If I’m feeling critical and judgmental about someone, it means I’m in a lousy state of mind. My thinking and perceptions are imbalanced. I am not seeing things clearly and with perspective.
Critical judgments and the feelings they bring – constriction, anger, indignation – are indicators that our thinking has gone astray, that we are not grounded.
Of course, it doesn’t look that way.
Our judgments always look justified and based on facts, rather than skewed perception. From our lousy state of mind, we project lousy motives. People’s actions look intentional.
But our imbalanced feelings do not lie. They tell us what’s really going on, which is that we’ve lost our bearings.
When our psyche self-corrects (which it always does naturally), a more balanced perspective will come in, and we will see things with more wisdom and perspective. We will remember people are generally doing the best they can, based on the thinking they have in the moment. We will see the bigger picture and thus respond more effectively.
Of course, our judgments are inevitable. They arise in our mind unbidden, sometimes with such speed and ferocity we can’t help but respond.
In every relationship, we fall in and out of judgment on a continual basis. We can’t control it.
But we can understand it. We can understand what judgments mean, what they are telling us.
The question is: how do we understand judgments when they arise in our mind? Do we mistakenly believe our judgments are true and accurate? Or do we understand they are errant thoughts, a sign that we’re projecting imbalance onto others?
The former understanding – which is widespread today – leads inexorably to conflict. Since judgment arises from a skewed subjectivity, it is, by nature, divisive.
The latter understanding creates an opening for our innate wisdom to restore us to balance, love, and humility. Such understanding gives the psyche what it needs to restore us to connectedness.
I am, of course, aware there are people whose actions are indeed worthy of condemnation: people who hurt innocents, commit atrocities, betray our humanity. Are we to just ignore this?
Of course not. But if we ourselves are blinded by judgment, we compromise our ability to respond effectively. Any form of righteous certainty tells us we have lost our way, that we would do well to pause and allow space for wisdom to point us to a more enduring justice.