If someone asked me, I’d say I consider myself a pretty non-judgmental person. If I disagree with someone’s choices, for example, it doesn’t stop me from liking that person or treating them with respect. I realized recently, though, that this is not quite enough. Just because my outward behavior doesn’t reflect judgment does not mean that I’m not internally judging others, because guess what? I am (yikes!).
The Danger of Glass Houses
We Are All Judgmental
I find myself thinking “I would never do that! How could someone ever make that choice?” or “I would never guess they would be into that” and then letting this new or surprising information about others color my perceptions of them in ways that are definitely unfair. I realize that just because it’s not voiced aloud doesn’t make it OK!
Now, there are some awful things in this world that, while they may receive our forgiveness, should never receive our acceptance. Most of the things that we judge others for, however, are surface things, differences that are just that – differences, not good or bad, just different from our choices. Judging someone based on surface things, without knowing their whole story is like claiming you visited a city when you really just glanced at it while driving by on the Interstate.
In fact, even when we are very close with someone, we rarely know exactly what it is like to be them. I’m finding that I can stop these judgments in their tracks with a simple, assertive command to myself. I derail these judgments by thinking simply, “To each his own”, “Everyone has their own reasons”, or the one that pertains most to me personally “I too have made some interesting choices” (because hoo-boy, have I ever.) And that’s it. I drop it, with myself, and think of something else more productive than judging another (which is basically anything).
There is a flip side to this as well. When we are judged, be it with a rude comment or a snide remark, we might internalize the judgment, wondering “Why am I like this?” “Why did I do that?” when really we should be secure with ourselves and our choices. I have commands for this type of judgment too, ones that can be internalized or voiced aloud. “It works for me!” I’ll say with a smile, or, “Well, I like it!” “Tomorrow is another day”works well too.
There’s nothing wrong with giving thoughtful consideration to someone’s suggestions or comments, but it should be just that – thoughtful and productive consideration, without feeling insecure or beating ourselves up. Judgment of others often stems from our own insecurities, and when we feel more secure in our own choices and lifestyles, we may find it easier to allow others to feel that way in theirs.
My sister and several of my friends became parents after I did, and we all make both similar and different decisions in the way we raise our children. We could be petty and judgmental towards one another because of this, but instead we share ideas and stories, learning from one another’s choices and the resulting experiences.
We are all loving parents who want the best for our children, and our different perspectives and styles make for some hilarious conversations! When we stop judgments in their tracks, we free up room in our minds to think, dream, imagine or create, things much more positive and productive than judging others, or ourselves.