January: Why People Judge
I'm in the early throes of reading Gabrielle Bernstein's new book Judgment Detox and feel SO STRONGLY about some of the truths she's shared that it would be silly of me not to extend them to you.
I am less than 30 pages into the book, and will therefore only be giving you some snippets (and in some instances my thoughts)—which I feel is best, as I'd be out of line to spill all the gems tucked into the author's hard (heart) work.
All the quotes below are from Gabby's book, followed by my two cents and some reflection prompts in italics.
"We get a quick hit of self-righteousness when we judge others. It's a reliable little crutch when we feel hurt, insecure, or vulnerable. Our judgments towards others seem to make us feel better than them—smarter, savvier, more enlightened, healthier, or wealthier."
Do you ever get a "high" when you post a better-than-thou photo on social media? Is it ever subconsciously in response to feeling crappy about somebody else's post? Highs may also come from silent judgmental thoughts; something as simple as thinking "I would never" in response to someone you see, for their appearance, behavior, or otherwise.
Often those highs come crashing down into lower lows. When we do or say things that are out of alignment with the loving person we know we were created as, energy is zapped and an unsettling feeling grows in our gut. Chances are we do not investigate that ill-feeling to its core, and instead chase the next quick feel-better fix. Unfortunately that often means more judgment, which begins a downward spiral and perpetuating cycle of judgment.
"My definition of judgment for this book is pretty straightforward: separation from love."
Think of a time you've judged somebody. I, for example, have found myself becoming judgmental about the things some people prioritize, or the relationships they choose, or what political parties they support. In all of those instances, I now realize I was trying to create distance between me and them. This distance is not only a separation from love and seeing all people as worthy of love no matter their personal values, but it also reflects greatly on my personal insecurities—things I judge myself for, or have been judged for by others.
"While we all have different stories that caused us to separate from love, we all have the same response to feeling alone in the world: fear. Separating from love is a traumatic event, and when we're traumatized, we feel unsafe. One way we respond to that feeling of fear is to fight back through attacking and judging of others. It's an attempt to build ourselves up and lean on judgment as our great protector."
Your traumatic "separation from love" story may have happened in your childhood, because of an incident with someone close to you, or something more recently, triggered by a stranger. Can you think of possible scenarios that might have made you feel "less than" and turned your love into shame, fear, sadness, or anger? Something a parent or teacher did or didn't do, perhaps. A failed relationship or friendship. A snide comment or a disapproving look.
Reflecting on painful experiences takes courage, but when it is part of your quest to understand yourself better and to become better, difficult revisiting can be a wonderful example of self-care. If you are able, sit with difficult memories and try to trace any judgmental responses that may have stemmed from them.
"We try to find relief in someone else, choosing to believe another person can 'complete' us, and projecting our guilt onto them."
Guilty as charged. Gabby calls these people our "special relationships".
"Whomever you've made special will inevitably disappoint you in some way. Their ego will always shine through (they are human, after all) and you'll be left frustrated and alone. This experiences reinforces the devastation of the initial feelings of separation. In response to this desolation, you'll judge the special person for not being who you thought (or hoped) they were. When your idol falls, you fall with them. Whenever we believe anyone to be the source of our happiness or pain, we ultimately project our guilt onto them and begin the judgment cycle."
I grabbed my journal when I got to this part of the book and listed all of the "special relationships" I could think of, how I felt disappointed by them, and the judgment that stemmed from that let-down.
WHAT A CATHARTIC AND ENLIGHTENING EXERCISE.
You think you can give it a try? I can't think of a better way to start 2018—with clarity, and lightness; things we at She Talks Asia constantly wish for all of you!
Let me know if you find similar or different results. E-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org