The judgement merry go round
Posted on 6th March 2019 at 08:30
It’s been a while since we’ve written about the all too human tendency to make snap judgements on whatever happens in our lives. “This is good, that is bad.” “She is nice, he is horrible.” Not forgetting the perennially favourite one: “How can she – or he (!) – go out looking like that.” And, if you think you’re above all those petty judgments, think again…
On one hand, there’s no doubt that being able to make a snap judgement is a potential life saver in an emergency situation. However, ironically, in those situations it’s not our conscious mind that calls the shots. It’s just too slow and too limited.
Instead, our subconscious mind takes over, aided by a burst of adrenaline hitting our system. Before we’ve consciously realised what’s happening our subconscious mind has assessed the situation, considered the options, made a judgement and started taking the necessary action. What’s particularly interesting is that often, with the power of hindsight, the action taken falls outside our experience – and makes no logical sense – but was just the right thing to do.
On the other hand – and for the vast majority of our lives – making a judgment on anything only does one thing. It immediately narrows our focus. The blinkers go on and we only notice things that confirm our initial judgement. Everything else is filtered out and ignored.
Now, if we’re completely honest, we’ve all had experience of this. When we suddenly – and often uncomfortably – realise that our initial impression of someone – or something – was wrong. Whether slightly off the mark or completely wrong (!). The question is then whether we’re prepared to revise our opinion…
Sadly, all too often, we’re not. The little monster in our heads manages to convince us that we’ll look stupid if we do. Ironically, exactly the opposite is the case. Not changing our opinion in the light of new – or previously unseen – facts, now that is stupid…
Once again it’s a case of semantics. It’s NEVER about being “wrong”. Or, as the little monster in our heads likes to convince us, of being stupid. It’s about having found a better – more helpful – way to assess the situation or person. It’s an improvement, a step forward. Nothing else.
Anyway, before we digress too much further, there’s another aspect of judgement making we wanted to highlight today. It’s easy to overlook but can have a huge – and often unanticipated – effect on our lives. And that’s the message we’re sending to ourselves – our subconscious – by being too quick to judge others. We’ll bet you’ve never thought of it in those terms before!
If you stop and think about it for a moment, every time you make a snap judgment, you’re sending a message to your subconscious – and the world at large – that it’s ok for others to judge you. That you’ll only be accepted by other people if you behave / speak / dress / something else in a certain way.
In other words, just as you’re only accepting others if they meet your set of conditions – whether you’re aware of them or not – other people will only accept you if you meet their conditions. The end result is that no one accepts themselves – let alone anyone else – for who they really are.
Not surprisingly, this opens the floodgates to an inner dialogue of self criticism fuelled by the little monster in your head. How you must behave / speak / dress / something else to be accepted by others. How you’re not “good enough” or a “failure” and so a downward spiral develops.
But it doesn’t stop there.
As you become more focussed on having to fit in with what you think others want or expect, then these are exactly the sort of people you’ll draw into your life. Those who are judgemental of you or have a long list of conditions to be met.
At the same time, you may also find that your friends or family seem to be less tolerant or accommodating to you as usual. Perhaps, even more judgmental…
And then, if your little monster has been particularly busy recently (!), you’ll find yourself over compensating to try and please everyone. Sadly, this is a game you’re never going to win…
So, here’s a radical thought, why not simply decide not to make snap judgements on whoever – or whatever – you encounter today? Let others be as they choose to be and events play out as they will.
Instead of rushing to make a snap decision just stop yourself. Decide to remain neutral – sit on the fence if you prefer – and wait until you have more information on which to make an informed decision. Just because someone else has said x is true, it doesn’t mean they’re right.
Or, as someone so eloquently put it, “Judgement is weakness, observation is power.”
Switching out of judgment mode and into observation mode makes life so much easier. It gives you the opportunity to actually get to know people – not just one facet of them – and to learn lots of interesting things about them. And who doesn’t like people watching?!?
Even better, you’ll find that other people appreciate you so much more for being genuinely interested in them and for letting them be as they want to be. And who doesn’t like being listened to and appreciated for who they are?
The icing on the cake is, as you start to do this for others, others will return the compliment and do it for you. Life starts to flow much more easily as you let others be as they want to be.
Finally, if you find yourself slipping back into judgement mode, here’s a quick way to snap yourself out of it. Simply ask yourself:
“Why did I judge?” AND THEN
“What benefit is there to me in judging this person or event?”
And, if there’s no benefit in it for you, why on earth are you wasting your time and energy on it?!?
As always, the choice is yours.
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