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.)
I took these pictures. I made this stuff with my own two hands. I wrote these words. It's just a bunch of craziness, but it's what in this noggin. If you're going to use any of my stuff for your own stuff, just ask me. (I'm sure I'll say yes. I'm nice like that.) And a little linkie love never hurt anyone if you know what I'm sayin;)