Over the years of practicing therapy, as well as doing my own inner work, I have noticed an overlooked problem about judging others: It causes us to keep ourselves in a box.
We have all heard reasons for not to judging others: "Judge not, or you will be judged." "Judging keeps you in negative thinking." "Judging is bad karma."
What have been overlooked are the limitations we put on ourselves when we judge others. When we think toward someone, "You are doing it wrong," or some such variation, we are also setting a guideline for ourselves.
Returning to a personal story I shared in last month's post, before our son was born, I had many judgments of doctors, hospitals, and of all of western medicine's views on childbirth. When my inner guidance came that I would need to have his birth in a hospital rather than at home as we did with our first child, I felt afraid. "Something terrible must be coming", I thought to myself, "or why would God ever want me to do such a horrible thing as to have a baby in a hospital?" I came face to face with the wall of judgments I had built around the medical field.
After nearly 18 months of processing the layers of these judgments (that caused all the fear I was holding), I was able to get to the bottom line: The only thing that mattered was the safety of this soul coming into this world. When that was my goal, I was completely open to whatever way that had to happen.
After our son was born, easily and healthily in the cocoon of the hospital, I could not return to my old way of thinking. I had a new perspective on childbirth: The important thing is safety and the comfort of the one giving birth. Whatever that looks like to the individual is the right and perfect way to do it! Not only did I let every mother on the planet out of a tight and rigid box, I let myself out as well and was able to apply this lesson to other judgments I erroneously held.
We don't always know what the perfect thing is for someone else. But we do know what is right and perfect for ourselves, and sometimes that means doing something we would think someone else shouldn't be doing!
When you catch yourself having an opinion about another person or their actions, ask yourself, "How is this helpful to this person? Am I putting myself in a box by this thought?" We can free ourselves as well as others by checking in on our judgments, and leaving our options open as to what will be the right thing to do in the moment. This reminds me of a poem my husband has shared with me, written by a friend of his:
Cage, bird, liberator--
I am all three!
Think about it, and free yourself!
Lynn Barrette, LCSW Blending psychology with spirituality, I offer tools for forgiveness, acceptance, meditation and relaxation, and positive parenting solutions.