Saturday, May 30, 2009

Not Judging is Stupid

So, if you're laughing now after reading the title, this should be easy. If not, well...

Over the past months I've been amazed at the number of people I've talked with who have said that they are no longer going to judge anyone, anything, or any situation. My impression has been that they were doing so because they hold the belief that "judging is bad".

Of course, the whole premise is a bit flawed. First of all, we judge pretty much all the time. We judge certain experiences as wonderful. We judge our children as amazing gifts from God or the universe. We judge the outcome of some elections as great for the country. We judge the word intelligent as good.

And of course, we also judge other things negatively. We judge some experiences as terrible. We judge some children as difficult. We judge the word stupid as bad.

Basically, judgment is an integral part of of who we are.

So, what's the issue with judgment? I think that the issue with judgment is that judgment is powerful. It affects our perception of the world. It affects how we feel. It affects who we are and who we are becoming.

When we judge something as bad for us, we start experiencing it as bad for us. We actually start to feel, well, bad. If we judge someone as bad for us, we start to look for evidence of them doing things that are working against us or undermining us or lying to us.

Judgment is powerful.

Given this, what do we do with judgment? I believe that the key is not eliminating judgment. The key is becoming aware of and intimate with our judgments.

In general, we have our judgments for good reason. Our judgments are a way of taking care of ourselves. For example, if I am a parent who is concerned about my child spending time with another child who may be doing drugs, I may judge the other child as a negative influence, as bad, as evil. I do this as a way of protecting my child. The judgment fuels my motivation and causes me to act in bigger and stronger ways.

On the flip side, if I judge a promotion at work to be good for me, I motivate myself to work longer hours, to work harder and to do things that will lead to the promotion, even at the expense of other things.

So, judgment is a powerful tool. And, as is the case with powerful tools, the key is not to avoid judgment, but instead, to become familiar with it, why I'm using it and how it works. By doing this, I become the master of my judgments. I can learn to choose the tool that is best for the job at hand.

So, why is not judging stupid? When I judge judging, I start to dismiss cases of judging as not judging. Rather than embracing my judgments and understanding them, I avoid them and fail to see them.

So, here's my challenge. First, list five judgments that you have that you've been avoiding or dismissing (come one, you know you have them). Second, now that you have the list, look at each of them and see how they're serving you, i.e, look at the reasons for your judgments. Third, now that you see the reasons, what do you think? Do you want to keep the judgments? Do you want to modify them? Do you want to discard them?

Have an awesome (awesome is a judgment) weekend!

1 comment:

  1. “I think that the issue with judgment is that judgment is powerful. It affects our perception of the world. It affects how we feel. It affects who we are and who we are becoming.

    When we judge something as bad for us, we start experiencing it as bad for us. We actually start to feel, well, bad. If we judge someone as bad for us, we start to look for evidence of them doing things that are working against us or undermining us or lying to us.”

    If judging operates as your described above, then why did you decide to defend and attach yourself to it, as if “judgment [were] an integral part of of who we are”? Why celebrate the practice of focussing on things we do not want?

    A primary learning I’ve taken from Option is that I can just as easily forego judgments and say/think/acknowledge, “I don’t want that”. In such acknowledgement, I set myself free to resume focus on purpose-informed intentions.

    I believe that judgments operate as a form of attachment. When I’m judging I’m hooked in with unwanted stimuli. I’m distracting myself, such that I’m no longer present to happily purposeful intentions.

    Please, don’t read this as a judgment against your judgment that “not judging is stupid”. As you note, “judgment is powerful”. I write to celebrate my belief that, when I choose “to be happy with” an unwanted stimulus and present to my happily clarified purpose, I engage a far more powerful and useful strategy for taking care of myself.

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