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Judging others is really easy to do.

A person I’m quite close to recently said to me, “I feel like you’re judging me.”    I paused, quickly asked myself if there was any truth in that phrase, and, with sadness, responded, “Yes, that’s true.  I’m judging you.  I’m sorry.”

It was a weird feeling to be called on it. I could’ve justified myself and come up with a wonderful explanation of my intentions, but the word quickened my heart and I knew I had to come clean.

This story didn’t happen 10 years ago; this story happened two weeks ago.

My theme for 2019 is to examine areas in my life where I might be striving, as in, trying too hard.  In January, the topic was They Like Me. They Like Me Not, striving within relationships.  February is about striving too hard to be perfect.

Here’s what I didn’t anticipate learning:  when I strive to be perfect,  I open myself up to judge others.

When I strive to be perfect, I remove myself from the practice of being gracious, both to myself and towards others. The more I pursue perfection, the more I’ll measure imperfection in others.

Gracious definition:  “courteous, kind, pleasant.”
Judgmental definition:  “having or displaying an excessively critical point of view.”

1- What causes a person to become judgmental?  

[1]  THE RIGHT WAY:  Let’s look at the example above.  Why was I being judgmental? I was afraid the person would make me look bad. Isn’t that incredible?  Waaaaait a minute.  I was judging someone else because deep down I was afraid I’d look bad?  Wow wow wow.  The age ol’ human struggle:  the need to look like I have it all together. I got caught judging I wanted to be right.  My way may be a fabulous way, but it doesn’t have to be my way, and it most definitely doesn’t have to be the right way. When I put pressure on myself to appear like I have it all together, I’m inviting myself to judge others and to compare myself with others. Striving to be perfect is the need for approval. I don’t want to be judgmental and I definitely don’t want to strive to be perfect.

So, what do we do? We choose to be gracious, not critical.

I like that.

[2]  THE WORD “HATE”:  This was a huge epiphany for me this month.  In my above example, I never used the word “hate”.  HOWEVER!!!  As I continued this thought process, I learned something new! 

Anytime you use the word “hate’, you’re opening yourself up to being judgmental.  Wow! This was a huge epiphany for me this month. 

For example, let’s pretend I hate carrots.

Another person lets me know they love carrots.

I then respond,  “You love carrots????  Ugg, I hate them.”

How is the person going to respond?  Where can they go in this conversation?

They might say, “You do?  Oh I just love them.  So yummy.”

Then I utter, “Can’t stand them. Hate the taste and the texture.”

The word “hate” creates an absolute statement.  It limits our connection with others.

What if  I were to say, “I’m not a fan of carrots.”

The individual can now engage, “You’re not?  Oh, I love them.”

“You do? Blah.  There’s something about the taste and texture that doesn’t work for me.”

“That’s ok.  What foods do you love?”

Removing the word ‘hate’ in a conversation, invites a person to engage with you on any topic.

2- What do you do if you’re being judged?

[1]  IT’S NORMAL:  We’re all guilty of judging something or someone.  None of us are immune to judgment.  Of course you don’t like being the recipient of judgment, and guess what, neither do the people you judge.  What a relief!  We’re all judgmental to some degree or other.  Cool, we have something in common!  🙂

[2]  DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY:  I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve had to learn, and continue to learn, is to not take it personally.  It used to wipe me out.  I would feel so defensive, and go immediately into self-protection.  If I’m invisible, no one can judge me.  This correlates with the previous article.  I have a 50/50 chance of someone judging me or not.  It’s completely out of my control.  Here’s the good news:  for every one person who judges me, there are three who are gracious with me.  There is more grace surrounding your life than there is judgment.  Enjoy the grace.

[3]  REMAIN CONFIDENT:  What do I do to remain confident?  I remind myself that no one is allowed to affect my confidence.  If my confidence is jolted, that’s my own fault.  There’s no one to blame but me.  Confidence is part of my character; a necessary quality that strengthens me, empowers me, believes in me, cheers me on, encourages me, and reminds me to get back up and keep running.  No one is allowed to rob me of my confidence, and truthfully, they actually can’t.  If I lose my confidence, then I’ve relinquished it all on my own.  When my confidence is waning it’s because I’m doubting myself, my circumstances, my purpose and my decisions.  Doubt is the enemy to confidence, not someone’s judgment towards me.

[4]  EXAMINE YOUR HEART:  If someone is judging you, the best thing to do is consider their judgment as a gift.  Pause your world and ask yourself, “If they could graciously communicate with me, what would I be willing to hear?”  Turn their judgment into a learning opportunity.  For example, if I teach a workshop and someone judges my content, this can be a tremendous learning gift for me.  1.  What part of my workshop were they most concerned with?  2.  Are there alternate ways for me to communicate the same message?

IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE You can offer sound judgment and not be judgmental. 
Judgment and Being Judgmental are two different words. 
JUDGMENT definition: the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.
JUDGMENTAL definition:   having or displaying an excessively critical point of view.

– Karen Thrall