“Taking responsibility for your beliefs and judgments gives you the power to change them.” ~Byron Katie
For thousands of years, traditional wisdom has told us not to judge others. But let’s face it – we all do it at least some of the time, and, for some of us, judging others is an everyday occurrence.
Judgment Damages Relationships
The problem is that judging others holds us back from living a rich and meaningful life that is in alignment with your life’s purpose and enjoying harmony in relationships. When we learn to let go of judging others – by recognizing and releasing the underlying fear that is driving our judgmental spirit, we begin to experience powerful, unexpected changes within.
The Rewards of Letting Go
Instead of feeling divided and chaotic, we feel a sense of wholeness and integration. Our anger and frustration are replaced with a profound sense of balance. The fear we feel is superseded by the experience of peace and serenity; the isolation and distance that judging others causes in our spirit is replaced with true intimacy and vibrancy. The loneliness we feel is filled by a deeper appreciation of the spiritual nature of life.
The Connection Between Judgment and Your Conditioning
Judgment comes out of our own conditioning. We are taught to judge certain ways of thinking and acting as “wrong” or negative”. We judge others for things we don’t feel comfortable with ourselves. The judging mind is about comparing, dividing, separation. When you separate from others, you close your heart to them and perpetuate their suffering – and yours. The key is to open your heart and pay attention to your judgment with compassion. When you are compassionate of yourself and others, you can allow them – and yourself – to be OK.
It is possible for us to let go of judging others in your life, no matter how ingrained the negative thought patterns you’ve learned have become. The key lies in how you decide to interpret and assign meaning to your thoughts.
When you notice judgment (fear) in your life, I encourage you to consider practicing the following five ways of letting go of judgment and fear. While these five strategies may seem simple, they are not always easy to remember and achieve. Once you have experienced the joy of letting go of judgment and fear, the decision to make authentic changes will become easier.
Shift your mindset by getting curious
Making a shift in your thoughts in the moment is the first step in releasing judgment and recognizing your fear.
Often, we are unaware of how our thoughts are impacting our body, emotions and interactions with others.
When we let our curiosity seek a deeper understanding of what is really happening, we realize that there are deeper, sometimes more primal fears at work.
In order to be free, we must be emancipated from the bondage of the fear created by our conditioned mindset. It limits who we think we are, what we are capable of and what is possible for us. This fear impacts how we treat ourselves and others, how we show up in this world, and ultimately, what we create and experience.
The place we are enslaved is in our own mind. We are at the mercy of our thoughts and feelings that we seem unable to control. We suppress, repress and try to drown them out with busy-ness, devices and other distractions.
But when you stop trying to suppress your thoughts by turning your attention to them as they arise within your mind, you will notice that often your thoughts are interpretations created by your mind – not necessarily “facts”. When you allow yourself to have such thoughts by observing them and accepting them, you then have the power to shift your mindset and let your thoughts go without acting on them.
Recognize the fear underlying your judgment
When you are able to shift your mindset and accept your judgmental thoughts, take a moment to consider the true meaning of your judgment. Consider the consequences that might occur as a result of your judgment. Often, underneath judgement is fear of what might happen if you or someone else does or does not engage in a particular action, or your insecurities about yourself.
Here’s an example:
- Susie says “You have chair hair” because my hair is sticking up in the back of my head.
- I feel hurt and embarrassed when I hear her say this.
- Her statement hit a psychological “button” that makes me feel I’m not attractive and, therefore, I’m not a worthy person.
- I have judgmental thoughts about Susie. I decide she was being rude and is not a very nice person.
- My fear is that I’m unworthy of love and joy because I am insecure about my appearance
Avoid comparisons and open your mind to new possibilities
Everyone is different. We all have different temperamental tendencies, genetics, instincts, personality, attachment styles, environmental factors, cognitive abilities, life experiences, etc. No one is the same as anyone else.
That’s reason enough to not judge! Each of us is complex and delicate; with unique strengths and weaknesses. No matter how much we think we know someone else, we can never really know what is in their mind or heart (unless they tell us). When we open our heart and mind and let go of our judgment of others, we open ourselves up to new possibilities.
Let’s continue on with our example:
- The truth is that Susie’s opinion about my hair is not a true reflection of my value and worth as a human being.
- If I can get past my hurt, embarrassment, fear and judgment, I might be able to get curious and go look in the mirror for myself.
- If I open myself up to possibilities, I might realize that Susie was being kind to point out that my hair was sticking up so I could fix it.
Embrace a mindset of love and compassion
The truth is, when someone does or says something that triggers fear and judgment within us, it’s an opportunity to grow in a positive way. In our example, when I can apply a mindset of love and compassion, I can appreciate the negative comment if it was meant to be helpful, not hurtful (a perspective I am free to choose.)
Be patient and affirm yourself
Judgment is a way we invalidate someone else or ourselves. The remedy for invalidation is validation.
Once you have identified your judgment, you can look deeper to the root cause, the fear you harbor. Once you know the root, you can seek truth and validation to help you let go of the fear and, consequently, the judgment.
In our example above, we saw that the root was our fear of being unattractive and, therefore, unworthy.
When we look for the validation (affirmation), we can try statements out to help us recognize our own truth like:
- I am worthy of all the love and joy I desire
- My appearance is not the same as my worthiness
- I am the only one that decides my value
- I appreciate my worthiness
- I treat myself with respect and love because I am worthy
- I am awesome at [fill in the blank….]
- I am worthy of love and compassion
- I love myself unconditionally
- I fully accept myself and know that I am worthy of great things in life
- I am glorious, dynamic and alive
- I embrace the unique rhythm of my inner being
- I do not need someone else to feel happy
- I am worthy and deserving of all I desire
- I love and approve of myself
- I am worthy of manifesting my dreams
- I stand up for myself and what is right
- My voice has infinite power in this world
- I love the unique person that I am
- I am worthy of new and exciting experiences
- I recognize my worthiness
Our uncomfortable feelings are clear reminders that we’ve taken on something that may not really be true. A judgmental thought can be a gift that lets us identify an untruth that is causing us suffering and blocking us from being more connected with ourselves and others.
It IS possible to let go of judgment and fear. You can make the choice to practice a new way of relating to yourself, others and the universe.
What judgment(s) are you currently harboring? What is the fear that is underlying your judgment(s)? What thoughts do you experience when you choose to love and show compassion to the person you are judging? How does this shift how you feel? I’d love if you would take the time to share in the comments below.
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