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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Judging Others is Damaging to All

From religious teachings, great literature, and even popular music; the message of the value of not judging others is asserted.

• Judge not, that ye be not judged. ~ Matthew 7:1
• Time will change and even reverse many of your present opinions. Refrain, therefore, awhile from setting yourself up as judge of the highest matters. ~ Plato
• If a man looks after the faults of others, and is always inclined to be offended, his own passions will grow, and he is far from the destructions of passions. ~ The Dharmapada (a collection of the Buddha’s essential teachings).
• Our senses don’t deceive us: our judgment does. ~ Goethe
• I know I’m not perfect
And I don’t live to be
But before you start pointing fingers
Make sure your hands are clean ~ Bob Marley

However, human nature seems to be determined to criticize and judge each other – to some degree – on many different parameters. Personal appearance, including weight and attractiveness; intelligence and education; individual values, beliefs, and spiritual practices; occupations and professional success; and wealth are all arenas inviting negative judgments of others. It appears that the task of accepting people as they are is just incredibly difficult. Our culture is conflict-ridden and often there is an attitude focused on “one-up man ship” or winning. As we live we slowly develop biases or pre-conceived notions about people with whom we interact.

When criticism and judgment are negative it can lead to great hurt, and damage. People react to criticism and judgment in different ways. Some become fearful, and close down emotionally to protect. Some develop feelings of inadequacy; while others become angry, and strike others with the venom of judgment and rejection. Everyone as some fear of being judged rejected or abandoned. No one really likes to be judged and so eliminating this from our own actions will improve your life and relationships.

Living a life filled with judgments and criticisms of others are as hurtful to oneself as they are to the target of judgment. Those who judge others often also judge themselves in very painful and damaging ways. People who feel good about themselves can more easily see the good in others. Self-acceptance and practicing kindness towards the self encourages tolerance. It is known that acceptance of the self and others is important is overall mental health and general happiness.

We analyze and make decisions about living based on individual values and beliefs that are developed through learning and personal experience. Having confidence and clarity about values and decisions is not only natural, it is valuable and important - – imposing those convictions on others betrays an attitude of arrogance. Assigning a moral code to another disrespects alternative perspectives. As soon as you judge someone you are saying that you are better or worse than that person.

There is a difference between being clear and confident of personal values for ourselves and imposing those onto others. It is important to delineate between making judgments based on belief or value systems which makes them opinions – and when we are actually stating fact. Most of the time, judgments come from a place of opinion. We can still have an opinion, but not condemn others for having a different opinion. Everyone sees things differently and when opinions are expressed in a way that demands agreement, and is judgmental; there is a lack of respect of alternative views. While we can verbalize and share opinion – even forcefully – it is important to acknowledge that others can believe differently.

Being judgmental and critical becomes habit over time. Finding ways to be loving and accepting can replace old ways and become a new habit. If we decide to be as non-judgmental as possible about people then we can really transform our personality. It is a difficult process but making sincere attempts to do so is very powerful.

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