Do you judge yourself often – in a negative kind of way? As in “I shouldn’t have done that” or “I look horrible” or “She’s so much more talented/patient/smart/beautiful…. than I am”
Or perhaps you may be judging others with the same kind of negativity and letting it affect your relationships. Your partner, your child, your boss maybe?
Judgment at its core is about personal attribution – attributing something negative to a person’s inherent value. And research shows that it’s one of the 3 components of pessimism and hopelessness. Which is good enough reason to want to do something about it!
I’ve found, in my own life, and in my work with clients over the years, that quite often it’s perfection that underlies this personal attribution. When we expect ourselves or others to be a certain (unrealistically infallible) way, we come down harder on ourselves and others for failing to rise up to those standards.
If you tend to judge yourself/others a little too often, it may help you to take a moment to reflect on the very nature of life. Unlike a static entity, life is like a river, always flowing, always in motion. Which means that there is no one ideal of perfection you can cling to without losing your balance. Like Einstein said “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
Life is dynamic. Moment to moment it throws us darts. Moment to moment we find a new sense of balance. Always imperfect, always imbalanced, always striving to find a better way to stay on course.
Does that really need our judgment? Or does that require our compassion, for ourselves first, but also for everyone else? Because everyone on this journey is doing their best to maintain equilibrium.
One practice that is tremendously helpful in stepping away from judgment is mindfulness. Because mindfulness is about the non-judgmental awareness of your thoughts without getting caught up in them. We cannot do away with our thoughts because thinking makes us human. But getting upset by these thoughts is our choice.
Recognize when the thoughts are taking you to the zone of judgment. And distance yourself by bringing your awareness back to your (or others) inherent goodness, and existing positive qualities. Because when you shine the light of your awareness on the good, you may even find things you never knew existed.
Try it this week and tell me how it goes!