Did you see what she did?
I can’t believe he said that?
On and on it goes, that little voice inside passing judgement on others, their choices and behaviours, what they think, feel and say. We act like we know better and somehow we have the upper hand. It’s a very self-righteous way to behave and mostly very unattractive.
But we all do it. Well ok there may be the odd saint who doesn’t, but all us ordinary folks down here on earth trying to get through this thing called life we do it, right?
Maybe you are happy in your indignation and perceptions about what is right and true, you can happily cling onto being correct.
I am right, they are WRONG!!!!!
If that’s the case don’t bother reading any further you are a lost cause, someone who will perpetuate the ills which currently befall our human interactions on earth. An attitude of being RIGHT stops us learning, stops us being open and it also stops us understanding who we are and who you are, at a deeper and more personal level.
What is judgement?
The dictionary defines it as: the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, especially in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion.
It sounds quite good, doesn’t it? I could certainly hide behind that meaning. I can convince myself that I am acting objectively and wisely justifying my judgements of others. After all I hear myself say, “They don’t know any better,” or I utter some other platitude for my own unpleasant way of being towards another soul.
Today I chose to follow a meditation by Tara Brach entitled Heart Meditation: Letting Go of Judgement. A part of me didn’t want to do it. I’ve done it before and I know that it asks me to look deeper into myself, under the judgement, to what lies below, and in so doing I will have to let go a little and perhaps also feel something uncomfortable that the judgement neatly covers up.
The thing is, if we want change in our lives we have to do the work.
It doesn’t just happen, we have to engage with the process and go through stuff to get there. I am willing to do this because experience has taught me about the emotional freedom I can feel on the other side, and I want more of it.
I spent far to much of my life unhappy with who I was and how I behaved in the world. I don’t like being judgmental and I know it’s not good for my health or my wellbeing. My intention is to be a more loving, accepting person, to spread kindness, care and compassion, it’s what I believe the world needs and it has to begin with me.
If we are brave enough to look below the surface, our immediate reactions to situations and people, we will often find something much more tender and vulnerable, a place that may be hurting, scared, powerless, overwhelmed or some other painful emotion.
These are the feelings that need our attention. This is the place Rumi talks about when he says:
“Keep your eye on the wounded place,
That’s where the light enters.”
When we cover up our wounds with judgment, anger, self-rightousness and indignation there is no place for the light to shine, we will remain in the shadow of those unhelpful and often destructive emotions. We may act them out causing others pain, and we may feel guilty and ashamed in the process, or worse still, pile yet another layer on top by justifying our behaviour again and again.
Underneath this morning’s judgement I found fear and powerlessness so you can see why I would rather feel “right”. There is someone in my life who I am worried about, I have been judging their choices and condemning them, but the truth is I am scared about what their behaviour might mean and I feel powerless to change the situation. I know they must learn through their own choices and they must face the consequences of those actions, but it is hard for me to watch.
I haven’t been given these feelings enough space. Instead I jumped on my high horse and judged them instead. They should be listening to me because I know better. This is very destructive for our relationship.
Today this meditation taught me to turn towards my pain with a tenderness I do not often have towards myself, to hold my vulnerability lightly and tend to it. In so doing I could let the light in.
My light reminds me that I may not be correct, there are greater forces at work in the Universe than I, that someone’s else’s path may be exactly as it needs to be even although it looks hard to me. I am reminded that this person is probably scared themselves, that they more than likely beat themselves up far harder than I could ever do, that what they need is love, not fear around them. So:
What judging and critical attitude towards another could you explore?
What feelings lie beneath?
What vulnerability are you covering up?
Can you let the light in?
If you struggle to do this alone, I know I have, I would be honoured to help. We can make the world a better place by starting with ourselves, by working together to explore our wounds. By learning to be vulnerable, we can heal theses painful places.
If this is a journey you would like to begin give me call, I am happy to offer you a free chat to explore what the issues are and to see if we could work together to solve them.
You do not need to suffer alone.