* Recognizing your Judge

It can sometimes be tricky recognizing our own judge. When we see a situation our mind tends to leap ahead to interpret and evaluate what’s going on. Its part of being human. Our brain automatically sifts and filters information and comes to a quick conclusion. This is helpful when we are facing danger, but in every day life it can cause miscommunication and conflict.

seeing clearly

One way to recognize our judge (or someone else’s) is to look out for exaggeration or blanket statements. Can you see the difference between these statements?

“He is always late” rather than “This is the second time I’ve been waiting for 20 minutes.”

“One day you’ll fall and hurt yourself” rather than “I’m fearful that you will fall and hurt yourself.”

“She never does what I want” rather than “On the last 3 occasions I have done what she wanted to do.”

“You have no clue about what matters” rather than “I have a different point of view about what matters”

“You work too much” rather than “You’ve been working 12 hour days all week. I’m worried its too much.”

It happens more times than we may even be aware of!

Take a moment and consider … are you noticing or are you judging?

When we are able to experience what is happening – without judgment or getting triggered, we stay present.

When we simply observe, we let go of judgment and are open, rather than closed.

When we are open we can learn and grow.

The next time you find yourself in an interaction look out for your judging self. When you notice it, become the observer and ask yourself, what can I learn from this?

43 responses to “* Recognizing your Judge

  1. I wonder Val, if the act of judging has been given an awfully bad press in recent years, particularly in popular psychology. I hear people routinely condemning others for ‘being judgemental’, and yet, as you say, the process is “part of being human.” If I make a judgement, I don’t at the same time have to believe that judgement is infallible; it can just be a working model that suffices until I have more information. Some of the examples you provide are, I would say, exaggerations based on what may well be reasonable observations, so are you saying that extrapolating unreasonably from a reasonable observation is a judgement? Perhaps it is, although I tend to think of the act of being judgemental as incorporating either a moral/ethical dimension, or some totally unsubstantiated appraisal. H ❤

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    • Thank you Hariod for your input and question ❤️ My thoughts were stimulated from work done in NVC – Non Violent Communication, where we often don’t realize we make negative evaluations and exaggerations. Its like the hidden or unconscious side of judging. Its one facet rather than embracing judging in a broader moral or ethical sense.

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      • Val, I really enjoyed the examples you gave in this piece. They really brought the point home, because I felt the frustration in my inner voice as I read the “judgy” ones. I found it hard to read them without sensing that edge want to come out and do it’s dismissive work…

        I hope you won’t mind my following up here, but Hariod’s insight about whether a judgment is merely an extrapolation vs having an ethical/moral dimension got me thinking. And I came to the conclusion that, for myself, the judgments I most wish to avoid are the judgments that dismiss other beings as known, and failed in some way, commodities.

        I think we forget that judgment is an act of stating what is so. And given we respond to our own projected realities all the time, judgments become a sort of self-reinforcing evidence that mask the true nature of what is arising. So, we lose so much when we judge… We lose the ability to recognize the depth and beauty of one another… Nevermind it’s not a “good” thing to be doing. That it’s not polite, or that it’s insensitive. It’s the simple connection to goodness that we lose when we tell ourselves we know the worth or the limits of another. We frame them in cages without even realizing it…

        Michael

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        • Thank you Michael for adding this perspective. Judging has so many aspects that come from our background and culture; what’s acceptable and what isn’t; the projected realities; the beliefs that are hidden in our unconscious … All come from our conditioning, our thinking and our ego. It is a tool to keep us safe. Whether its from getting burned, or feeling less compared with others, it is all the same.
          Bringing compassionate awareness – without judgment is key to evolving into the spiritual beings we wish to be. Val xo

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  2. Amazing what a change of a couple of words can do!
    I try to recognize when I’m overexercising my judgment, meaning whether I am using it for good as in determining safety etc..or am I using it as unsolicited opinion, gossip, or criticism. I find I am judgmental when I’m taking something personally, and then I remind myself it’s not about me.

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    • Thank you Suz for adding to the conversation. Judging is such a big topic … I like your differentiation between making judgments for safety and unsolicited opinions to feel better about ourselves. xo

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  3. Thank you Hariod for your input and question 🙂 My thoughts were stimulated from work done in NVC – Non Violent Communication, where we often don’t realize we make negative evaluations and exaggerations. Its like the hidden or unconscious side of judging. Its one facet rather than embracing judging in a broader moral or ethical sense.

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  4. For me, Val, it’s a kind of exaggerated perception. I think often in perceptions like these there is no real contemplative distance or space, a standing back, to, as you say, truly observe and discern before expressing our experience of any given situation. I always remember Thomas Merton speaking of keeping a contemplative distance from all that we experience in order to perceive and express as much of the truth as possible. Thanks for a challenging post.

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  5. Hi Val…I have this debate with a friend of mine at least once a week! One of us will say something and I say, “Oh…that was judgmental” and she says “No, that was just an observation.” I suppose it all depends on where you are coming from. Either one of us could argue our point of view to a stranger and we could both probably get them to agree. Heck…sometimes she argues her point and I find myself agreeing!! But then I think I only do that to ease my conscience. No…I try every day (sometimes not so successfully) to not judge…and that feels better to me! Love this post. Have a super week! ❤

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    • Sometimes I do wonder if judging is in the eye of the beholder Lorrie!
      Your conversation reminds me of one I have often with my mother. I tell her she is being judgmental and her response is that she is just expressing her opinion. I then point out that an unasked for opinion in the negative is a judgement. She then replies that I am too sensitive. And I say yes, I am a sensitive person and wouldn’t want to be insensitive .. 😉

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      • I’m really laughing right now, Val. I know this conversation!! Honestly, some people get really annoyed with me so I try to keep MY opinion that THEY are WRONG to myself! Haha
        As we are all at different places in the journey the hardest part for me sometimes is to not preach what I have found to be truth!!
        Lots of love to you!

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  6. Thanks, Val. It’s good to be reminded about the words we choose to say in a given situation. I tend to make judgmental statements, which I shouldn’t. Thanks for the reminder to be mindful!

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  7. The biggest observation I have discovered of myself and others (as I have been judgemental of the years) is that when I notice someone being very judgemental, it is often because they are very judgemental and hard on themselves. Infact, the pressures and judgement they place on themselves is only because they feel inadequate deep within.

    So when I hear someone speaking judgemental words towards others I can now feel compassion for their deep pain and seem to understand them. Its not nice to hear of course but perhaps these people just need a big hug and told they are good enough! 🙂 Great post Val.

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  8. I appreciate this aspect Karen, and can’t agree more. Those who are judgmental are hardest on themselves. When they reach a place of compassion towards others, the greatest hurdle becomes real compassion and acceptance of themselves.
    I recall my journey to overcome judging of others, and then the years coming to terms with how I judged myself for judging others so much. That was the toughest part! 😉
    Until we connect to the loving life energy within us, and recognize the goodness in everyone – including ourselves, the inner struggle will continue, and hence the reflex act of judging.
    There really is so much here to unravel, and explore!

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  9. When I think of a “judge” it is a person who is supposed to look at all sides and then make a judgment. Too often, we only look at our one side, usually from the ego, and pronounce judgment. I think this is what you meant, right? Suggesting we look a bit closer without the heavy hand of ego chiming in and tilting perspective. Great thought-provoking post!

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    • Yes Eliza. I like to bring new awareness to the unconscious and the impact of ego on our thoughts and behavior. Here I’m referring to the “defending myself” judge, rather than the one seeking justice for all. Thank you so much for joining in 🙂

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  10. It’s much easier and quicker to throw out these blanket statements than expressing one’s more nuanced observations. Sometimes still guilty as charged, but been working on this for quite a while 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too Tiny. It does take a lot of time and coming back to awareness.
      Thinks …. Isn’t it funny how the phrase “guilty as charged” comes up! We can be hard on ourselves even in jest. 😉

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  11. An aspect of mindfulness often overlooked is precision of speech. As in your examples above we often exaggerate in our spoken word or thought and thereby judge. We can avoid this by taking care over wht we say. How often do we misuse words such as ‘always’or ‘everyone’, instead of ‘sometimes’ and ‘some peope’ or other more accurate words? 🙂

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    • You hit the nail on the head Robert. I love your examples. I also think of how many times I might say “them”… There can be a lot hiding unawares. Thank you for this perspective!

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  12. I’ve been working on this with my boss. I speak in very general terms and he is a defensive person that likes to use specifics to “justify” – so I’ve had to learn how to use specifics when I speak so that I don’t put him on edge, and change the wording of my sentences! He’s been going through a really rough patch for the last several months, so I’ve had to become very aware of my speech with speaking with him, and it is very eye opening when I am being present in my speech!

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  13. From my perspective, there is a significant divide between judging people and observing them (with alert curiosity), even when we draw a few innocent inferences from our observations.

    If I see X eat a piece of chocolate cake, I might assume that X enjoys both chocolate and cake, at least on occasion. That’s an observation with a dollop of speculation, not a judgment. I am not assessing X’s moral character. I’m just noting one aspect of X’s life based on my observations ~ and I understand that I might be incorrect.

    * Maybe X hates chocolate cake and is eating it for its medicinal properties.
    * Or maybe T paid X to eat it for the commercial they are shooting.
    * Or maybe R double-dog-dared X to take a bite. Or . . .

    If I see X eat a piece of chocolate cake, and conclude that X doesn’t care about the world around him or her because the chocolate being eaten is made by Hershey and everyone knows that Hershey exploits child labor in collecting cocoa beans in third world countries and . . .

    That extrapolation is a judgment, not an observation.

    I am judging X as a morally bankrupt person without ascertaining if X even knows the origin of the chocolate in question. 😛

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  14. Interesting post. I have a friend who I have to be very careful what I say to as innocent (observation) comments that would normally be considered reasonable (by others) are easily taken as criticism. It can become difficult drawing the line in wanting to reach out to her but drawing back for fear of her interpreting things in a different way than intended.

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