Less Judgment, More Empathy.
Often, we look at others to decide if they are worthy of our love. Instead, we should love them first. But, our mortal judgment gets in the way.
Judgment comes in many varieties. Here is a list of a few that I have heard in the past week:
- Why do they live that way?
- What are they thinking?
- Her hair is awful.
- Tattoos (or piercings) are weird.
- You are over the top.
- Look at her. She looks anorexic.
- You are always working.
- I don’t know how you do it. I could never interact with so and so.
- He does not know any better.
- He is too old for her.
- I see trouble ahead for them. They have a lot to work out.
- He did not seem to want to be there.
- She overreacted for no reason.
- Why can she not stop drinking sugary drinks?
- It is lazy to not be able to run a brush through your hair.
- Her kids are always eating.
- You could work harder.
- You go to bed too early.
Judgment is so much a part of our interactions and our thoughts that we don’t even realize it. We make snap judgments as part of being alive. Obviously, some judgment is necessary to maintain law and order — those are not the focus of this article. I trust that the difference is apparent.
Growing up, I was not allowed to talk about others in a judgmental way. Period. If I did, my mother was quick to have me imagine what might be going on in another’s life. It was always the same: he or she could be facing a terrible situation, and then I would get a ‘What If’ scenario to consider.
I always rolled my eyes. Her teaching was correct and enlightened. I learned to not be critical of others or myself. Very powerful. Letting others be and live as they chose is always a relevant lesson.
From this, I also learned to not care what others think of me. It was freeing. I thought everyone was learning not to judge me as I was learning not to judge them. Of course, I was wrong.
But, still I gained the gift of confidence as a result of my mother’s explanations about how so and so may be overreacting, or that one may be eating too much, or whatever else along those lines.
It may seem that confidence is an unexpected result of empathy. I suppose it is. Confidence is about feeling good about one’s self. Imagining the suffering or situations of others put me in touch with the fact that everyone has issues and struggles.
Through this, I learned that I am not special because I too have the same ones. I did not have to feel bad about whatever was bothering me. It was all so normal, part of the human experience. So, I was able to thrive and grow in a psychologically healthy way.
Empathy is significant for the elimination of judgment. It lets people off the hook. It gives second chances. It changes outcomes. It builds bridges. It eliminates gossip.
If we are able to walk a mile in another’s shoes or imagine the mile he walks, our understanding expands our hearts and diminishes harsh judgments. This changes the world — in small and global ways.
Empathy is a love multiplier, so let us practice more of it.
Melanie Blenis plays as often as possible. When she is not working, you can find her running in the woods or attempting a move at Crossfit. She is the mom to two 20-something guys and a gal who joined the family at 18 years of age. Melanie dreams, daily, of living near water — an ocean, a lake, anything that will hold a boat. Melanie practices ACIM. She will do almost anything for a good story! In the kitchen, it is clean eating with an occasional cheat — Melanie does not aspire to perfection. Life is meant to be fun, and happiness is a decision away.