I judge people. All the time, every day. Even subconsciously. It is something I would like to do less.
Yesterday I did an informal test. I wrote down every time I judged someone. When you do something like that and write down why you are taking certain positions, it can be pretty humbling and embarassing. And you know what? Most of the judgments I made were about myself. By definition, when you judge someone, it is often without evidence or consideration. It just shoots out, like a thought cloud in a cartoon. Here are some examples from yesterday:
“She has no business wearing something like that.” At yoga class. (Wait, aren’t you supposed to be Zen and non-judgemental there??)
“He must be some kind of idiot! He has 20 items in the express lane which clearly says 12 items or less.” At Fred Meyer.
“Shut up, you don’t know what you are talking about.” To myself, when trying to give guidance to my daughter.
“I fucked up,” To myself, when I didn’t get everything done that I wanted to get done.
Wow, pretty harsh.
Judgments go that way, they are quick and sharp. It seems to me that my brain is trying to distract me. From what? Things that are painful? Things that are hard? Things that make me anxious? Let’s take each of the above examples.
She has no business wearing something like that. This is a tough one for women, and for me. Was I commenting on my own feelings of body image? Probably. I was trying to make myself feel better about who I saw in the mirror. We are flooded with images of beauty, but I would be hard pressed to come up with my own ideal image of beauty. When I think of my own specific image of a beautiful person, and I close my eyes and let myself go there, it’s not what I see in a magazine. Today it was my mom. What?!
He must be some kind of idiot! Okay, I admit to getting in the express line on occasion when I am in a hurry. I do this often with driving too. The inexplicably seething anger which arises in me when someone cuts me off is so sudden and so fierce, it sometimes takes me by surprise. Maybe he had a really good reason to get out of Fred Meyer quickly, and maybe he didn’t. Displacing my anger on him distracted me from the fact that I probably wasn’t going to get everything done, and the time it took waiting for his order was spent ruminating on that fact.
Shut up, you don’t know what you are talking about! My ten year old daughter was asking me about friendships (a huge issue at this age for girls) and I was trying to help her with a situation that has come up at school. She asked for advice while I was in the middle of a cleaning project that I had undertaken. Having been ten and a girl, I was very qualified to help her. However, I was telling myself to be quiet. The truth is that I am very uncomfortable with my daughter being sad, and not having an easy answer to comfort her. Protecting her from pain is my job as a mom, so I think, but I can never keep her safe from all pain. That’s rough.
I fucked up. Setting unreasonably high expectations is pretty common for me. I have my lists of things I want to accomplish and very rarely do I meet all of them. Then I beat myself up for not getting it all done.
Are we seeing a trend here?
My judgments of other people are really about my own ideas, opinions and sentiments about myself. While I am a reasonably grounded and self confident person, this is unsettling to me. All this judging and reacting is taking up valuable space in my aging brain where I’d like to make room for peace and aliveness. It keeps me from really knowing you, and ultimately, myself.