We talked last week about the benefits of having poor judgment. Let’s look further at judgment…
Judgment as a Mirror
Our opinions or judgments of others are a reflection of our judgments about our self. Qualities we dislike in others either push our buttons because:
• They are qualities we wish we had (he really speaks his mind, he never shuts up!)
• They force us to come face to face with something we don’t like about our self (she is so controlling!)
• They remind us of an older version of us which we’ve overcome, and we don’t want to go back there (ugh, I remember when I used to be that clingy)
If we are conscious of it, we can use our judgments to help guide our personal growth as they can help us to discover some qualities, negative or positive, we may be trying to hide. (I work with my clients extensively on this step.) However, we will really be free when we have no judgment of ourselves, or others. This means we have nothing to hide, and we can be in the present moment with all of our potential energy available. Having no judgment is not very likely as a human being, but “poor” judgment can be accomplished.
Judgment in Relationships
When I was 4-5 years old, I told my mother I had a headache. She responded with “No, you don’t, kids can’t get headaches.” Now, I was pretty sure my head hurt, and I made some judgments in that moment, one of which was “my mom doesn’t understand me.” The short version of the story is that for years, I continued to have this judgment, and everything my mother did from that point was interpreted through the filter “she doesn’t understand me.” As you can imagine, with this view I quickly stopped telling her anything. We would have entire conversations in which all I would say was “uh-huh” and “hmmm.”
My mother had NO CHANCE of understanding me when I didn’t communicate! I had only told her selective things over the years, that I thought she couldn’t dispute. I never shared my heart, and our conversations were always tense, like we were waiting for a misunderstanding. I also never attempted to understand her. I was so stuck in my view that I didn’t even care. I say I was 30 when I met my mother, because once I realized the way my judgment had been running the show, I actually began asking her what she thought and felt on a deeper level, and what was important to her. Our relationship has 100% transformed and now has virtually no tension.
So here’s the thing. When I was stuck on my judgment that my mom didn’t understand me, I gave her a very small “space” in which to live when she spoke with me. I expected her to misunderstand, and because of this, I had sloppy and suppressed communication with her, almost ensuring that she would misunderstand. This judgment perpetuated a cycle, which created distance from my mother. And the habit of sloppy and suppressed communication bled over into other parts of my life as well. When I shifted things with my mom, other parts of life shifted too. I became freer than I had ever been to express myself with clarity and authenticity.
Can you start to see how insidious and infectious judgment can be? It can be hard to see the subtle ways in which we are judging in life. Having a coach or another objective 3rd party to identify these with you can be extremely helpful. (Friends and family are a great source of information about how they experience you, but are not the best, “safe” place to work through your judgments.)
• What person or circumstance are you actively judging in your life right now?
• What does your judgment tell you about yourself?
• What difference might it make to let go of that judgment?
• Where in your life do you have a subtle, buried, judgment happening (like me with my mother)?