Here is a phrase I hear a lot… “Don’t judge”…
Sometimes it’s in a half joking way “I’ve just fed the kids wheatbix for dinner. Don’t judge me”…
But it’s also out there, doing the rounds on facebook, usually a photo and a quote along the lines of “don’t judge a woman till you’ve walked a mile in her shoes”, often with a thousand ‘likes’.
Can I make a confession? I judge people all the time. Every day. Why? Because I’m a human being. And human beings judge. Human Beings see things through filters. Human Beings make assumptions.
We are programed to judge. I’m not going to get too scientific here (mostly because I’m just guessing) but I imagine the human instinct to judge derives from our cave dwelling ancestors. Cave women probably made quick judgements to assess risk;
“That woman is so fat! She must be eating all the food! We’d better keep an eye on her or there will be nothing to feed the children! Ugh!”
The type of judgements we make have probably evolved somewhat since those days, but our natural instinct to judge has not.
I distinctly remember witnessing a harrarrsed looking mother yelling at her tantrum throwing toddler in the middle of the supermarket. My newborn baby was fast asleep in her pram, I remember gazing down at her peaceful face and smugly thinking ‘Oh you’ll never behave like that will you darling’.
Two years later when I found myself in the same supermarket trying to prise my own toddler off the floor I realised my mistake.
In the same way that you sometimes react to a situation with anger and then later realise that you over reacted, snap judgements are hard to control. Telling people not to judge is like asking a baby not to cry.
So go ahead and feel free to judge as much as you like.
But… and this is a big but (…rather like my own) when you have drawn your conclusions, take a step back. Consider where your judgements have come from. Ask yourself; are there are any circumstances in which you may do the same thing?
At the end of the day we don’t know the whole story, and while it’s totally normal to judge, it’s not ok to give those judgements a voice. Always remember … ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’