Don’t Let Yourself Be the Judge.

Via on Aug 26, 2011
Women gossiping statue
Source: Dano

“Never look down on anybody unless you’re helping them up.” ~Jesse Jackson

Do you judge people? Criticize them? Are there people in your life who you belittle behind their backs or even silently to yourself? Is it hard for you to accept people for being different from you and love them regardless? Do you sometimes even blame these people for making you feel a certain negative way towards them?

Oddly enough, these questions remind me of my first day in college. I started the University of South Carolina in August of 2000, immediately after finishing high school in a small town outside the city. I was ready to meet new people and ready to make new friends. Looking back on the years that followed, however, I realize that I didn’t really know how to do that.

By my second day on campus, I managed to collect all the information necessary to begin finding these new people and making these new friends. All I needed to do was buy a few new sundresses, pair them with some cute heels, and show up on Sorority Row at 10 a.m. the following Saturday. It was my duty as a Southern Belle to pledge a reputable sorority and, darn it, I was going to rush around collecting the perfect outfits in anticipation of the perfect Rush.

Rush Week came and went and I ended up pledging Tri-Delta. The details of the week were a blur by the end of it, and they remain blurry today. What I do clearly remember, however, are the remaining Rush Weeks of my sophomore, junior, and senior years. I remember the selection process. I remember looking at photos of Rushees before meeting them and making comments about how they looked. I remember reading résumés and comparing their choices of extracurricular activities with what I thought were “cool” things to do. We spent hours upon hours criticizing these girls as if we were entitled to do so. As if we were so much more important. Why did we think those three Greek letters made us better than everyone else?

Looking back on all of this, I have but one conclusion. We did not yet possess the self-acceptance necessary to be accepting of others. I know for a fact that I did not. What is surprising to me, however, is that I was in a room with over one hundred sorority sisters who, in my opinion, did not either.

So I now wonder: why was this? Why did so many women ages 18-22 not yet possess enough self-acceptance to be all-accepting? We all came from different types of families with differing belief systems. Some of us may have been verbally abused, physically abused, or even sexually abused. Still others may have had a simply “normal” upbringing.

Though there were probably hundreds of differences in the ways that we were raised, there was, and still is, one commonality. Our society does not encourage acceptance. Instead, if often promotes its exact opposite: judgment and criticism.

Anjali Mudra/NamasteWe grow up observing other people as they play sports, star in movies, and appear in the last decade’s worth of “reality” television. We now spend hours each day peeking into the lives of other people by way of the internet and its various social platforms. And what do most of us do after watching all these people doing all these different things? We criticize them, put them down, and say things that not only hinder acceptance but diminish our own self-acceptance as well. We even support a multi-billion dollar celebrity sleaze industry that does nothing but pick people apart with bad journalism.

Since life on Sorority Row, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking about self-worth, self-esteem, and self-love. I’ve learned that there is no way for me to love myself without loving the world around me, regardless of how conditioned I had become to being critical and judgmental. Why would anyone love and accept me unless I’m constantly willing to give them these things in return? If I don’t love and accept myself, then why should anyone else love and accept me either?

There is nothing powerful about being judgmental. Non-acceptance, critical judgment, and trash talk will no more bring joy into our lives than does the knife it sticks into the backs of others. All we are doing is mastering the art of hatred, which not only shows up in our relationships with loved ones, but also reflects back to us each time we look in the mirror. Self-love cannot exist without self-acceptance, and self-acceptance cannot thrive without being all-accepting.

Loving yourself begins with you. It isn’t up to anyone else to do it for you. By letting go of judgment, embracing compassion, and practicing equanimity, you will begin to approach a calming sense of serenity towards yourself and your outlook on others. This is the place where love is formed and the place where it will continue to reside. Once it’s there, it will not go away. You just have to remember to keep paying it a visit when your old conditioned self gets the best of you.

To get started, write down a few sentences that you can recite upon waking or when you feel yourself slipping back towards your previously negative self. Make it a mantra. Mine is: I am a happy, healthy, loving woman. It reminds me to be kind, compassionate and full of love always.

And what could possibly be more acceptable than being full of love always?


About Ellen Smoak

Ellen Smoak was called a “true change agent” by New York Times bestselling author Marci Shimoff and her work has been featured on ABC, NBC, Yahoo, and FOX. Her mission is to help you realize the power within you to create the life you want and the love you deserve. Ellen’s #1 bestselling book "Breakups Are A Bitch, But Getting Over It Doesn't Have To Be!" has been read in over 27 countries and her online courses have transformed thousands of lives around the world. A South Carolina native who spent her twenties in San Diego, Ellen combines her East Coast sensibility with her West Coast to inspire a global audience to take charge of their happiness by teaching them how to access their power, boost their confidence, and increase their self-love -- the three ingredients that Ellen believes will make it possible for you to get anything and anyone you want. To get Ellen's free video series "How to Beat Your Broken Heart BEFORE it Beats YOU" click here.


9 Responses to “Don’t Let Yourself Be the Judge.”

  1. yogiclarebear says:

    Loved this Ellen, just posted to the Elephant Spirituality Facebook page. Great article, and personal story as well.

  2. Joe Sparks says:

    Nice article Ellen! We all begin our recovery and re-emergence afraid of each other. We have been conditioned to fear anyone who is " different." We can learn to love and trust each other, but we must begin with an attitude of RESPECT, of complete respect for every human being in the world. The love and trust can come later.

  3. Great article, Ellen! Just posted to the main elephant facebook page. Cheers!

  4. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    I absolutely loved this. Thank you very much for sharing and nice to meet you!

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
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    • Ellen Smoak says:

      Thank you Tanya! I loved writing it, although I have to admit I got a little angry while writing just thinking about how awful the sorority selection process was. I have been talking about it so much since then. Thanks for having me. I submitted again to Colleen and will be doing so each week. Take care!

  5. […] help someone improve, clear the air about a hurt, you are on the right track. If you are looking to unleash your thoughts on every flaw someone has for the sole purpose of getting it out or making yourself feel better, […]

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