Check your judgment meter before it’s on empty.
Good judgment is based on our ability to form an opinion objectively and with some knowledge and insight.
However, often our judgments are based on everything except objectivity, knowledge or fact.
This was certainly the case with me on a recent trip to the supermarket when I noticed a young woman on her cellphone.
That day, my judgment meter was running on empty.
One of the things that will drain my judgment meter is seeing someone talking on a cellphone in public places. It seems everywhere I look someone is on a cell phone. And I often judge them to be rude, inconsiderate and uncaring individuals. I have no interest in hearing the details of last night’s argument with a spouse, or idle gossip about neighbors or friends. So when I see someone on a cellphone in public, I decide right then that these individuals as “inconsiderate” and rude.
And, just when my judgment meter approached a dangerously low level, I overheard the woman on her cellphone say loudly, “Oh, no!… what hospital? I’ll be right there”.
Now here was something more plausible than the judgment story I had created in my head. It appeared there was some crisis in this woman’s life.
How quick I had been to judge her – make assumptions about her phone call, her life, and her motives – without any knowledge of her whatsoever.
I wanted my deflated judgment to slink off to the nearest corner to hide my face in shame.
I wondered how many other times had I made a quick judgment about someone or a situation only to discover later that I was way off base?
Here was an “Aha” moment that I hadn’t expected:
I recognized that situations are not always what they appear to be at first glance.
I realized that my thoughts determine my reactions to others.
I learned to take time to assess my own assumptions and level of acceptance.
“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” ~Pema Chodron
So if you find your judgment meter slipping to a low level, consider these options first:
- Be willing to acknowledge that you don’t know all the details. I may think it’s rude to talk on a cell phone in public but that doesn’t mean others share my reality.
- Accept that others have a different reality from yours. Just because something doesn’t sit well with you does not mean it’s not working for the other person.
- Give others the benefit of the doubt before you judge and create a “story” about them and their motives. Consider that you may lack knowledge that could make a difference in what you think.
- Check your own thoughts and behaviors before you judge someone else. Are you guilty of the thing that you find most annoying? Have you ever used your phone at a checkout line, at a concert or in another public place?
- Make sure you have some facts to back up your judgment. Your judgments aren’t always (hardly ever) right. A judgment is an opinion you form without any concrete evidence to support it.
- Explore your own beliefs and assumptions to gain greater awareness and acceptance of yourself and others. Use moments of judgment to reflect on your level of discomfort so that you are not giving others permission to push your buttons.