So, I have a confession to make. I’m judgemental.
It pains me to say it, but it’s true. And I feel like I have been in denial for a long time.
As a friend, a writer, and as someone who has spent their 20’s and 30’s immersed in the ‘self-improvement’ culture that is ever-present in our society, I have always prided myself on how ‘open-minded’ and ‘non-judgemental’ I am. In fact, I have always considered empathy and compassion to be some of my most positive attributes. I strive to be an open ear, a safe place where friends and loved ones can share whatever is on their minds without fear of criticism or disapproval. And although I feel as though this is still true – I am empathetic, compassionate, and open-minded … it is also true that I can be a judgmental dickhead.
Women love judgement. We think we don’t, but we do. I cannot count the number of times I have shaken my head in disgust at a woman judging another woman, so entrenched in my own self-righteousness that I have been completely oblivious that I am doing the exact. same. thing.
“Ugh, she is being sooo judgemental.“
But here is the deal, as annoying and catty as judgement is, it is actually very normal, stemming back to the dawn of time when we were dependent on our group or village for survival. The desire for everyone to stay ‘in line’ and do/be like the general collective is a primitive desire. When someone strays from what we consider the norm or represents something unfamiliar to us, we feel afraid and we judge.
We judge other people. We judge religions and lifestyles. And, much more often than we realize, we judge ourselves.
What has become apparent to me lately, and why I decided to write this blog, is that I have realized that it doesn’t matter whether I am judging someone’s clothing or hairstyle, their parenting choices, or their political beliefs, my judgements have very little to do with the person I am critical of … and everything to do with me. I have noticed a pattern – the more dissatisfied or unhappy I am with something in my own life, the more judgemental I am of others. And likewise, when I am content and at ease in my own skin, I am able to view others through a lens of compassion, empathy, and understanding, even if I disagree with them.
Judgement highlights a wound that I am avoiding or even unaware of. It allows me to take the focus off of myself, tells me that I’m not doing ‘that bad’, and allows me to feel better about whatever is going on in my life.
Now that being said, we are allowed to disagree with people and we are allowed to have boundaries. But I have found that when I am in alignment in my own life, I can offer people grace, whether we share the same opinions and values or not. I can walk away from a conversation without laying in bed for the next week and a half stewing about all of the ways that I am right and they are wrong.
About a month ago, I found myself engaging in ridiculous debates and conversations. Now, a healthy debate can be a good thing. It can be stimulating, and provide new ways of looking at things … but these were not healthy conversations. They consisted of me talking ‘at’ the other person, trying to convince them how much ‘righter’ I am, and if they could only see how right I am, they would quickly realize what an idiot they were.
Pretty reasonable, yes?
No. Of course not. And when I actually sat down and gave it some thought, I was able to see that I really didn’t care that much about the matter at hand at all. I was, quite simply, frustrated. I was tired, depressed, missing my kids, and anxious. And, rather than face that overwhelming pile of baggage, I turned my focus outwards and lashed out at people who didn’t think like me. What should have been a brief interaction and respectful exchange of thoughts and opinions, turned into me stewing in a pit of indignation for an embarrassing amount of time.
So what gives? How do we deal? Well, for me, I had to start with offering myself the same grace that I should have been giving my debate opponents. This is a stressful time, we are fatigued, and sadly, there is no end in sight. We need to be just as gentle with ourselves as we are with others. And now, when I feel a twinge of judgement pop up, I pause, and ask myself ‘What is really going on here?’, ‘What about this is triggering me to react?‘ and ‘How can I respond in a more healthy way?’
We might be judgey by nature, but we can choose compassion. We can disagree with someone’s viewpoint, while also offering them grace. We can have boundaries, and empathy, all at the same time.
It’s not always going to be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be. But I am committed to trying.
PS. If you have a mullet, I’m probably judging you a little bit. (I’m working on it though).