As human beings, we are hard wired to judge. But when we are judging a situation or somebody else, it's hard to remain present in the listening, or to open up to understanding the full picture.
Our brains are always scanning our environment and naturally categorising situations, circumstances or people as good or bad, scary or helpful, thoughtless or caring, crazy or logical etc. It helps us frame in a way that makes 'sense' through our own unique lens. It is in that space that our natural tendency to judge lives and is typically the result of our subconscious fears.
And while judgement can feel good for a moment, after you’re done pointing fingers, and even avoiding responsibility in your own life, you’re left with the unresolved emotions and difficulties you started with. Unease and even anxiety result from our inability to be with our pain or emotions.
Even though judgement and blame are natural human tendencies, we can learn to identify some things that drive these behaviours in order to release the hold it has on our thoughts. The gift of working toward being able to suspend judgement and remain focused on understanding the other promotes a path of peace and acceptance.
Great, tell me more! How do I suspend judgement?
1) Learn to connect with your internal dialogue — this creates awareness as to how judgement shows up. What does it sound like for you? Typically, you may start out saying innocuous things like “Why would they ever do something like that?” or “Really, again?” but it can spiral into an even more negative dialogue that can begin to impact your relationships.
2) Identify where your judgement is coming from — Identify your personal fears or beliefs behind your judgements and recognise how they’re driving your current inner dialogue. For example, you may have judgement around your friend's inability to break a pattern in her relationship with her spouse. You might think to yourself, “why can’t she get it?” or say to yourself, “I would never do that.”
As you catch your inner dialogue and explore the drivers behind your thoughts, you realise you have an agenda deep down that she simply “get it.” You realise that if she doesn’t get it that you feel like you’ve failed her—that you’re not a good friend.
Seeing that the real source of your agitation is your own personal feelings about yourself gives you the ability to shift your judgments and just let go.
3) Separate fact from fiction — When you begin to separate fact from fiction, you’re able to see how the story you tell yourself has no basis in fact.
You’re also able to see how your story is wrapped up in your own prior wounds and unresolved emotions around your personal value. And by seeing that there is no real truth to what you’re saying, you can now let go of the judgement you hold toward yourself. And then, you can breathe.
4) Find compassion and focus on actively listening — It’s ok to feel compassion for other people - it's a wonderful emotional response as a human! However, it's important that we don't get lost in someone else's stories and jump directly to judgement or overly-empathise. Instead, recognise it’s an opportunity to explore, listen and go even deeper within yourself. You can then create new connections and ignite action in yourself, and not project onto someone else.
5) Acceptance, not resistance — If you’re unable to shake the negative dialogue in your head, simply accept where you are now with your own personal thoughts. When we resist our thoughts, they tend to scream louder and interfere with more vigour. By simply accepting, it allows you to move forward and remain present which in turn opens you up to different perspectives.
6) Seek clarification — Sometimes our judgements are the result of our own misunderstanding or confusion so asking clarifying questions or seeking additional details will likely allow you to reframe, clarify and understand the situation or person in a different way.
Coming back to your inner-self, critically asking yourself how you want to show up in the world (and how you'd like to be received) can go a long way to reducing the need for judgement. The benefit is a happier, more aligned, appreciative and humble human. And I think that's just what the world needs at the moment.
If you're ready to look more deeply into judgement, I'm ready to help. If you're ready to do some inner-healing work, I'm ready to help. If you'd like to do it with a partner in crime, I'm ready to be that person for you.