I have two drafts posts here on Canvas [okay, I actually have more than two but those two are… particularly difficult]. I’ve been meaning to finish them for a while. I started one back in May and the other one a bit more than a month ago. I tried again just now. Read the first one, couldn’t bring myself to write anything. Closed that tab, went to the other, felt myself being triggered again. Closed that tab too.
So, I’m going to write about something that has been bothering me for a while instead.
I have come to realize I am very judgmental.
And I don’t like it.
Now, if you’ve met me in person, you know that I am pretty much the same in real life as I am here. Which is friendly, smiley and bubbly. I am definitely the kind of person that “counts their blessings” instead of focusing on what they don’t have.
I am also helpful, compassionate, understanding. I am the kind of person that will bend over backwards to help friends and strangers alike. If it is in my power to help in any way – big or small, I will do it.
I am mostly charitable too. And there’s where the line starts to become blurry. Cause, you see, sometimes is very easy to be charitable. Take your loved ones, for example. It is easy to be charitable to them because, well… you love them. People that are nice to you? It is easy to cut them some slack.
But then, there are the people you don’t know personally. People you don’t know if they are nice people or bad people. You don’t know what they’ve been through. That’s the real test. Can one be charitable to/non-judgmental of those people?
I have a lot of trouble being charitable and/or compassionate about certain things. But I find it very hard to not get judgmental about say, parents who abuse their children. Spouses who abuse their life partners. People who are racist. Extremists of any kind. Things like that. I find it impossible not to judge those people.
During my rotation at the Pediatric ER, it was not uncommon to admit little patients who had been abused. All kinds of abuse.
Corporal punishment type of abuse was very common. Broken bones. Burnt hands. I always wanted to kill the parents. I had no compassion whatsoever for them. One of my professors used to tell me that I had to understand that most abusive parents are abusive to their children because they were abused children too. Still, I could not relate. Still, I judged them. Still, I had no compassion for them.
One might say, well, those are extreme cases. But, where does one draw the line, then?
For example, I can’t help but be very judgmental of parents (or care givers) who smoke in the presence of children. Yes, smoking is an addiction, I know. But second-hand smoke can and most likely will make them sick. One could say this is not an extreme case. I still can’t help it. I judge them.
It doesn’t feel good. Judging doesn’t bring anything good. Judging doesn’t help anything. Judging doesn’t solve anything.
And yet, I judge.
* I initially titled this post “Thou Shalt Not Judge” but it sounded a tad too biblical for me so I changed it. Let it not be said that the SSG has messianic delusions.
** You may find this strange but I throw bloggers I interact with into the “people I know” pile. So there.
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Hi SSG! I think you’re perhaps being too hard on yourself. I mean, although, I agree, it’s not right to judge, the things you are judging ARE wrong. It’s what you do with your judgement that is also key. Plus, it’s not as if you have your priorities in life all backwards, and you know the difference in right and wrong. Things like abuse–flat wrong. I’m not saying it’s okay to judge them, but I just think the fact that you’re aware of an aspect about yourself that you don’t like, well, that’s a really great thing. It makes room for personal growth and change. But, you’re not alone, I think we all judge people–and for less things than abuse related situations. Don’t be so tough on yourself. There’s a fine line in saying it’s okay to judge people that are genuinely doing really bad things, and saying we should offer then grace. It’s a really tough things. I’m going around in circles here. Bottom line, you’re awesome and this is a great post, really thought provoking.
It is possible, yes. I’ve been known for being too hard of myself 😉
Thank you for you kind words. They really made me think. It is a tough one, yes. Hopefully I’ll be able to find the balance. Hope you are having a great week!
I believe we all judge in some way. It has to do with your basic morals. I can totally relate to what you are saying because I do not believe that if you were abused you will go on to abuse. I do believe however, that many abusers can be rehabilitated. I believe that abusive behaviour is learned and can therefore be unlearned.
The fact that you don’t like being judgmental and that you are aware that you are shows that you are trying not to be and that will show on the outside.
Exactly. My mother was the recipient of nasty corporal punishment and yet she never laid a finger on me or my little sister. I don’t know how she did it but she was an amazing mother.
Thank you. I do try. Sigh…
I know exactly what you mean. I judge people and I don’t want to, there are so many reasons not to judge and still I find myself thinking judgmental thoughts.
I am working on noticing my thoughts more often and trying to work out where the judgment comes from. Sometimes I realize my automatic judgment (for me it’s especially around food, weight, and appearance) is because of my own issues. I’m judging people as I would judge myself in that circumstance and not stepping back and realizing that everyone isn’t like me. In other cases it’s just the way my mind has been molded, whether it be by media, family, friends, or myself.
I’m having a hard time not being too hard on myself for being judgmental, but I look at it like treating an addiction in a way: the first step is recognizing you have a problem, then you can work on changing the things you want to change.
I have the same problem! It goes like this: If I can do it, so can anyone else. And of course you are absolutely right, everyone is not like me. Problem is I don’t consider myself anything out of the ordinary so it’s hard for me to understand why if I can, others can’t. But I am working on that too 🙂
There are times when righteous indignation is absolutely appropriate. It’s perfectly fine to judge that parent who tied up their three year old and beat them with a coathanger for the “crime” of wetting the bed, or the parent who smokes in a closed car with their ex-preemie asthmatic child stuck in the back. Give yourself a break. It’s OK to have those feelings. In fact, it shows that you have compassion for the oppressed.
Thank you! I know that sometimes I am very hard on myself. But it is kind of ironic, when you think about it, that I am hyper-sensitive to other people’s feelings and yet can’t forgive certain things. But I suppose you are right. Some things are worth righteous indignation 🙂
I saw a pregnant woman smoking once….I couldn’t help but say “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?!?!?” in my head and proceed to text my friends to tell them about it.
I think we’ll always judge but it’s the awareness that is important. The awareness allows us to think about why we feel a certain way about something and then it’s of course worth realizing that we are being judged as well 😛
Same thing happened to me and I did tell her that what she was doing was very wrong. I was so furious I left the place. I suppose that person thinks I am a judgmental bitch or something. But all I could think was that poor baby 😦
I have had some loved ones commit the very crimes I previously judged others harshly for – it hurts, because all of a sudden you are face to face with a loved one and all the things you have said you would do to that kind of person. Has taken (ok … torn) the edge of my judgement in some areas and sins I never thought I could understand.I suppose I try to judge and despise the behavior more than the one who has committed it.
Note that I said, “I try” … don’t always succeed.
P.S. There is such a thing as righteous anger and righteous judgement – I allow myself this in extreme cases, with absolutely no remorse!
Oh, boy. Yes, that burns. I guess in the end, it is a matter of love. Can one love so much that allows one to forgive so much? I don’t know. It is very hard to say. Are there things absolutely unforgivable? I know there are things I CANNOT – under any circumstance, forgive. I guess that classifies as righteous judgment?
As I get older I find myself increasingly thinking that the whole ‘don’t judge’ thing is highly over-rated. Maybe I’m just becoming a grumpy old man little by little?! Anyway, here I think you’re spot on to judge. I once sat in a court hearing the sentence given to a paedophile I had given evidence against. The accused claimed, in his defence, that he had been abused in his own childhood as a mitigating factor. The Judge retorted that far from that being an acceptable reason for his behaviour, it should have made him think twice about what he was doing to the children. He had a chance to make sure what happened to him didn’t happen to others but he didn’t take it. The Judge sentenced him for the full term available to him, and rightly so. We can and should all be that kind of judging…
Oh wow SSG. Thanks for sharing this post. I think we all harbor things we don’t like about ourselves. It’s refreshing that you’re so honest here. I’ve been reading the book ‘Kitchen Table Wisdom’ by Rachel Remen, M.D. and think you might enjoy it (especially since you worked rotations in the Pediatric ER).
Pondering this excerpt today: “Judgement does not only take the form of criticism. Approval is also a form of judgement. When we approve of people, we sit in judgment of them as surely as when we criticism them. Positive judgement hurts less acutely than criticism, but is judgment all the same and we are harmed by it in far more subtle ways. To seek approval is to have no resting place, no sanctuary. Like all judgement, approval encourages a constant striving. It makes us uncertain of who we are and of our true value. This is true of the approval we give ourselves as it is of the approval we offer others. Approval can’t be trusted. It can be withdrawn at any time no matter what our track record has been. It is as nourishing of real growth as cotton candy. Yet many of us spend our lives pursuing it.” – Kitchen Table Wisdom, Rachel Remen, M.D.