According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, judgement is defined as: a proposition stating something believed or asserted; a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion; or the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing. Capitalize the word and it takes on the power of Divine authority.
Yes. We judge others, just as we ‘exercise’ judgement when making choices for our own lives.
Spoken or unspoken, we discern, assess, and form opinions of others and situations, anchored to our own belief systems and experiences, often without regard for the belief systems and experiences of those we project our judgements onto.
Sometimes these ‘opinions’ are positive or perhaps even void of judgement altogether, though often enough they are not. Consider for a moment: how many times do you associate the word ‘judgement’ with a positive sentiment? When we ‘compliment’ another, it’s positive; when we ‘judge’, it conjures up a different feeling altogether – both for the judge and those being judged.
Judgement – whether of ourselves or others – is usually birthed from a place of fear, not love; from a place of reaction, not responsiveness; or perhaps even from a place of deep lacking within ourselves.
Whether cloaked in the disguise of well-meaning albeit unsolicited advice, idle gossip, venting, or outright confrontation, it is often easier to judge, criticize, and blame others because they do not share our ideals, values and/or interests than it is to look at our own selves and shortcomings. Instead of respectful disagreement or simple acceptance, we judge as if we own the Truth, and yet how could we possibly assume to know what it is to walk in the shoes of others? How could we possibly know what stories they have lived or tell themselves that shape the choices they make every day?
When we judge our own selves without mercy, holding ourselves up to impossible ideals of perfection, we not only hurt and devalue ourselves, but often project our pain on to others, too.
Perhaps there is a better way.
Perhaps there is a way to build bridges instead of walls, for judgement always isolates us from others. Add a pinch of understanding, a heady dose of compassion and a dollop of love, and you’ve created a recipe for peace and acceptance, paving the way to authentic forgiveness, too. Ensure there are solid boundaries in place for good measure, and our respect for our selves and others grows immeasurably.
Do you struggle with judgement, and if so, what form does it take? When you feel unfairly judged by others, how do you respond? What role do boundaries play when we feel judged or criticized by others? How do you differentiate between constructive criticism or coaching and judgement? What role does compassion, understanding, love and forgiveness play in finding peace with those we both judge and are judged by?
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