I know we have all felt the sting of judgment and criticism. It is something said or implied that makes you feel like you just aren’t quite enough and you want to shrink and hide because the pain of that is so deep. I’ve experienced not only judgment of me personally, but the sting of judgment of my children as well. That takes to an entirely different level of pain and suffering. Experienced often enough, we begin to question our value. Who are we? Are we less worthy than everyone else? It is through that filtered lens we create an entire way of being and surviving that supports the idea that we aren’t quite enough. This leads to numbing behaviors like excessive drinking, excessive exercise, eating or not eating, cutting and many other unhealthy lifestyle choices. Sometimes it leads to us trying harder to fit in. Interestingly, these very feelings of not measuring up are created by external events or people. When we turn our power over to those events or people, we are making a choice. Rather than defend our truth, we allow these devastating ideas to permeate our entire existence. We lick our wounds and respond in unkind ways to the people making us feel judged and dishonor ourselves by not respecting our mental, physical and spiritual bodies. Judgment creates isolation and loneliness. It creates depression. Judgment encourages behavior that we normally would be ashamed of because we are wounded and respond like a cornered animal sometimes often hurting people that we love in the process.
I have personally been on the giving and receiving end of judgment. It felt painful and created feelings that I wasn’t good enough which then created a desire to hurt the person judging me. I regret the things I said or implied in those instances, because being a decent human being, I never want someone to feel less than. Prior to my spiritual journey, I would stoop right down to the lowest level to get even, or make the offending party feel as bad as I was feeling. I wanted to win.
For many years now, I have focused on improving one aspect of myself a year. I have worked on compassion, forgiveness, love, and acceptance. This year the buzz word was judgment. I didn’t realize how judgmental I was until I started paying attention! I would look at a fat person, a person in Walmart, someone attending a sporting event, or someone driving a Maserati and instantly think I knew what that person was about. I knew their income status. I knew their world view. At the end of the day, I was judging people not knowing their personal story at all. I was looking at something external thinking it was the true definition of who they were and I’m sure I was dead wrong. This created an awareness for me of how often we respond to our environment and the people in it based on incorrect assumptions or coming from a place of our own insecurities. Maybe we aren’t showing compassion to someone who is going through a hard time because we are just so damn happy we aren’t the ones suffering.
Once I had an awareness around what I was doing, I tried to see people as human beings rather than placing them into a category. We seem to like placing people neatly into categories like successful, gay, straight, hipster or whatever. We love to put people into boxes because that’s how we create order and make sense of things. What I’ve found however, is there is so much more to the story. I’ve been mindful of treating every human encounter as an honor. I treat everyone as I would like to be treated from the clerk at the register to a very wealthy individual. I don’t know why, but strangers love to talk to me. They tell me their entire life story whether I’m in the grocery aisle or on a plane or having a repair done at my home. Through these encounters I was able to see that humanity is the thread that holds us all together. We are all at the core the same, no more no less. We have all been born into this life as a perfect and whole human being and that is who we remain still, despite the stories we tell ourselves. We all have survived something difficult in our lives from love to heart break. We all create varying degrees of protective armor around our hearts based on our life experiences.
It’s important that we create an awareness around who we are and why we think and behave the way we do. What is the story we have been telling ourselves that is not true? For me it was believing that I wasn’t good enough, that my dreams didn’t matter. Life for me was about drinking the conformity Kool aid and judging the people who weren’t hitting the mark. What mark was it? I can’t even remember, but I know for sure I probably wasn’t hitting it either! Let’s show ourselves and others a little compassion today. Let’s be mindful of our thoughts and what is driving those thoughts. Just for today, let’s allow people to be who they need to be because we are all just trying to do our best. Life is hard enough without adding judgment to the mix. We are all enough, we are all going to be OK, we are all exactly where we need to be right now on our journey of life. Let’s make a conscious decision to show kindness and mercy towards one another. Meet people where they are, and more importantly allow your truth to rise to the surface so you can be the full expression of the authentic person you are.