I had the following realisation years ago now and it’s made an enormous impact in my life: judging others is harmful to me.
It was many years ago when I was having a conversation with my sister an afternoon. She was telling me about her current relationship and how difficult it was for her to end that relationship. She had been with the guy for about a year and she knew the relationship was going nowhere. She was miserable but at the same time she couldn’t let him go. She really struggled even with the thought of ending the relationship.
As I listened to her I thought to myself: ‘I can’t believe she can’t leave him’. That was my thought. It didn’t feel like a judgement and it didn’t even feel very harsh inside. You might think it’s an innocent enough thought but that was a judgement and that judgement came to haunt me a few years later.
I need to clarify that I love my sister to death and I try to be honest with her as much as possible. I can’t even remember now whether I expressed my thought to her out loud at the time (probably not) I was trying to be encouraging of her situation and avoid being harsh, especially when she is going through difficult times but the statement was pure judgement.
A few years later, I found myself in exactly the same situation she was when I passed that judgement. Even though our brains are amazing super machines that will forget many details in life, our brains will remember every single judgement that we’ve ever made. EVER.
The agony of being in a difficult relationship and not being able to finish it was worsened by my critical mind because of that judgement. I personally don’t think I was experiencing that as a matter of coincidence. I truly believe that this was my opportunity to learn but this of course could be argued. Yet, the fact that I had made that judgement years before would put me in a different standard in my own head. I was judging myself for not being able to accomplish what I had judged my sister for years before. I couldn’t be in that situation but I couldn’t leave. I was twice as harsh with myself for it. And the moralisation inside my head was killing me.
This is what happens when we make any judgement in life. EVERY judgement is recorded in our brains and then we create a new standard for ourselves. So if we ever find ourselves in a similar situation, we become overly critical, judgmental of ourselves and end beating ourselves up for it.
My lesson was quite practical even though the experience was hugely emotional. After this incident, I observed the same mechanism happening many times inside myself and I could confirm this theory every time. Has this ever happened to you?
My conclusion was that at least for ‘selfish’ reasons, compassionate listening and observing is much better than judging! It, not only makes us better human beings, it is less harmful to our own lives.