I have always considered myself a compassionate person who loves her family and friends unconditionally. Well, maybe not completely without conditions. Because despite my best efforts to overlook little imperfections, I’ve recently come to the realization I am guilty of Judging in the First Degree.
As is often the case all over the world, I am most judgmental of the people who are physically and emotionally closest to me: My husband and adult children. (Just for the record, I never criticize or judge my grandchildren or grandpuppy. They’re perfect).
However, my judging doesn’t end with people I know and love. People I barely know and like also fall under my watchful eye, as well as perfect strangers and public figures. I am clearly an equal opportunity critic.
Some of this criticism likely originates with my occupation as a real estate agent. Whenever I walk into a possible new listing, I automatically begin speculating on what needs to be changed, repaired or simply moved around before the property can come onto the market. My comments in such a situation aren’t meant as personal criticism and are usually received by audience eager to inhale in all the information they can in order to command the highest possible price for their most important investment.
But when all of that highly-detailed professional scrutiny crosses over into your personal life, the outcome is rarely as positive. Not long ago, I wrote about a childhood that set me on a lifelong course as The Fixer of all things. So, what do you do when everything is going alright? Sometimes you start judging others and identifying new problems to fix.
The obvious problem with judging others, of course, is that most of the things I harp about are none of my business. I have no right to question the cleanliness of people’s kitchens and bathrooms. Nor do I need to express my opinion about how anyone else is choosing to live.
Judging the behavior of others has become a national pastime via social media and reality television. Joking about the weight gain of a female actress or the hair loss of hair of an aging rocker isn’t very clever. It’s just mean. We demand so much from the ones we love and even more from those we pay to entertain us.
Recently, a women’s magazine mentioned that a popular female comedienne wore plus size clothing. It turns out this wasn’t true and the women in question issued a statement that she was not a plus-size lady with such speed and intensity you would have thought she had been accused of a felony.
This successful entertainer believed that a tabloid was judging her and she exploded. The irony is that when I read the story, I quickly formed a negative opinion of the magazine rather than the celebrity.
Here is what I know: You never know what someone else is dealing with. You never know what’s in someone else’s heart. We all believe we’re living the best way we can at any time. Each day we have to make choices. Some are as simple as what to make for breakfast or what to wear to work. Others are as critical as whether to have a child or end a life.
No one needs to be chastised or criticized for their choices. In his best-selling book, The One Thing You Need To Know, Marcus Buckingham suggests that if we want to be truly happy with other people, then we “must imagine the most positive explanation possible for their behavior – and believe it.”
So, if you find yourself judging a stranger, take a breath, try to imagine yourself in their place and consider what you would choose to do. If you find yourself judging someone you love, pause for a moment, suspend your negative thoughts and concentrate on all of the characteristics that make you love them.
“When you judge another, you do not define them; you really define yourself.” – Wayne Dyer