judge – verb – to form an opinion or conclusion about.
Since birth, we have been given direct and indirect guidance about what is ‘right’ and what is ‘wrong.’ This led to our beliefs about what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’…in ourselves and others. Religious beliefs, societal rules, and parental guidance are all sources of these beliefs. Over time, these definitions may change, but the fundamental act of judging typically stays with us.
So as we grow older, our typical day may consist of waking in the morning and judging one’s reflection — “I need to lose weight”… walking to the kitchen and judging a spouse — “Why didn’t he take out the trash yesterday?”… walking in the living room and judging children — “Why didn’t they put their toys away?”…back to judging yourself — “I’m such a terrible parent”…to judging your parents — “If only my parents were better parents, I wouldn’t be in this situation”…to reading the newspaper and judging others — “These celebrities don’t know what real problems are…they have too much money and take too many drugs…and oh my goodness, what is she wearing?!”
Before breakfast, it is possible to have spent a lot of energy with a continuous stream of judgements. If you consider how that might expand as you drive to work and judge the driving of others…not to mention a day of judging the actions of others at work…plus the customer service you receive at restaurants, coffee shops, etc… and before you’ve even returned home, you’re mentally exhausted by the accumulation of these judgements. With reality TV, Facebook, Twitter, gossip news, etc. we have created even more opportunities to see people to judge and share our judgements.
At the end of the day, all of our judgements are based on our expectations. This is the basis upon which we consider something to be right or wrong. No two people will ever agree on every single thing.
So what do we do with all of this? Is it wrong to have and share opinions? Fundamentally, I don’t think having an opinion is that big of a deal. The danger can come when we become attached to our opinion. When we believe that only our view is correct, we can set the stage for disaster. Our thoughts influence our behaviors. Wars are started this way because one person believes their God to be different than another person’s God. Or because one person’s skin color is judged to mean something different than another’s. Even more simply, when someone does not live up to your expectations, there is a tendency to take that personally and respond negatively to that person.
The reality is that most of what other people do and say has no effect on you. Making judgements about how other people live their lives is a convenient distraction to keep you from living your life. If you sit around all day talking about what other people are doing, you don’t have to focus on what you should be doing.
When we are able to move past constantly judging right and wrong, we clear mental space to hear our spirit guiding us to share our gifts. And we are left with more energy to do what we need to do. :)
Photo source: by Steve McCurry