“The tendency on the part of human beings to “judge” (i.e., label, criticize, condemn, and so on) plays a significant role in fostering separation among people. For whatever reason, our minds have what appears to be a natural inclination to pass judgment on people, places, situations, etc. While no one wants to be considered judgmental, as this description carries a very negative connotation, the fact is everyone does judge. It is essentially impossible to completely avoid making judgments, for nearly every one of our thoughts has some judgment associated with it.
For example, to describe a meal as delicious is a judgment, as is making a comment that a particular person is attractive. However, it is critical here to make a distinction between the terms judgment and observation. The former involves applying your opinion along with emotion, while the latter involves merely commenting on what you notice. In any event, the first step in addressing your tendency to judge is to simply admit to yourself that you do judge. This does not imply by any means that you are a judgmental person; it simply means that you acknowledge this behavioral inclination rather than deny it. As you come to accept that you do regularly judge, you can then begin to become more aware of when you are doing so.
It is also very important to come to an understanding of what the essence of judging other people is really all about. In particular, the reason we judge others is that we see them, not as they are, but as we are. In other words, we filter them through our belief system. Therefore, our judgments do not really say anything about the other person; they merely describe what our preferences are. Whenever someone doesn’t ‘match up’ to our personal standards, we automatically place some sort of judgment on them.
When I first came to this awareness about judgment, it was a bit of shock to me because, prior to that, I had been a person who constantly criticized other people. In fact, during the time I was working in my first job after graduate school, I was given the nickname ‘character assassin’ simply because of my proven ability to make fun of other people. Reflecting back upon that time in my life, the fact is that, deep down inside, I knew that judging others was wrong, but I had no awareness as to why.
Once I came to understand that judging others simply defined my preferences, and that people would go on being whatever they were being despite those preferences, life has never been quite the same for me. Sure, I still have a day-to-day tendency to judge, but the difference is that now I at least have some awareness of when I am moving into judgment, whereas in the past I was oblivious to it. This awareness is not just at an intellectual level, but is often physically based as well, as sometimes I honestly feel a sensation in the pit in my stomach when I am being judgmental. Another very important point to understand about judgment is described in this passage from a very interesting book called, You Are The Answer, by Michael J. Tamura:
“We may fool ourselves into believing that we are fundamentally different from the person we are judging, but, in truth, we can never recognize in another what we don’t have in ourselves.”
Please read the above quotation again and take a few moments to ponder it; this can be a very difficult concept to comprehend. What it essentially means is that whatever strongly irritates you about someone else is actually mirroring back to you an aspect of yourself that you have denied, suppressed, or not yet learned to love. This excerpt from Debbie Ford’s “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers” builds upon this very important point:
“Our indignation over the behavior of others is usually about an unresolved aspect of ourselves. If we listen to everything that comes out of our mouths when we talk to others, judge others, or give advice, we should just turn it around and give it to ourselves.”
This is undoubtedly a challenging concept for us to accept, particularly because at a conscious level, we are virtually unaware that these aspects even exist. However, if you are open-minded enough to give it some credence, it can provide you with another method for coming to a better understanding of yourself. For example, when you do find yourself judging, you can use it as an opportunity to look within and ask yourself, “What is it that this person is showing me about myself?” The answer may not come immediately, but if you are sincere in your intent to discover it, eventually you will.
I personally have learned a lot about myself by applying this approach; usually finding what really annoys me about someone else is a behavior that I myself used to engage in. For instance, I now tend to become quite bothered by people who make it a regular practice to criticize other people. Yet, as discussed earlier, at one point I behaved in precisely the same way. If you are truly honest with yourself in this process, it is quite probable that you will likewise make comparable discoveries. A final point to be aware of regarding judgment is that participating in it actually serves to interfere with your connection with Divinity itself. Deepak Chopra addresses this point in the following passage from his book “The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success”:
“When you are constantly evaluating, classifying, labeling, analyzing, you create a lot of turbulence in your inner dialogue. This turbulence constricts the flow of energy between you and the field of pure potentiality. You literally squeeze the “gap” between thoughts. The gap is your connection to the field of pure potentiality. It is that state of pure awareness, that silent space between thoughts, that inner stillness that connects you to true power.”
This “field of pure potentiality,” also known as the ‘God Force’, is the source of all your creativity. As such, participating in judgment not only fosters separation between you and fellow souls, but also limits your personal power and your overall creative potential as well. It is therefore in your best interest to reduce the amount of judging that you do on a daily basis. This, of course, takes a lot of practice, but once you come to the awareness that judging does not in any way serve you, it becomes virtually impossible to judge and not feel a bit awkward about doing so. As you do make progress in your effort to move away from judgment, you will not only experience a quieter mind, but will also have a greater feeling of ‘connectedness’ with all human beings, and with all other elements of creation as well.
(The preceding article is an adapted excerpt from Spirituality Simplified, Copyright 2002 & 2014, by Jeff Maziarek.)
About the Author
Jeff Maziarek is an inspirational speaker and author. His first book, Spirituality Simplified is an easy-to-understand and entertaining work that provides an ideal starting point for anyone with a sincere desire to pursue a path of personal and/or spiritual growth. His second book, Codi’s Journey, is a memoir about his beloved Border Collie who passed away in 2005.
Spirituality Simplified is available on Amazon.com in both print and eBook formats. Codi’s Journey also can be purchased on Amazon.com in both print and eBook formats and on BarnesandNoble.com in eBook format . To subscribe to Jeff’s free daily inspirational emails called “PONDER on THIS,” please visit his Pondercentral website.