do you judge?

As hard as the answer may be to hear, I reckon the answer is 'yes'.

Pretty much all of us judge.

We judge others and we judge ourselves too.

Here's the thing. Each of us lives according to our own personal list; a list of ideals, a list of what's right and wrong, a list of shoulds and shouldn'ts, a list of personal and internal morals and beliefs.

And your list and my list will never be the same, just as you and I are not the same. There may be similar or the same things on our list but, overall, they'll differ because they're unique to us.

So when someone does something, says something, or acts in a way that does not conform to your list, you'll judge them. Because by them doing, saying, or acting in that way, they're making you feel uncomfortable and, when we have a list we live by (and we all do), it keeps us safely in our personal comfort zone. Anything outside of that comfort zone raises questions and, by judging, we're trying to rationalise the discomfort we're feeling, and seeing where that person's words, looks, actions fit into our list, if at all.

But what if we all had the same list? What if we all spoke, lived, behaved according to the exact same list? Do you think that would benefit us? Do you think that we could learn and grow?

Of course not. If we all behaved the same, acted the same, talked the same, thought the same, dressed the same, looked the same, sounded the same, believed the same, there would be no room for growth, no room for improvement, on an individual or collective (species) basis.

So I don't, personally, believe that judgment is a bad thing or a wrong thing, when it is used to help (our own) personal growth. To look inward and become a better person, then I feel judgment is something that can be beneficial. Because that's when "judgment" turns into "awareness" and becomes more about sense, experience, intelligence, wisdom.

The challenge comes when you are judging someone according to your list and assuming that your list is right; everything is written in black and white. Therein lies the challenge. Because by judging someone in this way you are condemning their list and seeing yourself as the better person. But are you? By judging them in this way you are heading down the road of conviction, opinion, chastisement, condemnation, scrutiny.

When we talk about judgment, we tend to refer to the latter example where we judge and then condemn because the action, word or thought does not fit into our own personal list.

What if we approached it in a more open and loving way?

What if, before we judged someone, we stepped into their shoes and walked the life they're living? If we did and made it as far as they already have, then do you think you might better understand their list and just how strong they are? Might you learn something and, even, alter your own list (ie grow) as a result?

Judging through awareness opens us up to growth. Judging through condemnation closes us down and keeps us small.

Next time your mind races off to judgingly condemn someone because of their outward appearance, their religion or beliefs, the words they use, how they live... next time, flip it, and ask yourself why this awareness has come to the forefront of your mind; what is it teaching you, what can you learn from it, how can you become a better person as a result?

Viv xx