~ Follow along and read all of Annie’s columns on Elephant here.
Can we all make one simple promise when it comes to 2021?
Let’s make this year the year we stop judging. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my time upon this earth, it is that casting judgments gets us nowhere.
There is literally not a single positive thing that comes out of judging others and ourselves.
We can all agree that we are ready to move forward in 2021 and reclaim some positivity, some hope, and the belief that people are good, which 2020 seemed to eradicate from our memory banks.
The only way we can move forward as individuals and as a society is if we stop casting the weapons of blame, shame, and judgment on those around us. There’s been plenty of that going around, and as far as I can tell, and it hasn’t helped a damn thing yet.
The only thing judgment does is create further barriers and obstacles that we end up wasting precious time, energy, and resources to break down and heal from. Judgment is keeping us from healing, and if there is one thing we need as individuals, as a society, and as a world—it is healing.
Judgment keeps us separate.
Judgment keeps us separate from ourselves.
Inevitably, the things we judge in other people are the very things we like least about ourselves. Carl Jung expounds on this when he speaks about our shadow selves. The areas we judge others most deeply are the same areas within ourselves that we have buried deeply, and we are unwilling to admit or embrace.
This inability to embrace the “ugly” parts of ourselves keeps us from being authentic with ourselves. We’re perpetually living this lie where we can’t accept or believe that we would ever think or act like “them.” It’s virtually impossible to heal and move forward until we accept everything that makes up who we are—including the bits we are loathsome to admit reside deep within us.
Judgment keeps us separate from others.
Earl Nightingale said, “When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.”
That statement is glaringly true and is why we separate ourselves from others when we choose to cast judgments. If we refer back to what I said above about shadow selves, you can see where this becomes problematic.
Rather than looking at something and seeing our commonality, we’ve disassociated from those traits. We pick up self-help books and bond with authors over their wisdom and insight over shared flaws, yet we bury those same qualities and use them to separate ourselves from our neighbors and loved ones. We humans sure do practice flawed logic at times.
Judgment makes us selfish.
It is only natural for us to be aware and observant of the world around us. We don’t live in a vacuum. In fact, awareness is paramount when it comes to healing and connecting with others. Where we stumble is when we choose judgment over observation. Observation becomes judgment when we take an observation and make it about us.
We’ve all stumbled upon a social media post where people park themselves and blatantly state, I’m just here for the comments. Which is rarely true. What is going on instead is that people are there—silently or quite loudly judging. We take things others say or do and make them about ourselves. How their actions have made us feel insecure, angry, disappointed, or whatever the emotions we’re feeling may be.
The thing is, what someone else says, feels, or does has nothing to do with us. It is all about them. We all have big feelings, and we are entitled to them, but how we react to the feelings and actions of others is on us. When we choose judgment over observation, we kill any potential for healing. Empathy, compassion, and love take a back seat the moment we allow judgment to take the wheel.
Judgment prevents vulnerability.
Healing is nearly impossible without vulnerability. Vulnerability requires letting down our defenses—getting real, raw, and open to everything. The ugliness not just with the world but also within ourselves.
Judgment is the very antithesis of vulnerability because it literally means standing on the offensive line, ready to defeat anything that shakes or threatens the beliefs you’re working so hard to defend.
Judgment prevents curiosity.
Healing comes from reaching a place of understanding—understanding ourselves and understanding others. Notice that does not mean agreeing with others. You can understand where someone is coming from and still not agree with their viewpoint at all. Judgments are assumptions, not truths.
When we choose judgment, we choose to shut down educating ourselves and allowing ourselves to make better, more informed decisions. We’re accepting making decisions based on assumptions (which may be false) rather than seeking truths that may potentially benefit both ourselves and others.
Healing and moving away from judgment takes time. And it can be painful at first.
Getting curious and moving away from judgment isn’t an overnight thing. It’s a learned process and something that takes work. It hurts, and it is painful to strip away our defenses and to accept some of the wounds we’ve cast upon and created in ourselves.
I know because my forays into healing took years. My biggest stumbling block in choosing curiosity over judgment showed up in my drinking. I would literally say that I didn’t trust anyone who didn’t drink because facing the idea that I might be the one who had a problem with alcohol was just too ugly.
I’ve seen it show up again when I’ve chosen anger with my children over understanding.
Coming to the realization that judgment is a weapon and one we yield without any regard for ourselves or those around us is sobering. It is also the moment where we move from inflicting pain to promoting healing.
When we consciously lay down the weapons of judgment and embrace curiosity, compassion, and empathy instead, we create the space not only for healing ourselves but understanding and healing others—on a local, national, and global scale.
I think we’ve all been separate long enough. Isn’t it time we all start connecting instead?
If you’re ready to move away from judgment—both of yourself and others when it comes to your relationship with alcohol, join us in our always free The Alcohol Experiment. You will receive encouraging and mindset shifting daily videos and emails and an incredible community of 200,000+ people also experimenting with their alcohol intake. It is completely free (and always will be) at The Alcohol Experiment and now also available as an app in Google Play and the Apple Store.