Did you know that several languages have no word for judgment? It seems almost impossible in a society where judgment is forced on us daily in marketing, politics, relationships, food, and most especially ourselves—all those things that are supposedly wrong with us, that need to be medicated, therapized, nipped and tucked, self-improved…need I go on? We are a society obsessed with judging, and since a judgment carried more emotional heft than a regular thought, we are a society imprisoned by our judgments. What would it be like if, like in some of these other languages, a thought that had an opinion or a preference, was just another thought, to be adopted or discarded as easily as the opinion of whether to wear the red or the purple socks with your jeans? How freeing would that be?
The interesting thing about judgment is that when someone judges you, they are trying to shrink you into a cage the size of their allowable perceptions—to fit cozily into their world view. It’s your choice to step into the cage and lock the door behind you or to shake it off and be the big, audacious you that you want to be. Shaking it off, or simply not accepting the judgment is easy when it’s not a bar in your own cage. Like if someone judged you to be an inadequate dancer and you don’t give a hoot how you dance, you just like to move. When something like that happens, it’s easy to see that the judger is acting out of her own limitation. It’s actually funny, it’s so ridiculous. But when one of the bars of your own cage has the need to be thought of as a good dancer, then the judgment can be withering—shrinking you enough to fit into their cage. And when you diminish yourself to fit into a cage of someone else’s judgments, then you then they can control you. Yikes, right? Who wants to live like that?
Judgment works that way when you judge yourself, too. Say you get a mite too free and start whirling in bliss on the beach, as I saw a woman do a few weeks ago. And it feels so good as you let out that inner dervish. But then it occurs to you that other people—your friends, your boss, people who count in your life—might see you, and what would they think? So you judge yourself back into the compliant little beach walker that doesn’t stick out. You shut down your bliss, shrivel your joy, and fir back into that cage that keeps you small and living within the lines that society draws for you.
What would it be like if that sort of self-shriveling wasn’t even part of your language—and therefor had never entered into your psyche as a concept? How would your life be different it, when you had a thought that expanded you, you stepped right into that expansion and shattered the bars that had kept you a smaller you? You can. First step is to notice for the next week or so all the judgments that you make of you and others, and reflect on why you make them. Also notice all the judgments that people out on you—or try to put on you—remember, it’s always your choice how to respond. And notice how you react to these judgments—which ones make you feel smaller, which do you react against, which have no effect at all, and which are so ridiculous that they make you laugh. Once you really get how judgment works in you, you are much better able to stop judging yourself and others, and even better, stop climbing the myriad cages that the people around you try to put you in.
The best part is, once you stop accepting other people’s judgments for long enough, they stop judging you because it is exhausting to judge someone who won’t play along.
Try it. It works!