Sunday, March 8, 2009

What's so bad about judgments?

Beliefs and judgments are what I am all about!!

I have never been able to fully master the rolling R that is part of the Dutch language. You can find the letter R four times in my birth name. So, I have had the opportunity to practice the letter R every day of the thirty-seven years I have been walking this beautiful planet, all without much success. When I got married I was thrilled to take my husband's last name - no more R juggling in my last name. I still have to spell my last name to people, but I can spell all the letters correctly and make myself understandable!

The American R is way easier for me. I don't believe people around me normally think "wow, she has problems with R". I am clear and understandable for them, except in one situation: when I introduce myself by my first name Iris!

Regularly I receive feedback that when I call someone on the phone, the other party does not understand my "hello, this is Iris" (that is ee-riss not eye-riss). People sometimes hear Iris and other times they hear ee-niss or ee-liss or ee-iss or any number of variations. In my attempts to be understood, I have used different versions of the following intro: "Hello, my name is Iris (ee-riss), that's spelled I R I S, like Iris (eye-riss) the flower, etcetera".

Given the length of my last name and the difficulties with my first name, it can take some time to get through "hello" when talking on the phone. So today, for the first time ever, I have been playing with the idea of taking a new first name. I thought about new names and then tried them on to see how they felt. While I did this, I started to notice my wants around the name, but also beliefs and judgments I hold around names.

Some of my wants:
  • I want a name that I can pronounce clearly
  • I want a simple name
  • I want a name that has a meaning that connects with me
  • I want to be easily understood when I say my name only once
Some of my believes and judgments:
  • If I pick my own name it has to be special
  • My new name must strengthen my personality
  • A name that sounds too mannish is not good
  • A name that sounds too girlish or childish is not good either
  • I believe I have to represent myself as a strong woman, so Kitty doesn’t work
  • It is impractical to use a name that you cannot pronounce
Let's say you define a belief as a conclusion you form or buy about yourself, others, events or objects. For example: I believe my name is difficult to pronounce in a way that people can understand me at all times.

Judgments are defined as an important subset of beliefs. With judgments, we take a belief and ascribe value to it. For example: I believe my name is difficult to pronounce in a way that people can understand me at all times and this is bad. In the first case, my belief is not loaded or charged in any way, it's just a simple statement of what I believe about my name and my ability to pronounce it. In the second case, I take a simple belief and ascribe a good or bad, right or wrong type of value to it. This transforms the belief into a judgment.

As humans, we create, adopt, modify and discard beliefs all the time. In particular, we have a wonderful ability to transform beliefs into judgments. One of the things I often hear people who have been introduced to the judgments concept is that they want to drop all their judgments. I believe this is a misuse of this tool.

While dropping judgments is an important part when you counsel or support someone (it allows you to have maintain an accepting and loving attitude towards the explorer), I don't belief it should be someone's goal to eliminate judgments. In my eyes the goal is to understand our judgments and their implications, and then, in the light of that understanding, change them, discard them, or keep them. Judgments aren't bad.

The reason I believe that it's important to understand this is that, when we start viewing our judgments as bad or something to get rid of, we start to avoid them and not see them. When we view our judgments as simply, judgments, then we can look at them clearly and see what they are telling us about ourselves.

With that in mind, it's amazing how you can see your beliefs and judgments active in almost anything you do. It's easy to see judgments when talking about politics or religion or money. But we can learn so much when we see our judgments active when we look into the mirror, or when we're driving our cars, or when we're considering new names for ourselves.

So, this week, I'd like to invite you to join me in some judgment exploration homework. You can start right now by thinking of five judgments that you've made in the last 24 hours. What was the situation? What was the judgment? Why were you making the judgment? How was it helping you? How do you feel about having made the judgment? Would you like to change it, keep it, or discard it?

Happy Sunday! I'd love to hear from you.


  1. Judgements to me are simply the meaning we attach to whatever the stimuli might be. To be 'non-judgemental' when walking with another with an Option attitude, simply means to me to postpone making up or attaching any meaning to what the other is sharing.

    Are you serious about exploring another name, just as Suzi Kaufman did when she decided to opt for Samaria? I fondly can see her in my mind when Bears introduced me to her, and I called her by her original name. Larry

  2. Iris: thanks for the crystal-clear definitions. I've been 'doing' Option for a few years now and hadn't seen those before. Will be checking back in here soon to do your homework assignments :).


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