I have recently discovered that I am judgmental. Or, let me put that in a more responsible way. I have recently acknowledged that I am judgmental.
Me. A social worker. A college professor. A father. A husband. Me. Judgmental. Now, how the heck did that happen??? I mean, not only am I “trained” to suspend judgment, I’m also just “that kinda guy”.
The more I think about it, the more I can acknowledge it. I’m passing judgments all over the place. We ALL do this. Every time we snicker at someone, get angry with someone, feel betrayed by someone, want to leave someone…even when we love someone. We’re passing judgments.
The snickering, getting angry, feeling betrayed, wanting to leave, and loving are all reactions. That makes sense. These are reactions to things that happen to us. Now if we have two boxes, plus the “judgement,” it might be easier to see.
Now, there’s something that happens in between the THING THAT HAPPENS and MY REACTION – and that is what I would refer to as my “judgment”. In ITC, it’s more commonly known as my “perspective” or my “spin”.
My judgment on the thing that happens will be influenced by a whole whack of things such as my values, my experiences, my education, my childhood, my philosophy, my religion, my mood (especially my mood).
An example. Let’s say that the Thing that Happens is that …. My youngest daughter pulls a temper tantrum (she’s two and a half and there are days when I question her humanity). Now, My Reaction could be “utter disgust”, “frustration” or “resigned acceptance a la half-smile”.
My Reaction, as I said before, will largely be directed by My Judgment. And, my judgment is influenced by Other Stuff About Me. Let’s break it down into the three Reactions.
If my reaction is Utter Disgust, then my judgment is somewhat emotional. And that negative judgment is influenced by…well, my mood is a bit off. Probably, I’m a little tired of changing diapers (though my wife does it more — I’m just whining). My Utter Disgust is also about my judgment to what is IN the diaper, which is probably not going to be easy to clean. I also have a philosophy about cleanliness and my kid’s lack of incorporating this value is grossing me out too. There is also a tiny bit of religious influence that embraces cleanliness too, so my Utter Disgust could be a reaction to that.
So, all these Things About Me help to form a judgment about the diaper which leads me to react with Utter Disgust.
Next is the reaction of Frustration. This comes a little from tiredness and mood. It also comes from my childhood. I was raised with pretty high expectations and was sometimes compared to other kids my age. There may be some leftovers there as I parent my own children. The frustration comes from the childhood expectation of “why isn’t she the best two-and-a-half year old?” Another influence is my own unwillingness to tolerate repeated changes of soiled diapers (hear that whine). All of these influences then provide for a negative judgment which then, gives rise to my reaction of Frustration.
And the final Reaction is “Resigned Acceptance a la half-smile”. My judgment here is not so hard or negative. The Things About Me that give rise to this more positive judgment are having a understanding that gross diapers are a part of early childhood, the understanding that this is just a part of parenting that has to be done (no whining now), an anticipation of making funny faces at my child as I change the wretched diaper and sharing some humour and closeness with her. And perhaps there’s a bit of inherent patience mixed in there too. My reaction is the resigned acceptance (sigh).
Now, let’s imagine that I were to take each diaper change with a Frustrated or Utterly Disgusted reaction. Over and over again, what do you think would happen? Resentment, disdain and scorn, … and distance from my child (and in so many ways, distance from myself.)
Now, I gave you a pretty benign example of one of the Things That Happen to me. No doubt, there are Things that Happen which are FAR MORE SERIOUS. Think of family violence, spousal abuse, sexual assault. And in no way, would I suggest we take everything with a Resigned Acceptance…nor should we. Some of those judgments we have, though negative, can be quite helpful to us and keep us safe. Think of how your negative judgments actually help you when some sleaze ball is hitting on you.
What I am suggesting (and you have heard this from ITC again and again) is that you do have a choice over the judgments you CREATE. That’s right. You create judgments.
As Wayne and Co. suggest over and over, the spin we put on life’s situations really do make a difference in how we react. And our reactions dictate the spin we put on life itself. I want to be a little more direct and say that our reactions dictate the JUDGMENT we place on life.
As I look back on my education and training, telling me to suspend my judgments or to be non-judgmental, as I look back on my religion and spirituality paving my path to salvation (or a better reincarnation) by being non-judgmental and my own smugness at being inherently non-judgmental, I think it’s probably much more responsible of me to acknowledge the fact that I DO have judgments. And then explore their roots. And then realize that I have CHOICE over the types of judgments I cast on Things That Happen, on People I Meet and Situations That I Ponder.
How do you judge life? As a burden to be shouldered with frustration, resentment and cynicism? As an adventure to be embraced with spirit, thrill and the excitement of gathering new experiences? Or, as a benevolent process filled with opportunity that we take in, feel and let go?
Well, time to change a diaper….Guaranteed, I’m not going to be utterly disgusted or frustrated…this time, anyway.