I just needed to vent on this one because as I’m trying to grow as a person, I’m trying to overcome what I find to be some weak points of mine. Like most people I have many, but today I’m gonna talk about judgment, or more to the point, being judgmental.
In Buddhism, one of the Noble Eightfold Path is Right Views, which refers to a deep understand of the Four Noble Truths of suffering, the ability to distinguish wholesome roots from unwholesome roots( like what your causes your bad habits), and how our perceptions can create our struggles and suffering. Another of the Noble Eightfold Paths( yes there are eight), is Right Thinking, or Intention. Right thinking focuses on the speech of the mind, which is correcting perception, making the habit energy one of positive thinking and action, and delivering out words with in a helpful and deliberate manner. Now I can say most judgmental comments are deliberate but not exactly of a positive nature.
Buddhism has helped me see the root cause of my judgmental ways was insecurity, first and habit second. I think at a young age we are taught to kind of rise at the expense of others; that someone has to lose and be second place, and it shouldn’t be you. While I believe the intent is to cultivate confidence and hard-working values, I also feel a blind eye was turned on the negative component to that line of encouragement. We became a culture of defining ourselves in material accomplishments, and the judgment became a second-hand byproduct and acceptable. I was raised in it and was good at it too. I was able to share all your flaws with such ease and force, usually gaining laughter and status from the masses, that I never thought of what that kind of behavior was doing to me. I was a bully but apparently as you get older it’s just judgment, or constructive criticism, or now, a READ. (Oh yes, the library was open and I didn’t even know I still had my library card up to date).
Through meditation and Buddhist studies, I’ve come to take my struggles as an opportunity for my triumphs. I don’t enjoy giving my opinions with limited information, or based off of insecurities that still exist but just don’t overwhelm. I practice active listening( another Buddhism technique) to attempt to be as informed as possible, and ask clarifying questions to make sure if I am required to give my feedback, it is well-developed and directly based on what information is presented. I don’t rush to judgment, or conclusions; and I still ask before I share my thoughts because they are still just my thoughts. I’ve stated before, you only get enough of the information that people wants to share. If multiple people are involved, one perceptive is not enough to make an informed and helpful statement. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t enjoy being misunderstood, or down right stupid because I gave a half-assed, and under-developed reply on anything; even if it’s about the weather. Am I successful? I think I do pretty well and I continue to get better everyday.
It’s truly important to me to focus on what I can offer and do for others that will be of value. I understand people vent and my value to them is to listen without forming an opinion, or at least stating it. This is extremely difficult as most people aren’t able to trust themselves and that is the main reason they seek counsel from others. It is important to me to deliver the best of what I feel will be of use and I can’t do that with my own stuff in the way, and truth be told, we all will have our own stuff in the way. The best thing is to attempt to assist the other person in learning how to think critically about the situation, and come to an appropriate resolution on their own. I find just by the clarifying questions I ask, the other person can get a sense of where I am heading with my thoughts and maybe how they can use those questions to firm their position, or even switch positions.
My answer to a judgmental way is to stop a moment. Listen to your thoughts and evaluate their purpose. If you see a positive outcome, for them not for you, then continue to stop and breath, thinking about delivery. I would also ask yourself if it is necessary that your internal thoughts, i.e. opinions, need to be shared at all. What gets people in trouble more often that not is the unsolicited comments. If someone is asking for your thoughts, one would hope they are prepared for the answer that follows; but I’m increasingly taking the position that even still, it’s not for me to share or decide your life, thoughts or actions. Co-sign a loan, but don’t co-sign someone’s thoughts and behaviors. Allow them to grow as you have grown with experiences that shapes them, and a mind to interpret those experiences thoroughly and with care. That is the kind of conversation and active listening you want to have with your loved ones. If it’s something so simple as a guy wearing a pair of pants that are showing all his assets, or a hair style that could have stayed in the 80, why does it offend you so much you must comment. Usually I find most are too cowardly to say something directly to the offending party, so why waste your thoughts on uttering it to your associates; and for what, a laugh? Rent a comedy.
In the end, my struggle with judgment isn’t mine alone. My success in overcoming it will be. My hope is I will be able, when requested, to share my process out of the darkness with those ready and willing to learn.