I am always spouting out positive quotes and statements about going beyond tolerance and into acceptance and fellowship. But what happens when I find myself making a harsh judgment about someone else? Now, I am the one who suddenly holds me in higher regard than the person I am casting aspersion over.
What do I do? I do not want to be a judgmental person.
The situation occurred while I was writing at a neighborhood Starbucks. A young woman entered and stood in line to place her order. I noticed that she was dressed too warmly for the weather. When I looked at her sneakers, I realized that she had very hairy legs. Hairy legs on a woman?! Gross!! And that is when the judgment came in. My brain told me that this woman should get a razor and gel and shave those legs so that she could be more acceptable in society. My brain asked me how this person would want to have such unkempt legs and disregard about her appearance. What my brain failed to mention was why it was treating this woman in the same way that I worry people treat me as a crossdressing man.
As all of these thoughts ran through my head, it never occurred to me that the young woman was a feeling person just like everyone else. It was only later that my heart spoke up and asked why I was acting like all of the judgmental people I have come across. The realization of what I had done – and how easily and quickly its skewed rationale had enveloped me – was sobering. I was no better than all of those people that I judged for being so intolerant to me (see? I did it again.).
It is so very easy to drift into a place where your opinions, beliefs, and position are held in a higher regard than someone else. Just because I couldn’t understand why a woman would choose NOT to keep her legs shaved was no reason to decide that she was flawed or unworthy of my compassion as a person. If you find yourself in the seat of judgment, it is because we are only human. What is important is that we did not cause the other party harm. What is important is that we realized our actions and can reflect on why we had the reaction in the first place. We can always strive to be better people.
Why do we pass judgment onto others? An article from www.PositivelyPresent.com outlines 4 reasons why we judge others:
- We are insecure about ourselves, so we put others down in order to raise our self-esteem.
- We are scared or intimidated about others, fearing those who are different.
- We are lonely and look for stereotypical traits that we believe will allow us to bond with people.
- We are seeking change in our own lives, leading to the quick judgment of others who have achieved their own change ahead of us.
According to the same article, there are 6 ways to stop judging others. Feel free to read the article in its entirely for all of the details:
- Monitor your thoughts and reflect on why you react the way you do.
- Look for the positive, ignoring the negative thoughts that lead quickly to judgment of others
- Avoid stereotyping others, as generalizations of a group of peoples keep you from truing “seeing” the individual.
- Stop judging yourself so harshly that you project that self-criticism onto others.
- Focus on your own life so that encounters with others hold little time to “rent space in your head”.
- Remember how it feels to be judged and have empathy for those you are about to judge in the same way.
Remember – Do unto others, as you would have others to do unto you.