Judgment – a powerful word with many connotations. As such, there is much that can be written on this topic, and this blog will only scratch the surface of one aspect of it…but hopefully it gets you thinking about the ways in which you pass judgment and how it may be impacting you and those around you. Let’s face it, we pass judgment regularly on people, ideas, places, clothing, food, music, words, tangible objects…yep, pretty much everything. She’s pretty, that’s ugly, he’s successful, that’s pointless, she’s too fat, he’s too tall, they are too selfish, that’s dumb…the potential examples are endless. But why?
Why do we do continually make such judgment statements? Often we are simply trying to qualify how we feel about someone or something, but it is done in such a way that we, intentionally or unintentionally, place a value on or take value away from that person or thing. In passing judgment we are in essence saying that person, place or thing is either good/bad or right/wrong. But where is it written that those things are good/bad or right/wrong? Religiously-rooted beliefs aside, so many of the things we judge ourselves and each other on are arbitrarily assigned…they aren’t written anywhere…they are things our society has taught us to believe are signs of greatness, achievement, success and beauty (or their opposites).
I would suggest we change our paradigm and our vocabulary. Instead of saying something is good/bad or right/wrong, try expressing how it resonates with you in a specific manner. Be descriptive, but in such a way that you are not judging it. For example, if I try a new food that someone has prepared for me and I do not care for the taste of it, instead of saying something very general and judgmental like, “Yuck, that tastes awful” (or something to that effect), try stating what specifically is not to your liking such as “It is spicier than I care for.” It may not seem like a huge difference but what you have done is gone from judging the food, and in some cases the person who made the food, to sharing your personal taste preferences. The person who made the food would likely be offended or hurt by the “Yuck, that tastes awful” comment, but would probably be understanding of your personal preference for non-spicy foods. The latter is a statement about you and your choices, not about the food or the person who made it. Big difference…big impact.
I recently listened to a podcast where I was introduced to the 20 Gunas. (Here’s a crash course for those not familiar: In Ayurveda there are 20 Gunas or ten pairs of opposite qualities (ex. – heavy/light, hot/cold, smooth/rough, hard/soft, etc.) Guna is Sanskrit for attribute or quality.) One way to combat our tendency to pass judgment is to learn to use different vocabulary, such as the 20 Gunas of Ayurveda, to describe our experience with something. Again, it takes the focus away from passing judgment on the person or thing and simply identifies how things resonate with you personally. Less attacking in nature and more descriptive. Whether you look to Ayurveda’s 20 Gunas for examples or not, changing your vocabulary and thus the judgment aspect of your statements removes the other person’s need to feel like they have to become defensive, which in turn creates a much more positive environment/exchange for all.
Don’t get me wrong, changing your paradigm and vocabulary as it relates to any topic is not easy, especially when it is something we have been conditioned to know, believe, or do throughout our lives. One of the reasons I am writing this is to help solidify these concepts in my own mind…trying to make them become more of a natural state of thought as opposed to something I have to consciously watch out for and remind myself. As with anything, it is a practice. But if we just take notice to the things we say and slowly work toward rewording our judgment statements, I do believe we can rewire our thinking to be more factual-based and compassionate and less opinion-based and judgmental…so our statements are more about ourselves and our experiences and less about others and what we perceive their experiences to be. Try it out and be your own judge.