I was working out at a small gym recently. The only other two people there were a trainer and his client. The latter was a man in his mid-forties, who complained over the course of many minutes, and many exercises, about a woman named Sarah.
He complained about Sarah’s parenting style. Her relationships. Her career choices. Reaching an angry crescendo, he said to his trainer, “I hate it when people say ‘No judgments’—that’s what we do as human beings, we judge!”
That’s true, we do. But we don’t need to attach to our judgments. A judgment is always our problem, our choice to suffer. To close our hearts to another person. To ignore an essential inter-relatedness. To leave reality.
Judgments are not preferences: I like dark chocolate more than white chocolate. Judgments are also not discernments: like noticing when a traffic light is green versus red. A judgment is rather a distortion, a fear-based willingness to believe something false. To believe that someone else must change first in order for us to be happy. To turn ourselves into victims.
We see more clearly, live more effortlessly, act more maturely and joyfully when we do not judge.
If you find yourself believing your own judgments, ask yourself:
- Who am I judging right now? What do those judgments about them really indicate about me?
- Which of my relationships—with friends, coworkers, etc.—are tied together by shared judgments? Are those helping or hurting me?
- Can I make choices that are good for me, without judging others’ choices?
- Can I change my current judgment into a more compassionate discernment?
- Can I have or communicate a preference, without having to believe I’m right?
- Can I say what I have to say without the word “should”?
- Can I release the ways I judge myself so I can love and work more intently and authentically?