Embracing Judgments – by Kind Communication

Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2013/08/11/embracing-judgments/

Judgments aren’t bad!  They aren’t the enemy!  And you don’t need to criticize yourself to “stop judging”.  If we treat judgments with the same critical energy that creates judgment, then we only fuel the fire.  To say “It’s good to be compassionate” and “It’s bad to be judgmental of others” is only to make one more judgment about ourselves or others.  But first let me explain what a judgment really is.

A judgment is any time you evaluate one thing as inherently “right” or “good”, while another thing “bad” or “wrong”.  This is different though from stating your preferences.  My preference is that someone else cleans the living room.  Or that I get to go on a vacation.  There my preferences because they are scenarios where I can clearly see how my needs are going to get met.  So a judgment is when I think “if no one else cleans the living room, then they’re all inconsiderate”.  In other words, if no one else cleans the living room, then they are “bad” housemates or even people.  Or if I were to say “My boss is the kindest, most open hearted person” is an evaluation that my boss is “good” because he gave me my vacation time.  But if giving me my vacation time makes him “good”, then the next time when the company’s budget is cut and he can’t afford the same vacation for me, then he’s an “inconsiderate slave driver”.  He’s all of a sudden bad.  So being put on the conditional “good” pedastal really isn’t all that safe.

Do you see the difference between preferences and judgments?

Often we try to stop judging others by saying things to ourselves like “its not okay to judge others” or “I should be more compassionate” or “I shouldn’t be so mean”.  Now that you know the difference between preferences and judgments, do you see how these are judgments I’m making about myself?  ”If I judge others, that’s not okay, its bad”…”It would be good for me to be more compassionate”…”I’m bad because of how mean I am”.

And what happens when we try to thwart judgments with more judgments?  Well we tie ourselves into a bind.  Let me tell a personal story to demonstrate this.  I was at the grocery store the other day and was getting quite frustrated with the person in front of me.  She was being “very impatient” with the “poor cashier”.  I thought the way she was treating the cashier was “rude”, inconsiderate”, and “obnoxious”.

But as a “good” Nonviolent Communication teacher, I told myself “I shouldn’t judge her, I should be extra compassionate with her”.  I noticed that as I kept doing this, I only got more and more frustrated!  I had more judgments come up about her, and then I got even more annoyed and frustrated of myself.  Judging my judgmental self split me in two.  It created a “good Alex” and a “bad Alex”, and they were struggling wtih each other for control.  It wasn’t pretty.  Ever have an experience like that?

So what did I do?  Well I turned and embraced “judgmental Alex”.  Our judgmental side really is our friend.  She or he really has something important to tell us, so important in fact that he or she doesn’t have time to phrase it in a soft, compassionate way.  Our judgmental side is the side of us that is feeling high levels of distress and concern.  And so like any good friend who is experiencing lots of distress the remedy is empathy, patience, and understanding.

Embracing the judgments means looking for what the feelings and needs are under the judgments.  So when I was in the grocery story with the lady, I asked my judgmental voice “What are you feelings and needs?”  And a whole new stream of thoughts occured in me.  ”I’m frustrated, tired, and dismayed that in this moment there isn’t more harmony, peace, compassion, understanding, respect, and love being met.”  And with that the tension I felt inside of myself melted away.  Once I connected with what was under my judgments, suddenly lots of compassion energy got freed up in me.  I didn’t even have to try to avoid jugdments.

Try it.  Next time you catch yourself judging someone else, or yourself, pause and ask this judgmental voice with as much kindness and gentlness you can muster “what are your feelings?  And what are your needs?”

KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.