and it hurts others.

Last thing and then two recent stories:

I've found that if we figure out what it is that bothers us about what we are judging, with enough awareness and courage, we'll often notice that what bothers us about another is something that is bothering us about us. And we're projecting onto them.

Two examples from my life, one internal and one external

#1. Next door to me there is a family of Mexicans. I love Latin America. I have lived in Mexico and Argentina. I worked with the people there for many years. This family seems really nice but I haven't spoken with them, instead, I've judged them. I've judged them for having a yard packed with junk spilling over, for being loud, judged the kids for being negative and angry and acting gangster, for eating at McDonald's, for smoking pot and cigarettes, and believe it or not, for being working class and Mexican.

What? Really? Jon? Yep. I realized, kind of like lightning striking me, that a part of me was judging them but the rest of me wasn't catching on. And then I judged myself for judging them. Woo. Double whammy. I'm doing what I am trying not to do and punishing myself for it.

And you know what, they were probably judging me (or may be not but I think so) for being a tall, lanky white kid with pristine curly hair who shops at Whole Foods, walks the dog like eight times per day, has a trust fund, and drives a Honda hybrid, among other things. Oh wait, am I judging myself again?

I don't know who they are and they don't know who I am. We don't talk. We judge.

#2. I judged myself for being skinny. I've been told so many times over the last few years that I am way too skinny. Am I underweight a bit for my height? Yep. But this is me. I've always been a bit skinny and lanky and I have high metabolism.

But the comments by others ended up giving me a complex which I then created into something far worse, judging myself for not having more weight on these long bones. I was worried about being underweight and thinking may be I was malnourished, I obsessed over it so that when I was eating, I didn't really get many of the nutrients because of the stress.

Yeah, there are other factors to consider but the point is I judged myself and this judgment led to more judgment and a lack of self-love which impacted my ability to gain weight. But then I realized that this is my yogi body (ha) and started to appreciate myself more and slowly I am enjoying food again and accepting me for who I am physically. And I'll probably gain weight and muscle but not because of how I eat but what I say to myself each day before, during, and after eating.

In my experience, judging creates a division within us and between us. It keeps me here and you over there, judging. It puts in and puts out a negative vibe that often leads to separation from humanity, a lack of love and compassion for self and others, and a bitter world of a bunch of people who are misunderstood.

And just today, one of the neighbors who is probably in his late twenties asked me if I like Whole Foods since I was carrying a bag of groceries. I said yes that I like the quality even if it is expensive. I told him that I decided to spend the money anyway to eat healthier. He said yes and agreed by offering: "you are what you eat;" and walked away. Very wise.

I think I'll stop judging them and talk to them.

I realize that there are exceptions to every rule and sometimes may be we do need to judge to take a stand against something and sometimes may be as a form of self-defense or self-definition.

However, I would say that may be instead of judgment, we use discernment. We discern if this thought or this word or this action is really helping us or hindering us and our relationships.

I vote for judging less and loving more. And ultimately, I think judgment divides while compassion unites.