Give Up Judging Others to Free Yourself
Last week my preschooler started her second year at a fabulous little school in our town.
The first few days of school we showed up at the school right on time, and I couldn’t figure out why the teachers weren’t there to welcome the kids into the school.
(Our school policy says you have to let the teachers escort the kids from the car for safety)
So we waited and waited and finally seven long minutes later, right at 8:30am, the teachers emerged and took the kids into the school.
This happened several days in a row, and finally I had just had enough.
Our drop off time started at 8:15am dang it, so why were they making us wait so long? What had happened to the efficiency I liked so much about this school?
I was texting with another mom about setting up a carpool, and she said that her son’s drop time was 8:30-8:45. I was bemoaning the fact that we had the earlier time so we wouldn’t be able to drive together.
Her reply,”The earliest time is 8:30-8:45.” Say What??
That was when I realized that as I sat there for all of those mornings angrily waiting for the teachers to come out, judging them for their lack of efficiency and putting together a scathing email in my mind to the school director about my busy schedule and how they were creating problems for me each day, that I WAS WRONG! Gasp!
The teachers were performing exactly as the were supposed to, but in my judgement of the school, the teachers, and even the director I was getting worked up to a huge level of upset. Not because of reality, but because of my supposed ‘rightness’ and their ‘wrongness’.
I do this a lot. I see just one tiny part of a situation and then judge the heck out of it, not seeing the entire picture. When you judge others you aren’t seeing the reality of a situation or the other person.
What we see outside of ourselves is always interpreted through a cloudy lens based on our own limited life experience. How can I possibly understand your motivations without asking you?
How can I possibly pretend to know what your intent is without asking you?
And even further, unless I am actually IN YOUR SHOES, I have no way of knowing what life experiences have brought you to this moment to behave the way you are behaving.
How arrogant of me to assume I have the answers and know your WHY, when most of the time I can’t even figure out my WHY.
This experience was an Aha moment for me about withholding judgement and giving others the benefit of the doubt.
At the very least, it taught me to reserve an opinion until all of the facts are gathered.
But even then, to what benefit is it judge? All it does is create a separation between me and the person or thing I am judging because of the negativity I am feeling.
Judging our Kids or Spouse
Don’t we do this every day with our kids, or our spouse?
Almost before they can even speak we ‘know’ what they are going to say, ‘know’ what they should do, and judge them to be right or wrong.
For heavens’ sakes, we need to give them a chance to BE without stomping all over them.
When people try to change, do we let them?
Or do we judge them for past behaviors, anticipating what will happen next, and then watch for validation that we are right?
We act as though it is certain that they will mess up ‘again’. And who says they even ‘messed up’ in the first place?
The Parable of the Empty Gas Tank
My parents live in Hawaii and automobile gas is very pricey so they only fill up at Costco where prices are reasonable. Costco has limited hours and sometimes when they need gas it will be closed and they’ll have to come back later-but it’s about a 20 minute drive to Costco from their home.
My Dad drove my mom’s car (a yellow convertible mustang she LOVES) one day and got home late at night. The next morning my mom came out and saw that her car was almost out of gas-risky to make it all the way to town to fuel up.
She told me in that moment she had two choices.
CHOICE #1 She could see the empty gas gauge and think,”How selfish of him! Why doesn’t he ever think of me? Doesn’t he care that he’s now taken off for the day in his truck and I am stuck here with no gas?” This tirade could go on for a looooong time (trust me, I’ve been on the other end of the phone during some of these venting sessions and they are not short) with the end result of her judging my father and labeling him some pretty choice adjectives.
CHOICE #2 She could see the empty gas gauge and think,”Oh, Costco must have been closed last night, so he couldn’t get gas.” Then use the spare gas can in the garage to get enough gas in the tank to drive to town and fill up. No judgement passed, no negative feelings.
Judging damages not only the person being judged, but especially the one doing the judging. In many situations the people being judged are not even impacted by the judgement. But the negative feelings created within the Judge has long lasting effects on the judges feelings towards the other person.
I choose the ‘Costco must have been closed’ response to life. Since all judgement starts with a story in our mind, let’s make it a good one.
Start Today-Give up your job as Judge and Jury
How would it feel to let everyone else manage their own lives, and for me to manage mine?
To keep my thoughts for others positive by giving them the benefit of the doubt, understanding that I have no idea what they ‘should’ be doing with their lives.
I can only control my own actions and work on controlling my thoughts (thoughts are harder to control than actions, that’s for sure)
My goal this week? Stop being the judge and jury and just let everybody, me included, be human, flaws and all. I feel free already.
A fantastic article about how to Stop Judging can be found here.