True freedom is freeing ourselves from judgement.
Judgement can take many forms. “It’s those Democrats that are ruining the country,” or the other side, “it’s those Republicans that are ruining the country.” “Why am I terrible at this?” “He shouldn’t have cut me off!” There are infinite other examples. We can judge constantly! We judge whether someone is right or wrong. We judge whether we like something, or whether we don’t like something. We love to feel like we are in full control of our world, and somehow assigning judgment to things or people helps us feel in control. However, usually when we pass a judgement we aren’t seeing the full picture, or reality, and that feeling of control will be fleeting.
We are seeing a lot of confusion and chaos in our world today. It’s easy to want to point a finger and say who is handling it right and who is handling it wrong. In reality we are all just trying to figure out new situations that we have never had to deal with before! Everyone is going to want to handle it differently, but ultimately we all want the same things. We want to feel safe, and we want to stay healthy, and we want that for our friends and family.
At some point, we have to decide how to take action. But what are we basing those decisions on? Is it based on our ego rather than looking for facts or from different view points? Is it based on what we would like to believe so that we can act in the way that we want to? Or are we acting based on what will benefit everyone? It’s good to get clear on what our motivations are so that we can see if we are coming from judgment, were we are seeing things from our limited perspective and preferences, or from discernment, where we can see things as they really are and not as we want them to be. Discernment is the ability to understand and comprehend something, instead of seeking to judge it first.
Letting go of judgment might feel like giving up power at times, because we love to have things our way, or to think that we understand things. However, that satisfaction when things go our way can never be a lasting feeling if we are coming from judgement and not discernment, because the flaws in our judgement will be challenged at some point. Judgment comes from a place of deciding something based on our limited perception of it, and won’t give us the full picture. Have you ever been blindfolded and asked to touch an object and try to guess what it is? We may be able to guess if it’s something we are very familiar with, but imagine we are asked to touch a hippo, something most of us have never touched. We would all have a very different idea of what it might be, based on our experiences and perceptions, until we could take the blindfold off and see it clearly. Letting go of judgement is like taking off the blindfold, and seeing things as they really are! It might mean that our initial impression or judgment was wrong, but it’s freeing and beautiful when we can finally understand and see things, and especially people, as they are.
How often do we do we judge a person, a situation, a political hot topic, or whatever it may be, without really trying to fully understand and see it for what it is? It can be so easy to make a snap judgement based on our experience, or to side with the people or side that we have always sided with. When we do that, we are keeping our blindfolds on, and almost always our judgments will be off because we aren’t looking at the full picture. Judgements might help us feel significant for a while, but it usually ends in frustration, disappointment, or regret.
Discernment comes when we are seeking the truth. We are willing to see things from multiple perspectives, and seek for understanding until we can more clearly see something, or someone for what they are. This process can take longer, but it’s where we find truth, and truth is the most freeing and beautiful thing that we can find.
I also find it very easy to judge myself and to be hard on myself. This looks like thinking “I should be farther along,” “I should have known that,” “I’m not that great at this.” or “I’m not as good as so and so at this.” It can take on many forms. This kind of thinking is so unproductive! With that energy, we could be focusing on what we’ve learned and what we can do differently next time, we can love ourselves and realize that we are right where we need to be to learn what we need to learn and become the person we want to be. We don’t need to be farther along, we don’t need to overwork ourselves, or be so hard on ourselves! When we can allow that kindness for ourselves, it is so much easier to allow it for others.
When I get down on myself or hard on myself I like to think of a child learning to walk. The parent doesn’t care about the balance checks or the falls. And that the child has to try over and over to get the hang of it. But the parents are ecstatic just to watch the learning process and what a miracle it is that this child can learn to walk! Really aren’t we all in a similar situation? We are all trying to learn and grow in some way, and instead of beating ourselves up for every fall or wobble, can we learn to celebrate that we keep getting up and keep trying? I know that when I think this way it helps me put life in perspective and I have much more patience with myself. It feels very freeing knowing that I don’t have to be perfect and helps me feel energized to get up and try again.
So my challenge is to ask you to join me in having more self-compassion and in turn more compassion for others. We are all just trying to figure out this life. Let’s love, support and cheer each other along the way.