We Must Learn to Let Go of Judgment
This post is part of The Awakened Heart Project
Week 15: We Must Learn to Let Go of Judgement.
“We should be lenient in our judgment, because often the mistakes of others would have been ours had we had the opportunity to make them.”
Part 1: Do Not Judge Others
Judgment: it’s a word that has a lot of weight behind it. The words that come with judgment are most often heavy, cold and unkind. There is nothing to gain when we judge. Nothing. If you know of something, please comment and let me know, because I can’t think of one thing.
When you judge others and others judge you, you put negative energy out into the world and in your heart. You’re also spreading a message that is likely not 100% truthful. Judgment is based on personal beliefs and schemas. Therefore, when you judge, you’re really showing many of your true colors. Sometimes, these colors are uuggglllyyyyy! These colors can easily out weight the beautiful colors underneath. We all know the saying, “Let your true colors shine!” But if your true colors are dark and sullen, then your “shine” will look much more like a dark cloud. I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a sunny day, over a raining day, ANY DAY! But hey, we can’t be a masterpiece all the time. We’re human. Not a single one of us is perfect.
Which brings me to my next point…
Part 2: Do Not Judge Yourself
Not only is judging others unkind, and frankly a waste of time, but so is judging yourself, your choices, appearance, “mistakes” (i.e. growth opportunities), and/or your life. Judging yourself is just has harmful and unkind as judging others. Remember the quotes, “You are what you think. You become what you believe”? If you’re constantly judging yourself, and engaging in negative self-talk, how will you even blossom and move forward become the person you want to be, and living the life you were meant to have?
When you pass judgment on yourself, you keep that dark, sullen cloud hovering over your heart and mind casting darkness and negativity all around you. But this dark place in no place for a flourish life. Yes, a little rain is needed for growth, and rainbows become visible as the skies clear, but sunshine is also essential! Besides, there’s enough gloom and doom in the world around you, -enough people already criticizing and passing judgment, so why be another cloud in your life?
Part 3: Understanding Judgment
Gaining an understanding of why we judge, and the impact it has is very important. We must understand our thoughts, actions, and feelings if we want to change them. Dani, from Positively Present came up with these great lists explaining many of the main reasons we pass judgment, what this does to us and others, and how to stop. Positively Present is an amazing site that I highly recommend checking out! You can read the full article from Positively Present Here
4 Reasons We Judge Others
- We are insecure. This is the main reason we judge. When we are insecure and/or unhappy with who we are, we try to put other people down. Though it doesn’t usually build us up when we put others down, we do it anyway. We want to feel good by making others feel bad.
- We are scared. Often, when we’re scared or intimated by other people, we’ll put them down. Coworkers band together and make fun of their boss (see The Office). Two women see a prettier woman as a threat and they make fun of her outfit. When people are scared, they try to feel better by putting others down. We also may fear those who are different from us and may judge them just because they are unlike us.
- We are lonely. As I mentioned before, there is a bonding element that goes along with judging others. When you are lonely, you might use judgments to bond with other people, but these bonds are based on negativity. The bonds you have based on judging others are superficial and are not likely to contain true substance.
- We are seeking change. When we want our own lives to be different, we are quick to judge the lives of others. For example, if someone wants to be in a committed relationship and his friend gets engaged, he might whisper, “Oh, that girl is so not right for him. I don’t know why they’re getting married.” If we are jealous of others’ changing lives we are likely to make quick judgments.
I would like to add another reason we might judge: We judge because we actually want something better for someone else, and we want them to make a positive change, but we want to or don’t know how to say it to them directly. Sometimes we want these changes, but we also know that we cannot say these things because it is not our life, or our business, so instead we pass judgment.
5 Things Judgments Do
- Hurt other people. This might not always happen. If the person never finds out what you said, you’re in the clear, right? Not necessarily. Things have a way of coming back and hurting people in unexpected ways. Think about what you say. Would you say that to his/her face? If not, it’s probably best left unsaid (and un-thought!).
- Make you feel worse about you. When you judge others (or, at least, when I do), you feel bad afterward. You don’t feel good about yourself. You might get a tiny rush from the judgments, but, ultimately, you feel guilty. You think you’re a bad person for casting such harsh judgments on others. You bring yourself down when you bring others down.
- Perpetuate stereotypes. The more judgments out there in the world, the more stereotypes get formed and people are trying to live up to (or avoid) the ideas of what they are “supposed” to be. Whether stereotypes are based on race, gender, spirituality, ethnicity, appearance, or any other attribute, they are bad news. They force people (including you!) to feel as if there are standards they must meet instead of living a free, happy life. Don’t be a part of perpetuating stereotypes with your own judgments.
- Put negativity into the world. No matter what you say, or how you rationalize your judgments, they are not bringing anything good into the world. They bring others down. They bring you down. They make the world a more unhappy place. Can you imagine if we were all accepting and loving of one another? Can you imagine what the world would be like if we tried to understand other people rather than judging them?
- Encourage you to judge yourself. If you’re judging others, you’re probably judging yourself pretty harshly as well. As for me, I know this is the case. For example, I judge what other people wear, and, as a consequence, I’m extremely concerned with what I wear. I spend quite a lot of time on my clothing and appearance and I bet I would do this less if I didn’t judge others so harshly.
6 Ways To Stop Judging
- Monitor your thoughts.Think about what you thinking about. I often go along thinking things about other people, judging them, and I don’t even realize it. I’m going to work on paying more attention to my thoughts and do my best to push them in a positive direction.
- Look for the positive. Judgments are negative. There is almost always something positive you can find in someone or something. While my mind might immediately focus on the negative, I can push my thoughts in a more positive direction and look for something nice to say. And, of course, if you can’t find something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
- Avoid stereotyping. Stereotypes are never, ever good. I really try to avoid them, but I know I don’t always. As I said above, they really create a lot of negativity in the world and I know I don’t want to be a part of that. I want to work on recognizing stereotypes and working to avoid them at all costs. There is no need for them in my life.
- Stop judging yourself. It’s not all that easy to do, but the more we judge ourselves, the more we’ll judge others. I judge myself a lot and I need to work on that. I need to focus on the positive aspects of me and then it will be a lot easier to focus on the positive aspects of others. There’s no reason to be so hard on myself and I’m going to really, really work on this one.
- Focus on your own life. When all else fails and judgments are hard to push away, focus on yourself. Don’t worry about what other people are doing/wearing/etc. Think about your own life. Focus on what you want and go after it. When you’re trying to avoid your own problems, it’s easy to criticize others. Don’t. Think about you and focus on the good things.
- Remember how it feels. Remember how it feels to be judged. AND remember how it felt the last time you judged someone else. It doesn’t feel good to judge or to be judged so put an end to it right now. I’m going to work on remember these feelings the next time I feel like a negative thought about someone else is cropping up.
Part 4: Cutting Your Ties With Judgment
The first thing you must do if you want to stop judging yourself and others is to recognize and accept that you’re doing it. You must realize and believe that judgments are nothing but negative energy that have no positive outcome, and try to change them. This can be difficult, especially if you’re in the habit of making judgments. But when you notice that you’re passing judgment, ask yourself, “What good does it do me or them when I pass judgment? Is this going to change anything or just make me bitter”? Chances are you’ll quickly stop judging. Remember, we are all human, and have all made mistakes. However, we are each on our own journey. The paths we take are personal, and no one should judge another’s path.
“We are all inclined to judge ourselves by our ideals; others by their acts.”
― Harold Nicolson
- When was the last time you passed judgement on someone? Did it change anything?
- Recall a time when someone passed judgement on you. How did it make you feel? Now put yourself in their shoes?
- If a child came to you and spoke about judging a classmate, what would you say to them?
- If a child came to you and told you other students were judging him/her and he/she now felt badly, what would you say?
- Chances are you would tell the child not to judge others, and you would tell the child that others’ judgement is unkind and unwarranted. Now tell yourself that as well. Speak to yourself as if you were a child. Speak gently. We are all still human and need kindness.
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