Wednesday, July 29, 2009

early morning thoughts on judgmental-ness:)

blueberry goodness

I walked into my gym and the words, “Judgment Free Zone” were all over the place. I was wondering to myself about the possibility of judgment not existing in a place. While it’s a great prospect, I have come to the conclusion that it is an impossibility.

I might be jumping in too deep here, too soon. Let me wade out into the water with you for a minute. I had always considered myself a non-judgmental kind of person. You know, accepting of others and full of love for people in general. In the past few years, however, I have been struggling with the accusation that in reality, I am not that way. I have been told straight out in some cases, and in others, people have taken a more passive-aggressive approach of letting me know that I have judged them harshly.

So, I’m easy going. Except when I’m not.

I’m open minded. Except when I am not.

I’m a loving individual. Except when I’m not.

(I could go on and on.)

I have spent the past few years defending myself in these cases. Telling myself how the situation really is, and explaining to others why my behavior is such. But at some time or another, the pointing finger always ends up pointing right back at myself and it makes me think long and hard.

It can be humbling, this thing called life.

As humans, we are required to make judgments daily. We judge what is safe and what is not and we act on these judgments. It is an important aspect to survival. We are judging small and large situations and some involve people and others do not. (“turn right so you don’t hit that tree.” “Put your foot out so you don’t fall.” “Don’t believe him or your heart will hurt.” “Put distance in this relationship for your emotional health.”) Not all of these judgments are well thought out—in fact, most of them are probably instincts. At best, subconscious actions.

So what of “judging” an individual? Morally, it seems that by all accounts, it is wrong to judge others, whether you are “religious” or “spiritual” or don’t believe in a higher power. (No matter what you believe, you don’t want to be judged by others about it.) So where is the line? You know, the line between judging for survival or protection of yourself, and being “judgmental”?

I have, in my musings, come up with a theory that the people who feel like they are being judged harshly are merely putting the judgment upon themselves. I’ll give you an example from my own little insignificant self: sometimes when I see a mom feeding her children organic healthy vegetables and foods that do not contain dyes or partially hydrogenated oils, I have felt judged.

I realize now that is a ridiculous thing. She is not imposing upon me; she is not forcing me to be more like her, in fact, most times I feed my children in a very healthy manner. But I can see where I lack. So I feel guilt as I see this other mom doing something that I should be better at and feel judgment. But I see how this judgment is my own, taken upon myself.

My daughter had a friend over one day for a play date and I was making cookies for them (and I’ll admit it—it was probably a lot for me, I was most likely craving cookies—that’s a safe assumption to make considering I crave cookies 24/7). When the dough was ready, my kids and I got spoons full and the guest said to us, “Oh, no thank you, I’m not allowed to eat cookie dough.” “Oh, that’s sad. Why aren’t you allowed to eat cookie dough?” “It has raw eggs in it. It’s bad for you.”

Uh-Oh, I feel the judgment coming on! Wait, Brittany. Check yourself. Her mother wasn’t trying to make you live without cookie dough, she was making a judgment call for herself and her family—trying to keep them healthy. And when the mom came to pick up the girl, we talked lightly about “the incident” and the mother (who most likely felt judged by me) began defending her decision to not eat things that contain raw eggs.

It happens in the most innocent situations!

It happens so much that it can tear relationships apart.

The thing that confuses me is that in order proclaim that someone else is judgmental, aren’t you judging them? Isn’t that considered hypocrisy? Isn’t it madness, this whole judgmental thing? Can’t we all just get along? Why is it so hard to admit that we make mistakes? ALL of us—not individuals pointing the finger away from ourselves, but everyone pointing towards their own chest.

“Yes, I make mistakes.”

“I hurt that individual. I didn’t do it intentionally, but my action caused pain.”

We do the best we can. We make judgments based on our experience. How else can we? We cannot be expected to understand something we don’t know anything about. (That seems obvious. Except when it is not.)

I was having a discussion with my sister about this and she was trying to give me examples, turn the tables, if you will. She started making statements about my situation that I knew she didn’t believe, yet just the statements alone affected me physically. “You’re so lucky you were on bed rest for three months of your pregnancy. It would be so great to just lie around.” My heart started thumping. She was saying more incredulous things, but my head was swimming and I couldn’t even listen to them. I waved my hands and shook my head in defeat as I was trying to stop the nausea in its tracks. I didn’t quite get it then because it affected me so physically, but now I can appreciate the thought that anyone who has these thoughts that repulse me because of my experience, doesn’t know any better. How can they if they haven’t had a difficult pregnancy (or been very close to someone who has)?

“Judgment Free” is a good ideal—don’t be mean about stuff you don’t understand to people you don’t know—is what the meaning might imply. But in reality, judgment is part of every day life, whether we like it or not.

Pluck, pluck, pluck. We aren’t even thinking about judging the blueberries. Pluck, pluck, pluck. But in a fraction of a second, we have decided which ones are ready for consumption. “Too squishy.” “Too green.” “Blue enough, firm enough.” Pluck.

(The blueberries are not offended. They do not tell you that you’re being judgmental. Thank goodness for the reprieve of the blueberries.)


Rachie Maslowski said...

Wow, very good insight - Now you've got me thinking in a very healthy way! I love the little bit about the blueberries at the end you are very good! Thanks for makeing me think on this :)

Chris said...

So reading this post made me feel that I needed to get my judgements about you, Mrs. Britt off my chest... you are an amazing artist, an amazing mom, a beautiful person inside and out, Mrs. Britt you are just an extrodinary person and I am a better person for knowing you!! Keep up the good work sister!

Oh, and I miss seeing you terribly!!!

Jessa said...

I love a girl with powerful thoughts!

Meg said...

This is such a powerful post. Thank you for sharing it. Truly.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. Very well thought out indeed. I am inspired by your profound words and enlightened as well.

Thank you.

Kyle said...

I think it's human nature to be judgmental and we are all guilty of it at times. The people that we label as "judgmental" are letting people know their judgments rather than keeping them to themselves. I believe this behavior is something that can and should be controlled in most situations. I couldn't agree more that there are also times we judge ourselves based on other people's actions. Self-awareness is all we can hope for, I'm guessing.

Lucky Candice said...

Judgemental is not a nice thing to call someone. I would rather say that you are expressive about your beliefs and that you are willing to stand up for what you believe in, even when speaking to someone who doesn't believe the same way. I know you pretty good (don't I??) and I don't think you're judgemental. I like that you speak your mind.

Miss you!!


Wendy said...

Oh, the little friend is missing out on some really great cookie dough...and cake batter. Mmmm...I wish we lived close, Chad makes cookies every week and I would always share some with you.

I'm like you, I see myself as non-judgmental, but I'm realizing more and more lately how judgmental I can be. I need to work on that.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brittany,

I read your blog yesterday and found that I was very insightful. Because today I was "judgemental" and it really bothered me that I was that way. Your blog made me think - who the heck do I think I am to judge this person so harshly.

Thanks for your great insight. It helped me tremndously today.

the wrath of khandrea said...

i feel exactly the same way. word for word.

there's nothing else i can say that you haven't already said here. well-written.

Vanessa said...

I actually have been thinking about this all day long and now just read your post and will stay up thinking some more :) I just really believe that deep down even when it is hard to admit you know personally in your heart if you are being "judgemental" in the bad sense. With those you love, new people you meet, even with yourself.

Mikael said...

I feel I becoming more judgemental as I get older. I realized this yesterday. I even judge my own husband! And like you said, I totally judge people who complain about a singleton pregnancy or say I am so lucky to ''bla bla bla..." I understand!
Thank you for this post. We are all human and have to work on this everyday. I have started my journey to work on this yesterday :)

A-Kap said...

Such a great post in so many ways. Insightful, thoughtful, thought-provoking and just plain good things to think about. Thanks for sharing my friend. Good stuff.

Wild Roaming One (WRO) said...

I'm not sure how I got here to your blog, but I"m glad I did.

There are so many things that, as a mother (let alone just a plain ol human being), I worry about not teaching and modeling to my daughter in an appropriate and respectful way, like judging. Your words made me think today...thank you.

Wild Roaming Woman (WRO)

Dallas and Krista said...

I had to take a deep breath after reading this. A few things. #1 Dallas' business partner always says this great thing, "We want people to judge us by our intentions, but then we judge others by their actions." Isn't that so very true? #2 I can't wait to talk to you about this and know the nooks and crannies of where this came from. #3 I just read The Shack and there was this fabulous chapter on judgement. I would go as far as to say that I think it has changed me for life. You should read it :) Loves to you.