The third, and perhaps most difficult step, is to stop judging people. It is both simple, and tough to master.
Behavior When you see someone else who is behaving in a way that distresses you, say to yourself, “I understand that you are in pain.” You will probably say this silently to yourself, but allow yourself to really understand that the person who is behaving in a way that bothers you is doing so because they are in fear and pain.
Appearance When you judge something about anyone’s appearance or behavior, you stop and say silently to yourself, “You are lovable. You are perfect just as you are. You are fundamentally a valuable person.” When you behave badly, you say the same things to yourself. Acknowledge your own pain, and tell yourself that you are lovable, perfect just as you are, and valuable. If you remember something you judge, do the same. If you are alone and able to say these things out loud, that might help.
Practice When I first started practicing this in earnest, I first came up with the phrase, “There is nothing here to judge; this person is just like me.” I sometimes still add it to my other statements. Consciously practicing acceptance combated my ego’s urging to place religious, social, moral, and belief-driven thoughts on others. It moved me out of the mindset I grew up with. It felt like I had to repeat that phrase almost every second. Everything I saw, I judged. Becoming aware of how often my go-to mind set was that of making people into “the other” so I could distance myself and justify poor treatment of them, even if the poor treatment was only mental, was humbling.
After a year of doing this practice, the incidence of the thoughts decreased quite a bit, but I still had to be on guard. The judgments got deeper. Superficial judgments gave way to more subtle ones. I sometimes did not realize them immediately, and had to go back later and remind myself there was nothing there to judge. Then I had to go back through my past, reminding myself that those who have hurt me were nothing to judge; they were just like me.
Go Back Through Time Then I did the same thing throughout history. The ego kicked and screamed many times during this process. My definition of who I was did not include genocide, rape, murder, child abuse, animal cruelty and so on. So, when I firmly said, “they are just like me”, the resistance was immense. Often war broke out in my mind. I would step back from my thoughts and watch them race around. There would be denial, rebuttal, angry ranting, but eventually the inner voices would run out of steam under my scrutiny. I would firmly state again my mantra. “There is nothing here to judge. They are just like me. They are intrinsically lovable and valuable.” This practice will rapidly lesson your mind’s need to label and judge.
Fear: The Cause of Pain Actions that we consider to be wrong, bad, socially inept, hurtful, or evil stem from a common root cause: fear. Look at small hurts or large, and the root of them is fear. Fear leads people into the trap of demonizing others, using them, or hurting them. This then leads to pain and suffering. Knowing this can help you quickly get to the root of why people do what they do: they are afraid. Knowing this can also help you to identify with a person who is behaving in a harmful way. Can you remember behaving badly when you were afraid?
You can’t act out of fear and out of love at the same time. Acceptance of others as they are and understanding that they are just like you eliminates fear and changes the way that you treat every person.
You might ask, how does all this help me break free? Well, cultural programming holds all of us in thrall. Judging is a huge program that controls every area of our lives. If you can break free of judgement, you will also break free of all the limitations that come with it. You will be writing your own story, rather than allowing social norms to write the story for you.
Next week: Cheat Code 4