I love the dynamics of people! I love how different people’s minds work. I love trying to understand why certain people feel and behave certain ways. However, I do not like how people judge. Judgment is something innately human-we all do it. We judge others and we judge ourselves.
“Our judgments are frequently wrong and they’re waaayyyyy too often negative. How do these judgments, especially the negative ones, serve us? They don’t! They enslave us, as though these judgments are the smart ones and we work for them. But, it turns out that these judgments are filled with prejudices, based upon things we don’t fully understand. Many are based on hang-ups and past experiences that don’t speak to the open-minded individuals that we want to be.”*
The ability to be aware of this judgment and stop ourselves when we are doing it, is quite a skill to master. It’s possible though, with practice! Aside from human instinct, why do we judge when we can’t understand something? Why are humans so ignorant sometimes?
The most common reasons why we judge are jealousy, intolerance, prejudice, greed. Huh, these are not very attractive traits that all people have and are capable of. We are an interesting creature and our children are little versions of us. Maybe it’s time to give them an opportunity to become more open-minded, compassionate, kind and less judgmental than us. Absolutely it is! We better start teaching them then…
Most people judge themselves and others when they are afraid. Fear of danger drives us to find some form of coping tool in almost every situation we are faced with. Fight, flight or freeze. If there is something or someone that we don’t really understand, we naturally feel threatened by this and we have to figure out why this is the way it is or why someone else is the way they are. There are some people who could care less about how others feel, but most people really just want to get along with others and be liked or loved.
We process everything around us with all our senses-every situation, every environment and every person, judgment is part of this. When confronting a person that we don’t understand or a person that endangers our belief system, (mindset, values, social norms, etc.) we process by trying to find a way to understand this and them with thoughts and feelings. Unfortunately, we judge.
“Taking a nonjudgmental stance puts us in control of our mind. It’s part of our mindfulness practice that allows us to view our thoughts objectively – not judging – just noticing. What this practice does is it trains us to control impulsivity and the downfalls of impulsive actions based upon our emotions – which stem from our thoughts.”*
So…processing leads to thoughts and feelings, which leads to impulsive actions. Being nonjudgmental is stopping to breathe mindfully, notice our surroundings, AND THEN responding. Instead of using judgment, we need to replace it with something else. Two of the core fundamentals of mindfulness- compassion and kindness are need here. These bring a positive outcome every time, instead of a negative and impulsive reaction.
It’s so difficult to have compassion and kindness for someone that hates us though isn’t it? Yes! Is hating them back or judging them really making things any better though? No! Replacing judgment with compassion and kindness reminds us that this person is probably scared TOO and is trying to understand US. Even if they continue to be hateful to us, showing them compassion and kindness makes us feel better about our response and essentially makes us feel happier.
It’s nice to think that eventually this way of thinking will catch on and spread through the world. Particularly with regards to our kids. They aspire to be just like us, and if we can practice these simple tools of being mindful** with them, we may just create a more caring world for them.
Tracy Bryan is a self-published author for kids aged 2-11. She writes whimsical picture books about emotions, self-esteem, mindfulness and mental health. Tracy also likes to tackle social issues and speak directly to her readers about important topics that affect everyone.
**“Being mindful means that we suspend judgment for a time, set aside our immediate goals for the future, and take in the present moment as it is rather than as we would like it to be.” ― Mark Williams, The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness