Judgment daze

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Can you define the difference between having healthy judgments about people and being judgmental? I was accused of being judgmental. I said: “Yes, I made a judgment, and I think that’s a good thing. A person has to make judgments about others in order to make healthy boundaries.” I tried to use the phrase “When you do ______, I feel ______,” and it still seemed to offend the person. What is your opinion about the difference between being judgmental (putting someone down) and having judgments (simply using one’s brain to make wise decisions about who to hang around with)?

Our beautiful brains judge automatically, assessing elements of reality that may not even register fully or at all with our conscious mind. So, despite the viewpoint that insists judgment is bad, wrong or immoral, the truth is, we all judge. The issue is not judgment. Rather, it’s how we choose to respond to our own judgment that counts. When Jesus warned, “Judge not lest you be judged,” it was a reminder that we will be held to the same standards that we are imposing on others. Few people are prepared to live that cleanly.

When an individual on a spiritual path becomes aware of his or her own judgment about someone else, it’s a classic aha moment, an invitation to wake up. If that individual accepts the invitation to awaken to self-knowledge, he or she begins the work of personal healing. That’s because judgments often reveal more about the person judging than the one being judged. This experience is one of those times when it is essential to have the support of a trained spiritual guide capable of being a companion on the journey. You can find one at www.sdiworld.org.

A qualified spiritual companion could help you to be discerning, not judgmental. Discernment is a process of discovering your authentic self and your spiritual call. The more you know and accept yourself, the more you understand that all human beings are in formation. Some of us participate fully in being formed in the spirit and some, perhaps not. But, ultimately, that’s God’s business, not our own. So practice discernment instead of acting on your judgments. In the process you will learn that it is simple to establish boundaries without announcing or attaching a judgment to the action. And, yes, it is judgmental to say: “When you (fill in the blank), I feel (fill in the blank). Try leaving the “you” out of whatever must be said.

Here’s an example: “I feel hurt when I am left waiting, despite an agreed-upon time to meet.” It’s not easy learning to speak this way, and it’s difficult to do it in the heat of a disagreement. But with practice, it is possible. And it will definitely ease your interactions with others.

I’m sick of bicyclists who won’t share the road safely with cars. The other day, I was backing out of a friend’s driveway, when a cyclist swerved behind me, laughing with glee as I slammed on my brakes to avoid hitting him. He had no helmet and could have been seriously injured. He seemed to think it was a thrill of some kind. I think cyclists should have to get and carry licenses just like drivers of other vehicles. What do you think?

It’s a two-way street! I’ve seen drivers so disengaged that they have nearly hit cyclists, and cyclists who behave as if a motor vehicle is just part of an obstacle course. Licensing cyclists is not the answer, though. What we need is a national conversation on how to get along with each other. We need compassion, not competition on our roads.

Meditation of the Week

According to the Talmud, at any time there are 36 righteous people in the world without whom the world would end. I learned about the Tzadikim Nistarim at the funeral of Sister Sheila Walsh, founder of Jericho, an interfaith lobbying organization focused on the needs of those living in poverty. Sheila was said to be one of the 36. What are you doing with your life?