I always thought I don’t really judge people or at least not a lot. And then I read an article (that I can’t find now☹) on a woman’s experience trying not to judge for a whole month and it really got me thinking about my behavior. I’d like to think I have an inclusive heart and, in many ways, I am fairly accepting of how different people live their lives and the choices they make especially when it doesn’t impact mine but as I sat with that emotion, I realized I judge and I judge more than I’d ideally like to.
And over the days, as I started paying attention, I noticed a lot of voices that sounded like this –
- Why was he walking around in those clothes?
- But seriously, why doesn’t she take a break and leave the kids with dad for just one night?
- I really can’t image he said that, I would never do that
No matter, what my intention, it’s not my place to judge. I never know what’s happening in someone’s life and what their situation is. I realized I judged for a myriad of reasons. Often, it is simply a habit solidified over time. Sometimes, other people’s choices trigger my insecurities and fears. Sometimes, it makes my ego happy and she likes to believe there is some moral superiority going on. Sometimes it is exhaustion and fatigue that causes my mind to resort to unhealthy thoughts and behaviors
But clearly, I wanted to change —
So, I too committed to not judge for a month and if I am honest, it is really hard, and I sure have broken this commitment many a times…
The most effective practice is to develop awareness in noticing my thoughts and choosing compassion for myself when I do go astray and start again the next moment. It is believing that I have the power to choose my words but even more importantly to slowly and patiently even choose my thoughts. It is also an exercise in noticing my strong judgment toward myself at moments and choosing to love even for the imperfect and icky parts of myself and let me be real here because there are many parts that are broken and difficult but learning to love myself through them is an incredible exercise in choosing love for the world. I can give what I have and to choose love for the outside I must start on the inside.
After my sister’s wedding last month, my mom, sister and I stayed up one night, and I was so tempted at many times to share an opinion on someone and I realized, nope that’s a judgment and it’s not productive. Over the last few weeks, there are numerous times when I do notice my thoughts, ask myself if I really need to say something and stop myself. But again, there are numerous times when I have failed and said words that didn’t add any value in any way and if anything reinforced my habit I am trying to break. Such situations are often hard when people discussions happen, it can be an addictive cycle and I am trying to really be more aware and choose wisely.
And sometimes, it is hard to not get upset, not have an opinion when I am triggered as I see things going against my moral compass and my values and I am learning to remind myself that again it is not my place to judge. It is one thing if I am standing up for something and advocating for a change on social media. I don’t need to conflate that behavior with judgment. But often, I am not an activist or intending to make a change but simply giving in to the habits of my mind.
Sometimes, I would justify my behavior in the name of “venting.” Lately, I am “trying” that every time I get emotional or upset and feel like venting, I pause and ask if venting will truly help my wounds heal or I should first calm myself down and then decide if I need to vent or there is another healthy alternative. I am a big advocate of speaking through my hurt with intention and purpose to heal but it’s the casual commenting that is often not productive. And even when I am hurt by someone’s behavior, can I still try to choose compassion and kindness and trust that the intentions were productive.
Simply setting an intention, noticing, reflecting and starting again is helping. I am not perfect nor am I trying but slowly, surely change is happening, and I am grateful for that😊