Last year, in a post, I wrote about how judgmental I was–so judgmental that on a silent meditation walk at a spa I found myself judging the way the other people walked. OMG! The thing is, I’ve always judged myself just as harshly. I would imagine it started in high school, wouldn’t you? Teen-age girls and all.
My pleasant discovery of the morning is that I don’t think I’m so judgmental anymore. I suspect that this project/practice is responsible for my accepting myself more and judging myself less and thus allowing myself to do the same of others.
We are all humans together, after all.
Oh, do I know this one well…. 😉 I, too, have always been my harshest critic.
It just may be this project. I agree (BTW, I am really enjoying your project). I can say that having a blog has changed me in many ways, especially judgement. Now that I am putting myself out there with everyone else, my gaze is a bit softer.
Karen, it’s nice that we’re all out here together : )
Are you in Provincetown as you write this? Or in the relative commotion of your Georgia life? I can certainly see judgments slipping away where one has peace and quiet.
I too have become somewhat less judgmental of others as I’ve aged. Life is too tough for us all to cast even mental stones. But I still hold myself to a pretty high standard. Bill says I have a punitive superego. I do less than I used to aim for. But whatever I take on, I still work hard at. And I bet you do too.
I’m in the thick of things in Georgia, Nina, and have been for a week. And yes, me too–whatever I take on, I work hard at it.
There’s a fine line, often, between being observant and being judgmental. And, again, a fine line between being judgmental and using good judgment. I’ve got a pretty vicious superego as well–she used to harangue me so cruelly I couldn’t watch a damn TV show without feeling like I’m personally responsible for the hungry children in Brazil by being such a slacker. I have both beaten her back AND learned to accept that sometimes what she says holds a truth I need to hear. Which brings me back to the difference between being observant, imaginative, an active meaning-maker, and being judgmental. I’m betting you might be able to build a complicated, fascinating character on the way that woman just walked ahead of you. The way her heals dragged, her eyes are fixed ahead, and her arms swinging like a martinette. What do these things say about her? Maybe nothing but what COULD they say?? Because you are observant, b/c you’re always asking what these things you’re noticing mean… you can write believable, relatable fiction. Put another way, b/c you tend toward being judgmental, you know how to show and not tell. There, how’s that for a lovely dollop of rationalization? I can vouch for it’s bona fides as excellent projection, anyway! AND I think it’s even mostly true! Here’s what I think is DEFINITELY true: If you don’t act on a judgmental thought, you can forgive yourself for the initial little spritz of spiritual meanness. That’s how I deal with my own Inner Snit, by cutting her off cold and then proving, through my actions, that I don’t value her opinion. But I very much like your way of dealing with her–teaching her how to relax, step back, get drunk on ocean air. And, of course, by writing.
Well done, Claire. That’s a very nice dollop of rationalization you have there. And I want to steal this–the Inner Snit.
I don’t think we can be judgmental with everything, right? I think my judging is somewhat selective, though I do know I can be too critical at times, but I’m also very patient and accepting! Don’t you think it can depend on what it is and who it is? That’s how it seems to be for me. Of course, it would be better not to be judgmental at all, but…
Donna, despite Claire’s clever rationalizations, for me, being judgmental usually equals being critical and despite my mind jumping in to “correct” my thinking, I would like not to have the critical thought to begin with. For you, it sounds like it’s a different thing altogether. And after all, we can’t be perfect so…
But IS it just a clever rationalization? I’m not so sure. Some gifts come with sharp edges. And putting aside this concept of “gifts” entirely–my argument that your (and my) reflexive tendency to judge is part of what makes us good meaning-makers, and we do a lot of good when we make all that meaning–it simply has to be true that we all make initial judgments so quickly and naturally b/c doing so was, when we were barely smarter than rabbits, a great strategy for survival. It’s just so mean to pick on your brain for trying to take care of you! Be kind to the brain. Forgive the brain. She loves you.
Claire, it’s so interesting that you came back to comment here again. I’ve actually been thinking about this issue almost every day recently. The deeper I get into this practice, the more I see that I’ve been (over some years) trying to rub off the judgmental part of me, when I should have perhaps been trying to sharpen it, catch it, and use it–as a tool to understand myself AND OTHERS, thus deepening my empathy and my embrace of all humans–yes, as you say here, the “reflexive tendency to judge is part of what makes us good meaning-makers.” And it’s also part of what makes us us.