“Be Curious, Not Judgmental”
– Walt Whitman
Whether you subscribe to New Year Resolutions or not, I think we can all agree that goal setting is a healthy and positive thing to do! This year, one of my New Year Resolutions was this: “Eliminate cold hearted gossip. If it doesn’t serve good purposes then don’t say it.” I wish I could say that I’ve grown by leaps and bounds and only ever have kind and encouraging things to say, but this is truly a work in progress for me. It makes me feel like a huge jerk to admit that, but I’d love to share some of things I’ve learned on this path to the judgement free zone because I do believe it’s a part of our human nature and we probably all have some work to do in this area.
I try extremely hard to be a good person; a good friend, a good daughter, a good wife, a good employee – but the one thing I sometimes forget to be is a good stranger. Something about perusing a store or walking on the sidewalk in a new neighborhood provides a sense of anonymity in which I don’t think we hold ourselves to the same standards as we do in our usual social circles. These are the moments, these anonymous instances, when I usually crack the most and sometimes have judgmental thoughts about someone I’m observing. This thought is immediately followed by an internal dialogue; “Ashley! That was so mean! I’m so sorry. I have no room to judge or even think that way. I need to do better. I WILL do better!”
All of us have judged and been judged. It’s human nature. But I really believe that at the core we are all kindhearted people. Honestly, most of the judgmental thoughts that I have like, “OMG why is she wearing that?” aren’t even true to my character and I would guess the same for you. Beyond that, I have extremely low tolerance for judgemental people that make unnecessary remarks, so I DEFINITELY don’t want to be that girl.
Recently, someone made an unnecessarily rude comment about me that really hurt my feelings. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and that annoyed me because I want to have more control of my own sense of who I am and how I value myself. This person’s remark should have just rolled off my back and right on down the road, but I let it fester. Then I decided to turn my hurt into something good! It made me consider how just because I never actually say my judgements out loud, they’re still hurtful and unnecessary and I need to do better at having more constructive thoughts.
I think self-awareness is the first step to growth, but then you need an action plan to actually make a change! So of course, as mentioned in my blog about learning, I Googled how to become a less judgemental person and I discovered the DUAL Method. Per usual with anything worthwhile and wise, it’s quite simple:
- Don’t Pass Judgement. When you feel a judgemental thought or comment coming on, PAUSE. Stop the thought in its tracks and redirect your thoughts. This is the whole self-awareness part, being mindful of your internal dialogue.
- Understand. This is about trying to imagine why a person looks or acts how they do. I UNDERSTAND why this is part of the method, but I somewhat disagree with it. It’s not for me to understand why someone acts or thinks or dresses the way they do. Everyone is free to be who they are even if we don’t understand the why. I think this should be more about understanding why you are even having the thought. Typically, a judgement says more about you than it does about the person you are judging.
- Accept. Accept the person for who they are without trying to change them. I talk a lot about you being you and me being me and how that makes the world such a wonderful place. So here we need to practice that belief.
- Love. Just love. Spread kindness. Be accepting. Promote diversity. Embrace what you don’t understand. Love is powerful and does so much more good than judgement and negativity.
I also find it’s helpful to have a mantra in mind when you notice a negative habit creeping in. A mantra is a word or statement repeated frequently to aid concentration and I think mantras really help focus our attention and thought processes. Here are a few I like:
- “Be curious, not judgmental.” – Walt Whitman
- “Watch out for the joy-stealers: gossip, criticism, complaining, fault-finding, and a negative, judgmental attitude.” – Joyce Meyer
- “A day spent judging another is a painful day. A day spent judging yourself is a painful day.” – Buddha
- “People never forget how you made them feel.” – Unknown
- “By being humble and non-judgemental, you can create peace.” – Unknown
- “We have but two ears and one mouth so that we may listen twice as much as we speak.” – Thomas Edison
As mentioned, I think being judgemental is part of our human nature. It’s sometimes how we make sense of things and also how we make ourselves feel more put together. Because of this, I think it’s a really tough habit to break. I stated in the beginning that my resolution was to stop gossiping, so how did I end up on a tangent about being non-judgemental? Well, I would say judgement is the very root of gossip and we’ve got to destroy the root so that the gossipy plant doesn’t keep growing.
That being said, I have to celebrate a little bit because I have made significant progress to eliminate gossip from my life. I make a very conscious effort to just not go there. I don’t send texts like, “omg, did you hear about so-and-so?” I don’t hang out with gossipy people or if I do I attempt to change the conversation, I’ve even unfollowed a few negative influences on my social media channels. I also talk about being less gossipy with my friends so that we can all work on this together.
My guess is that this resolution will show up on my resolution list for many years to come because like I said, it’s just part of our nature. But the progress lays in the self-awareness and acknowledgment of the behavior you want to change. Even that little accomplishment is a step in the right direction. Start there and build!
How do you create a Judgement Free Zone in your life? I’d love to know because clearly I’m no expert and I am always trying to improve!