Losing Judgment, Gaining Bliss
We all come from very different places – different countries, religions, families. We are all unique with individualized beliefs and values. Certainly we are environmentally conditioned as children, but as we grow and learn, our thoughts change and develop into opinions. Eventually, as adults, we become one-of-a-kind beings with the ability to live blissfully.
So … what is stopping us?
A new study has revealed that only 25 percent of Americans consider themselves emotionally healthy. What is at the root of our unhappiness, and how can we turn this around?
A crucial piece of the puzzle, according to ancient and modern wisdom, is our incessant need to make negative judgments about others. We are all guilty of it, and it often begins from a young age and quickly becomes habitual.
One of my favorite quotes is from a lesson in the book, “A Course In Miracles.” The words are, “Today I will judge nothing that occurs.” The concept is simple, but implementing this proves to be challenging for people around the globe. We judge eachother’s cultural differences, child-rearing styles, appearances and lifestyle choices, to name a few. We even judge ourselves if we feel as though we haven’t lived up to our own standards.
Do not feel alone if you are recognizing this behavior in yourself; there are very few individuals who live their lives judgment-free.
Overall, it may seem harmless to behave this way, but ask yourself, what are you truly gaining from condemning others? Some inadvertently praise their own ego by putting others down. Then there are those who have a belief system that makes them feel they are morally superior. Many times, judgments stem from one projecting their inner conflict on another. Wayne Dyer wrote, “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” Regardless of where your judgment stems from, it does not have to define who you are today.
Recognizing that you have been spending too much time judging is the first step in the process of ending the habit. Stepping outside of yourself, to examine where the judgments are coming from, is next.
I experienced my own awakening recently when I spotted a woman smoking in front of a store, in a non-smoking area. Knowing I would have to walk right by her with my young children left me annoyed and frustrated. How could she be so oblivious to a law? My immediate reaction from deep within was to walk over to her and inform her this was a non-smoking area, and make it clear that her actions were unacceptable by storming by with my children.
I quickly recognized my inner reaction as a judgment and calmed myself to the point where I was able to see this woman for who she truly is. My mind did not take into account that she was likely a kind human with a different set of beliefs and values, and perhaps she simply did not see smoking in front of the store as an issue. Certainly she did not want to offend me or harm my children. I simply walked further away so that my children were not exposed to the secondhand smoke. I continued my day with a mild sense of inner peace that I had not had beforehand.
Once I experienced this “judgment awakening,” it allowed me the ability to recognize future instances where I placed my values or beliefs on someone else or a situation. As Eckart Tolle has written, “Awareness is the greatest agent for change.” There are still times that I fall back into my old habit of negative judgment, but the most difficult walls have been torn down.
The final step, after recognition and learning the possible root of the problem, is actively seeking out ways to end the reaction when it occurs. There are many options for overcoming this challenge.
First, I believe it is vital to seek out one person with whom you can have open lines of communication to discuss such topics. Whether it be a spouse, a friend or a therapist, it is helpful to dialogue your thoughts to help you work through them. This person could also point out certain things to you that you may not see yourself.
Another important aspect is to spend time reading about the topic of judgment. There are many spiritual authors, speakers and religious texts that put into words the different methods for helping us through our internal struggles. This can be individualized as well, depending on your beliefs, and can help you grow further than you could ever imagine. Perhaps this is the catalyst to push you toward inner growth so you can have a deep sense of joy and gratitude in your life.
Lastly, I believe it is important to find or develop a carefully formatted statement, similar to a daily affirmation, to help guide you to a conscious perspective. For me, it is a Deepak Chopra quote: “It helps if you remember that we are all doing our best from our own level of consciousness.” It completely puts things into perspective for me. How could I possibly judge another human being when they are living the only way they are capable of at the present time?
Individual achievement, competition and the belief that we are separate from each other are prevalent in our society. The reality of the situation is that many of us are striving for the same thing: happiness. You can move into a state of peace and pure joy only by investing time and effort into a new way of thinking and living.
Mother Teresa’s eloquent words said it best: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” Ask yourself, how do you want to spend your time?
Heidi Oran is a freelance writer, and founder of “The Conscious Perspective,” a blog that focuses on educating readers about current events, personal growth, and holistic living. She resides outside of Toronto, Canada, on an organic hops farm with her husband and two young sons.
Photo credit: tiff_ku1