Last week I wrote about how letting go of the need to judge others increases our own peace of mind. I’d like to offer a story from one of my life experiences as an example.
A very long time ago my family and I were returning from a road trip. We stopped in an unknown town in a small coffee shop to get breakfast. It was dimly lit and we were seated in a booth that shared a wall with another booth. You could not see anyone but it was easy to hear through the latticed divider. As we sat down, and throughout our entire breakfast, I heard the nonstop voice of the man behind me in the next booth. I couldn’t make out what he was saying nor could I figure out why he was talking the entire time we were having breakfast. My judgmental nature was asking the following questions. Was he not allowing his breakfast companion to get a word in? Why did he feel the need to be talking continuously? Was he being rude?
After listening to this for at least an hour, as we got up to go I just had to take a peek to see what the heck was going on. What I saw immediately made me feel ashamed of my judgment of this man. What I saw was an older son, perhaps in his 60s, reading the newspaper to his mother who was obviously blind (special cane and glasses).
Could I have been more wrong or off-base? Did my judgment of this man define him or me? My judgment had nothing to do with him and everything to do with my choice to judge another and negatively at that. I could have attached any meaning to what was going on behind me but I chose to think something negative. What could I have chosen to think instead? I could have wondered what was going on as I had never encountered a situation like that before. I could’ve thought he was telling a story with a captive audience. I could have focused on my time with my family. The meaning I had decided to give this situation had nothing to do with reality. It wasn’t even close to the truth. How often in our lives do we make negative assumptions about others or situations that aren’t true? We make up our own meaning when we don’t know what the truth is.
Where does this negative judgment that we make up about other people come from? Why is it so automatic? It comes from our past experience, how we have been seen and judged by others and now, how we see and judge ourselves. It didn’t feel good in the past when people judged and criticized us. Now unconsciously, we continue the same criticisms and judgments of ourselves. When we are able to stop defining ourselves by our past painful experiences and stop judging ourselves negatively, we automatically extend the same kindness to others. The more we choose not to judge ourselves the easier and more automatic it becomes.
In case you missed it, there’s a little exercise on last week’s blog that talks about how to let go of judging ourselves or others. You might try experimenting with it and see what happens. What have you got to lose?
When you are tempted to judge another person be aware in your heart, of the negative feeling that results and perhaps think about choosing a kind thought instead. Because the truth is, we are all doing the best we can.
With love, Jackie