“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” ~ Dr. Wayne Dyer
We hear it all the time – don’t judge others. Yet living a non-judgmental life is not easy. We are judging machines, conditioned from birth to see through the lens of limitation.
Here are two specific reasons why we judge:
1. When we judge others, we judge ourselves: The essence of judgment arises from a place of judging ourselves. When we are told at a young age that it is inappropriate to be __________ (such as angry), or not to be ____________ (such as silly), on some level we make these aspects bad or wrong. We then grow up projecting this idea onto others. If we see someone being angry or silly, we judge, not realizing that they are acting out a part of ourselves we feel unsafe to be.
2. We are drama-seekers: Our brains are wired to look for problems. This is why we love watching the news, gossiping and worrying. We wake up in the morning focused on all the potential pitfalls ahead without taking a moment to celebrate and pay gratitude for the good we have.
“Great Spirit, help me never to judge another until I have walked in his moccasins.” ~ Don Stanford
Instead of trying to stop ourselves from thinking judgmental thoughts, an easier way is to look through the eyes of wisdom and compassion. Here are five assumptions that may help:
1. We cannot assume what is best for another
Someone once said to me, “Who are you to think you know what is best for others?! The more you think you know, the less service you can be to them.” We cannot know what another person’s path is about, and why they make certain choices. We don’t know where their learning is meant to come from, and the purpose of their soul’s path. Life is a mystery, and as we mature we realize that the more we know, the more we don’t know.
2. Our fundamental purpose is to learn and grow
We are here to evolve as souls. It is easy to get caught up in the horizontal path of daily living (shopping, paying the bills, going to work, studying) – the doing of life. As important as these tasks are, they represent the small agenda of life. The larger agenda is the vertical path of our soul’s evolution – who we are being and becoming. This is the real reason we are here. When we remember this, it is harder to judge the school of life, and its myriad of obstacles and challenges that act as leverage for learning and growth.
3. We learn more through difficult times
A disciple walks up to his Master and says, “I am having lots of problems at the moment.” The Master responds by saying, “Congratulations!” When times are easy, we grow less than when faced with personal challenges. Therefore, who are we to take the difficult times away from others? Who are we to assume they should not be there?
4. People do the best they can
Despite appearances, people generally do the best they can given their history / conditioning / state of consciousness. Most people are living as a bundle of reactive nerves, reliving the past in the present, which is what re-act means. In other words, they are not consciously choosing, but rather unconsciously reacting. And yet the moment we judge them, we are reacting to their reaction. Someone needs to stop this cycle, and that only begins when we look within and travel the vertical path into our Self.
5. Every action is either a call for love or expression of love
The more we look through the lens of understanding we can see that deep inside we all want the same thing: To love and be loved. We wear many layers and costumes, and walk many roads, but at the core of every decision is this desire. The next time you see someone struggling or reacting, remember that in their own unique way, and without knowing it, they are trying to find their way Home, back to the essence of who we all are, which is love.
A Personal Challenge
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” – Mother Theresa
I invite you to choose a day to practice non-judgment. Pencil it into your calendar. Go throughout your day noticing any impulses to act from judgment – the impulse to react and critique. The moment this impulse arises, notice it, be aware of it, take a few deep breaths, and make a new choice, even if the choice is to say nothing.
See others and your circumstances through the lens of these assumptions. As you do you will have greater trust in the unfolding of life, more humility in assuming you don’t know as much as you think, and deeper compassion and acceptance for others and the choices they make. And in the process, you will love others and yourself.
It is from this place that you, as Gandhi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
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Check out Vince’s book: Let the Fire Burn ~ Nurturing the Creative Spirit of Children, A Children’s Book for Adults