Judging Others, Judging Ourselvesby Michele Minehart, RYT & Community Educator
Last fall I drove through a subdivision and noticed a house with Christmas lights in full glory well before the societally-agreed-upon commencement date of Thanksgiving. I heard a voice in my mind say, “Ugh, seriously? Already? Can we not just have one holiday at a time?”
As I drew closer, I remembered that the family in that house had only recently moved in. My inner dialogue began to shift, as it said, “Oh, I bet they’re so excited to celebrate their first holiday season in their new home! I bet the anticipation is making this a fun time of year for them.”
I recognized my judgmental tendencies, believing that others should act according to my own sense of Shoulds and Shouldn’ts, and then had a much more profound realization. As I drove outside their home, edifying opinions as to their exterior illumination schedules, the owners of the home felt none of it. Their day and their lives didn’t change based upon what I thought of their decisions. But mine had. I could feel the “clenchiness” of my judgment, almost as if my eyes narrowed and chin dropped as the negative energy arose. And then I felt my heart lift and my shoulders soften as I welcomed the warmer feelings of a first Christmas in a new home.
Sometimes the undertone of “do not judge” is a call to leave everyone alone to their decisions, or ways of living, and perhaps there’s room for more “live and let live.” But in my experience, making an effort of releasing judgmental thoughts changes me and allows me to live with a sense of freedom. I’m relieved of needing to carry the weight of the Shoulds of others – and, with practice, I learn to set down my own set of Shoulds. I can reroute the energy of judgment and spend it instead on inhabiting joy.