It can be challenging to navigate inner judgements that pop up and stick. Negative judgements are like Velcro whammies that stick to another person like a negative smudge. "They should know better! They always do this! They are so pushy, bossy, stubborn…" (this sentence has endless possibilities.) The problem with judging another person is that judgement creates distance and a feeling of superiority. This dynamic is felt in any relationship whether individually, on a team, or in a family. If you have a habit of judgement, take a breath and remember that habits can be changed. What could change in a relationship by letting go of inner judgements? Give it a try with these judgment busting techniques.
Same Like Me
The first tip to breaking the judgement habit is to recognize what is the same as yourself in a situation. “Same like me” is a way to remember that I have done the same thing in my own way. If I am annoyed that something is taking a long time, I think back to the last time I made someone wait. I caused a backup at the post office because I used the wrong form. Remembering this moment includes an inner groan…I did that. And in remembering this moment, I relax. I too have caused someone to wait. I too am guilty of what I am experiencing.
Using this tool is a simple method. First, identify what you are judging. They are doing (Identify Action). They are yelling at me, … Next, ask yourself, “When have I yelled…?” Remember the last time you did something similar. Relax and recognize the sameness. Return to the present moment with fresh eyes. What do you choose to focus on now? You have dropped the judgement by remembering how you too have done the same thing in your own way. The “othering” has dropped. Now you can begin again.
Focus on the Outcome
What’s your goal of the moment? Is it to educate? To build up confidence? To hold someone accountable? Drop the story of judgement and focus on what you want to walk away with. This too has a formula. I want to walk away with (outcome). How can we move forward so that we can work toward that outcome? What outcome does the other person want to walk away with? This re-orientation to focusing on a desired outcome shifts to a feeling of collaboration. “ I desire to do this quickly and move on to the next task. How fast can we accomplish this?” “I desire to maintain a culture of support. I desire to have our words communicate support for what we are trying to do.”
“Walk a mile in my shoes before you judge me. Oh wait, that is not possible. Nor is it possible for me to walk in yours. Therefore, I will not judge your actions. Yet, I can seek understanding should you cease from your attack on me. I love you in spite of the attack, but it still does not feel good, nor does it elicit my desire to commune with you. It merely pushes me to stand more firmly in my own stance on love - which I know to be beautiful. Hatred is not powerful. Come to me and ask me what I see, and I will gladly share. Ask me to consider your way and I will listen and consider it. But shoot me down for not doing things your way and you will not gain my support.” —Julieanne O’Conner
PIVOT: From Judgement to Value
Judgement is a narrow place to process. Try pivoting to a greater value to navigate. My favorites are compassion, curiosity, and faith. Those are also my top VIA Character Strength scores. Curious about yours? Take your own free test here. Look at your top 5 values. When you are encountering a time of judgement, pivot to one of your top values instead. For example, when I am judging someone as wrong, I remember the word, Spirituality. I heard a priest say, “God’s fingerprints are all over that creation that I am judging.”
Rise Above the Moment
What is a bird’s eye view of this moment? Rise above the judgement by 300 feet. What do you see? Are there other considerations that sheds new light? This gives me new eyes and ears to process what is happening. When I stop to get a bigger picture and a wider view, I relax and stop taking myself so seriously.
With my head, I want to be right. With my heart, I want to be understood. With my gut, I want us to be wise together.
“When we can step back even briefly from our hurt, sorrow, and anger, when we put our faith in the possibility of change, we create the possibility for non-judgmental inquiry that aims for healing rather than victory.” ―Sharon Salzberg, Real Love: The Art of Mindful Connection
We Are More Than Our Mistakes
When I judge, I chisel the character of the other into my mental stone. There is so much more to the person than what I think. When I remember that I am more than my mistakes, I can offer that same generosity to another. Like a camera lens zoomed in, judgement keeps the diversity of good out of the picture. Judgement focuses on what is undesirable. The truth is, we’re more than that. Widen the lens for yourself first. You are more than your faults and failings. In fact, your authenticity is free of the burden of judgement. Elizabeth K. Ross describes this falling away of our mistakes to be the same as carving marble into a statue. Michelangelo carved David and explained, “I just removed the excess stone to reveal the David within it.” We too can allow the burden of self-judgement to fall away like the excess stone, and allow our masterpiece of authenticity to be revealed. Starting with self, what are the ways I limit the inner masterpiece by negative judgement? What am I ready to put down for a greatness to be revealed? When we can do this for ourselves, we can begin to do it for others and let go of the excess judgment that isn’t needed.
Judgement can be a pesky habit that closes us off from another. Why curb the habit? Putting a person in a judgment prison closes us off from love. So, like any habit, the first step is to notice when you do it. Be kind with yourself. “Oh, there judgement!” Take a breath. Try dropping the judgement using one of these tips. What happens? Take a moment to experience the dropping of judgement. What do you feel after that moment? What is your body feeling? Where do you feel it?
Fast Track Tips:
Instead of judgement, use discernment. Discernment focuses on what the next step is given new information.
Decide rather than react. This sounds calm, cool and collected.
Instead of own view, choose another’s. View the situation from another’s perspective to gain more ideas.
How can I communicate with love and respect in this moment?
Coaching can help dissolve habits that have formed over a lifetime. You don’t have to accomplish your goal alone. Judgement can be helped to talk out. Coaching can make a plan of action that is different from what is happening today. Accountability makes the new experiences easier by having built in support. Let’s do this together.