I am continually learning about observing vs. judging. This one has so many layers that it continues to surprise me. I realize that although I have, in years past, prided myself on being open-minded and non-judgmental, that it was an illusion I sold myself. Oh, I was good at the broad categories and protected classes. But not so much everything else. I would get so upset when I saw people acting or speaking in what I considered judgmental ways. How dare they judge? How could they be so arrogant, cruel, mean, pious, small-minded, etc., etc.? Their apparent flaw really got to me. Do you see what I did there? I projected my biases, my judgment onto others and in the process, uh, judged the heck out of them. I woke up to that and realized that I was frustrated by what I saw in others that I disliked in myself.
I have been so against judgment that I have judged myself and others harshly for doing so. I also just realized that I have, as tends to happen when we attempt to overcorrect, swung so far in the other direction that I have judged myself for very normal observations and reactions. For instance, yesterday, my husband was watching a show on TV as I was in the kitchen. The voice of the announcer was irritating to me. I immediately went inside myself, which is a habit I have in reaction to any irritation or troubled thoughts or feelings I experience (this is a great habit, by the way, and one I suggest you give a try.) I asked myself why I was judging her. I then blessed her and gave thanks for her uniqueness and her ability to create a fantastic show and lifestyle for herself. A few minutes later my husband commented that someone should have instructed her on how not to speak through her nose. Wow. Observation. Not really a judgment. She has a profession where a pleasing speaking voice is paramount. 100% of the data in my very small sample revealed that the voice on the recording was not pleasing. This is nothing against her personally in any way. Simply fact. An observation of this small sample.
It is a process. I am on the journey. You are on the journey. We are getting better every single day.
But we all make judgments about people and things. We stereotype. We assume. Our brains are designed to categorize things as we sift through the millions (billions?) of inputs we receive all day every day. It is how we are designed so that we can eliminate all of the “noise” and only focus on what is relevant to the moment. So I now forgive myself for my judgments when I see that I have made them. I can also do this now for others without even thinking. For myself, I watch for opportunity to improve but I don’t beat myself up about any slip-ups either. However, my goal, my desire, is to watch without judgment and to merely observe and see what I can learn. I observe the displeasing voice on the TV. I observe the internal struggle I have and really define observing vs. judging. I love myself enough to be present, learn and continually advance. I learn to be more conscious of my speaking voice and look to improve that for the work that I am called to do. I bless, and give thanks for, the woman to whom the voice belongs. I give her kudos as well for she has made it despite any perceived limitations. What a great lesson in all of that.