YOU BE THE JUDGE (OR NOT)

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone
Jesus Christ

Search others for their virtues, thyself for thy vices
Benjamin Franklin

The more one judges, the less one loves
Honoré de Balzac

I am a recovering judgment-aholic. Not yet fully recovered. Not by a long shot. But I am better than I used to be. And I am working on being better than I am now.

I am not talking about discernment today. We need the power of discernment so we can distinguish and select what is true or appropriate. Discernment is an essential, critical tool. Judgment is not. Judgment always carries an attitude of superiority.

One of the best ways to Awaken Our Inner Heroes is to be honest about our own shortcomings. Acknowledging our less glamorous traits is not easy work. It is difficult, humbling work. But it is essential.

Being judgmental has always come easily for me. Too easily, in hindsight. If someone was not as athletic as me, I could judge them. If they had different religious beliefs, I might judge them. If they had a fancier car than me, I might judge them. If a person had a different hair style than me, I could judge them, too. If they were more judgmental than me, I could even judge them. And if they voted for a different presidential candidate than me, I certainly could judge them. The list of why I might judge someone goes on, and on, and on…and I am still capable of all of these judgments today.

For most of my life I didn’t even know I was being judgmental. It was an old habit. We often are not aware of our own habits, even though we can notice someone else’s quite easily.

But there are many serious downsides to this all-too-common habit of judging. And this list goes on, and on, and on, too…

Most importantly, our judgmental habit separates us from whoever we are judging. A fence is built. I am on one side. You are on the other side. Our world is better when we can be different–and still be on the same side of the fence.

Understanding and compassion stop the moment judging begins. We stop learning. We stop discovering. I am right. You are wrong. I am better than you. You are less than me. WE NEED MORE BRIDGES AND LESS BARRIERS.

Not only does understanding stop when judging begins, so does self-discovery. When I pay more attention to your shortcomings than my own, nothing good comes of it. In sports, we always hear the coach holler, “keep your eye on the ball.” The same is true for the rest of life.

Lastly, being judgmental is a black hole. It sucks us in. The more we judge, the more we need to keep judging. It actually becomes an addictive habit. It gives us a quick high of superiority, then, almost immediately, our energy sinks. And the best way to get another quick high–judge again. Oops, now I am heading down–again. Judgment is a drug. A quick high followed by a more pervasive low.

Here is a way out. Notice when you are judging. Be honest. It’s OK, everyone does it. Don’t be hard on yourself. Be kind. Take a breath. Make a choice. Habits are not choices. Decide to let the judgment go. Take another breath. Do it again. And again. Do it often. Do it forever.

No one has ever regretted becoming less judgmental.

Have a great week!