February 15, 2014

I Know You Are But What Am I? Judgment vs. Observation.

greta garbo

Judging Others Can Make Us Sick in the Head. And Body.

We all do it. Simply look at someone and make a judgment about him. And then we do it again when we get to know the person. And even if we manage to get past our judgments and get to love him.

So why is judgment such a bad thing?

Judgment comes from unconstructive comparison and negative emotion—observation doesn’t.

Humans are meant to observe and to judge; it’s how we establish safe boundaries and develop (hopefully) wise decision-making abilities amongst other things. We learn from early in life to trust or not to trust based on our evolving observations. As a toddler, the teapot is hot is an observation, that can and will if experienced, save us from future pain and physical discomfort.

Physical pain is distinct from negative emotion. The former is felt in the body though instigated in the brain; the latter, though possibly also felt in the body—upset stomach, headache, hip pain (mine!)—is felt in the mind and, like physical pain, is instigated in the brain. Whether physical or psychological, both can manifest in dis-ease in the body.

What does this have to do with judging others?

Since judgments are negative in nature, we carry and contain that negativity in our bodies manifesting in all manner of illness, from mild depression to more serious stuff, and simple downright ickiness feeling!

Have you ever noticed how joyful people appear more vibrant than the Negative Nellies of the world?

Aside from the constant forehead frowning causing furrowing (and premature wrinkles), a whole host of other aging and illness and even lacklustre laziness are commonly linked to a pessimistic outlook.

Though the Photo-Shopped world we live in might beg to differ—actually, they don’t need to beg at all, there are enough desperate people buying in to this impossible and unrealistic beauty ‘ideal’—aging, in and of itself, is nothing more than an observable fact of the life. Only our judgments of (the vanity insanity physical effects) of aging make it undesirable. This is just one area where we compare ourselves with and judge others.

We also often project our judgments in these and many other ways: wealthy (greedy), beautiful (vain), homeless (lazy), famous (egotistical), hipster (conformist), hippy (rebellious), working mom (selfish), stay-at-home mom (dependent), feminist (angry), traditionalist (weak), volunteer (fake), anyone/everyone (insert negative judgment here.)

The interesting thing is that none of those descriptors are definite. We make up in our minds what we perceive. The examples used are some of what I’ve experienced either in myself (recently or in the past), or observed in others’ judgments. A wealthy person isn’t automatically greedy and a stereotypically beautiful woman isn’t necessarily vain etc.

So why do we do judge?

We judge when:

  1. We wouldn’t tolerate the perceived quality or behaviour in ourselves. A mild example would be when we judge someone for seemingly always being late. This was me judging a friend recently. (Being prompt is important to me.) My judgment was that she considered her time more important than mine. Regardless of the fact it only happened twice, and whether or not this trait is actually accurate doesn’t matter. My negative emotion made us both feel bad because I spoke up about it while in judgment and not from a place of curious observation. (My bad.)
  2. We have three fingers pointing back at us, as in we’re the ones who have the unattractive quality and we don’t like it (often unconsciously) but it’s easier to point our perfectly unpolished fingernail at someone else displaying the offensive trait. Another example is a discussion I had with a friend about a political topic. We discussed it at length and though I thought I understood his point, I couldn’t agree. My friend felt I didn’t really understand him. The projection: he didn’t really understand me. (By the way, disagreement doesn’t equal rejection!)
  3. We are envious and/or resentful of what ‘they’ have that we don’t and likely that we think we want. (Pretty sure this one is mostly subconscious!) What the other person has/is triggers us to feel inadequate in some way. When we are unaware that this comes from within us it can become automatic to judge rather than be inspired to improve or change our own situation.

Removing judgment doesn’t mean we give up our preferences. Removing judgment does help us give up the idea of an ideal person, whether it’s us or someone else.

We have an unhealthy habit of expecting others to be our perceived Perfect Us when we’re not even the Perfect Us! Talk about a way to be constantly disappointed. Oy.

Giving up judgment means giving up the icky feelings associated with this zapping emotion. Anything and anyone that triggers negativity within us is an opportunity to get curious about ourself. Observation allows us to look inward to find the insight we need to make new, uplifting decisions, even if the decision is simply to change our thinking, not necessarily to agree, but to accept our differences lovingly.

After all, it would be mundane if we were all exactly the same. Let’s observe, respect and accept our diversity—even as we make our own informed decisions and perhaps even inspire others through our compassionate vibrancy. And this so feels three-fingers better!

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Editor: Bryonie Wise

Photo: Wiki Commons




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