All Rise for the Honorable Judge
We treat judges with respect, we pride ourselves with being good judges of character. Judging and judgment it seems, is held as a virtue, as a valuable profession to be embraced.
However, living in judgment is actually carrying quite a severe sentence. We know not to judge a book by its cover and understand the implication of the reflective nature of the judging gesture, and yet, we are consumed by it. We judge left and right, we seem to look at life and our surroundings through the lens of a harsh critic.
But what is it that appeals to us so much with judging so harshly? What is the addictive nature of falling into judgment? If you are willing to pay attention, you’d find that there’s a hidden sense of satisfaction, of finding fault and thus exonerating ourselves, looking away from our own issues and our own personal challenges.
Judgment implies disconnection. A strong sense of you and I. I, here, am judging you, there. I need this space between us to disconnect, further myself from you. From a distance, I can see and evaluate you. But on a deeper level, a disconnection between the mind and the heart. The mind rationalizes, finds fault, explains and articulates yet the heart is craving connection. The throat is but an instrument, it carries out the messages coming from the point of origin – meaning, where we choose to situate ourselves. If we are found in the mind, the throat will carry and speak of blame, shame, and bring about guilt. If we are rested in the heart, the expression would be of appreciation, understanding, and elevation.
If we examine our process of judgment, we’ll see it’s nothing more than a defense mechanism, an escape. An energetic motion of withdrawal. We feel burdened by looking inwards as it can be an exhausting endeavor. We choose, literally, a way out. We put our attention outwards, elsewhere, and in so doing, the other becomes more “real”, more – “problematic”. However, the great irony is that there are no outs or ins. What you see without, is what you are within. Our “challenging” friend is just pointing out what would have to be… our way in. What we are calling in as our medicine and form of healing.
Is anything I see outside of me a call for healing? A self-reflective fault? No… judgment is different than discernment. Judgment is an externalization of an inner battle where discernment is a reflection of an inner knowing. A compassionate gesture and a call for action. However, everything we see is a call for love. Either inwards or outwards, a cry for connection.
So… one might ask, what is the way out? How do I stop judging? How do I shift from the mind and into the heart? – first -- don’t judge your judgments. Because doing so will perpetuate the judgmental process, a vicious cycle of judging self and other. Judging ourselves for judging others who made us judge ourselves for judging them… rinse and repeat. The way out from judging others is understanding you actually probably don’t understand...
When you see a person in a wheelchair at the door of a restaurant you happily open the door for them, you don’t think you’re too great or special for doing so. You’re not judging them for having to open the door… it’s obvious and you easily do it. The only reason it is so easy and you think nothing of it, is because you actually SEE their wheelchair. You SEE their disability.
When we judge others and find faults in their actions or behaviors, we just don’t SEE their disability, and we are blinded to our own. The question to ask is – why? what is the cause, what’s underneath, why are they behaving in this way? And then, once these questions are asked, we find a place of softness, of curiosity, of genuine care. A loving place out of which we seek connection, compassion, and ultimately – understanding.
When I find myself spiraling in the process of judgment, I take a deep breath in, hold it and exhale with a new intention. I pause. I wait. I ask myself – what is it that I’m needing right now? What is so challenging that is pushing me outwards, why my heart is closing and my mind is taking hold. I choose, consciously, to let go of the gripping mind and drop softly back into my heart. And when I say consciously it means with effort, with choice, with active alertness, with the audacity to defy gravity and choose something else. Choose empowering words, empowering thoughts, empowering expressions. We are, after all, co-creators and the architects of our dreams.
Healing requires the collective involvement. One of my teachers says we either all heal or no one heals. It definitely rings true when concerning judgment. We need to inspire each other, but definitely always start with ourselves. Be the first to let it go, to drop the stories, and return to the heart. Choose your freedom and don’t settle for the gravity of darkness.