By Jackie White
It’s so easy to assume someone acts a certain way because you can “logically” see that they are just a jerk or stupid or ignorant or uncaring… You put in the descriptor. We all do it. We all decide that we know why someone is behaving a certain way but the truth is most of the time we don’t know.
We don’t know what might be driving their behavior because we don’t know their story. We don’t know that they were bullied as a child and now face the world with fear and anger. We don’t know that their controlling behavior is a result of a traumatic past that left them completely under the control of someone else. We don’t know if they are fighting depression every day and to keep their mind from racing they need to compulsively sweep their sidewalk.
“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.” ~ Carl Jung
Maybe it is that thinking is difficult and we just slap a definition on another. Maybe it’s we assume that we know because we need to have a story about the person. We like to have definitions like “the busy body” or “the neighborhood jerk” or maybe it’s the “ego-inflated co-worker”. We’ve all done it. I’ve done it. I’m not proud of it. So, how about starting today we take a judgment detox?
Let’s begin with why do we judge others?
More often than not, the things we judge in others are a reflection of the things we cannot accept about ourselves. The yardstick we use for ourselves is the yardstick we use for the world. The way you measure yourself is how you measure others, and how you assume others measure you. Ugh, that’s harsh, but in many cases true.
According to research by psychology professor, Dustin Wood, “Your perceptions of others reveal so much about your own personality. Seeing others positively reveals your own positive traits and how satisfied you are with your own life, and how much others like you.
Starting a judgment detox requires us to take a hard look at ourselves and our habits. We have to step back and catch our thinking and reframe it. In the book “Judgment Detox” by Gabrielle Bernstein, she states the first step is to look at your judgment and bring awareness to it. It is important to bring awareness to it yet keep some compassion for ourselves. We all make mistakes and get into not-so-good habits, so give yourself a break and release the guilt or shame you might have. A prayer she offers is “I forgive this thought and I choose again”.
After awareness, it is important to realize that when you judge others, you are not defining them, you are defining yourself. When you frame your judgment in this light, you might feel some resistance, but it is important to examine why you are judging. We all have things we need to work on and this is an opportunity to get honest with ourselves and be compassionate with others.
“When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.” ~ Earl Nightingale
Next up, interrupt your pattern of judging by bringing compassion towards the person and forgiveness for yourself. Choose another response, move on and do better next time.
To summarize, the steps for a judgment detox are as follows:
“You never know what someone is going through. Be kind. Always”
It really is all about catching our natural desire to want to define someone and instead ask ourselves what could this person be going through that I am unaware of? Could they be struggling or maybe they are doing the very best that they can right now? Let’s hope others have the same grace for us, right?
So just for today, and tomorrow and for always, choose kindness and compassion.
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.