We make instant judgments about so many things, dozens, even hundreds of times each day — what we approve of and like, but more often, what we disapprove of and dislike. These can be time-honored judgements: things we’ve lived with for years, if not a lifetime.
I’m not sure why we feel the need to impose snap judgements, but I know I am as guilty as anyone. I’m not here to point fingers. I’m here to provide a mirror for all of us, to illuminate not only the judgements we make toward one another but those we impose upon ourselves.
Awareness is the first step to curbing negative thoughts and allowing others — and ourselves — a hefty helping of grace.
Please read these with honesty. No one is looking over your shoulder or reading your thoughts. Consider your initial impression when you encounter:
A person wearing pajamas at the grocery store. (Really?)
That same person who is accompanied by kids without shoes. (Parents these days!)
A cloudy day when the forecast called for sunshine. (Who pays those meteorologists anyway?)
A slow checkout line at the superstore. (How’d they ever hire her?)
When you don’t get the job you applied for. (I don’t interview well. I’m not that smart.)
Teenagers and the way they dress these days. (No respect!)
A young mother or father with tattoos. (How does she/he pay for them?)
An unexpected car breakdown on the freeway during rush hour. (Dammit, I just had it into the shop last week!)
Forgetting your wedding anniversary, or your mother’s birthday, or some other significant date. (I’m so stupid about dates.)
Someone using food stamps at the grocery store. (That’s where my taxes go!)
Someone’s dirty car. (People don’t take care of their stuff.)
That neighbor who purchases a brand new car every year. (What’s he trying to prove?)
Your neighbor’s brown grass. (Lazy.)
Your brown grass. (I’m lazy.)
A child throwing a tantrum in a fancy restaurant when you are celebrating your birthday. (This is wrecking my day.)
Your sour mood after a bad day at work. (I’m no good at my job.)
Your sour mood after a fight with your spouse. (I’m no good at marriage.)
Your hair on a bad day. (I have ugly hair.)
Your crooked teeth. (Everyone else in high school had braces.)
A homeless man. (What happened to him?)
A homeless man who is missing teeth. (Why didn’t he take care of his teeth?)
A homeless man sitting on the street corner. (Why is he there where we all have to see him?)
A homeless man sitting on the street corner begging for money. (Really? He can’t get a job?)
The list could go on. It’s human nature. We have the tendency to judge everything. Honestly, it makes me a little sad; it took no time at all for me to come up with the above list. We judge others and ourselves so quickly and so harshly.
I’m trying to change this in myself. It isn’t easy, because judging is so ingrained into our human psyche. Instead of judging, I’m attempting empathy. It’s the whole “walk a day in their shoes” thing.
To start with, I’m walking a day in mine, and in doing so, I’m trying to change the inner voice that I’ve been listening to for far too long. Not judging others starts with not judging ourselves. If we can learn to be easier on ourselves, then maybe we can also learn to give others the benefit of the doubt.
We are all walking the path of life, and we are all doing the best that we can with what we have. Realizing the truth of that one sentence can change outlooks; it can change lives. When we judge ourselves or others, whom does it benefit?
In a word, no one.
Be kind. I’m in your corner. Find someone you care about and be in their corner and we’ll all make the world a better place. One judgement (or hopefully lack thereof) at a time.
Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.