Why do we judge so much? And why do we think that it’s OK?

Yoga has taught me to work on my judgemental mind. And I don’t say that lightly. I practice this daily and it’s not simple. A good friend/mentor of mine says “the human mind is a cesspit” – that makes me laugh but I get it. Watch your thoughts for just one hour and notice how judgemental you may be, notice if you do some of this: “ooh she’s fat, what the hell is he wearing? She shouldn’t be eating that; look at the state of her! She said this or he said that… And that’s about others; I haven’t even started on your inner voice: “Aaaargh I’ve put on weight, I’m getting old, I shouldn’t have said that; she’s prettier than me, I’m an idiot, I drank too much… it goes on and on. Give it a try.

Subconscious programming comes from day one; I believe we’ve been conditioned to make subjective judgements about every little thing. Think about how you get up as just one moment in your day; how you get out of bed, the style of your bed, type of mattress, pillow case material, your “trendy” throw, carpet underfoot, down to the toothbrush you use are all based on your value system and your judgement of what’s right in the world.

But who said what’s right? (And do you want to be right or be happy? Something I now live by). Have you ever examined where your judgements come from? How did you know that particular throw was the one to buy? And why does it all matter so bloody much in the first place? Can’t take any of it with you. And yet in our world it does matter… or so it seems.

Why do we think we have the right to judge others – and ourselves? Who gave us that right? I like the expression, people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, as I believe that none of us have the right to judge others and none of us know what’s round the corner or how we might behave in different circumstances until we’re in them.

If we’re making judgements then it dictates we’ll look to things or others to validate them. I think material things have become our validators. How many of us if we really got honest with ourselves have equated our “worth” – our place in the world – by our job, the amount of money we have, the size of our house, the stuff in it, holidays we afford; what we look like (and that’s a whole “nother blog); or friends we aspire to. Attaining wealth is the holy grail. What we get paid for our identity.

Judgements are necessary, we are animal, we need them to survive and we judge in order to organise our place in the world. Yet I see a society now so dominated by the global powers I wonder how many of our judgements are in fact our own and how many are based on what’s been fed to us via advertising, magazines, internet, social media, TV, books or what our parents taught us, what a school teacher told us we could – or could not – be.

So how the hell do we really know WHO we are? What we really believe in or what’s right for us? Where is our own sense of “self”? I think most people don’t have a clue who they are and are journeying along the hamster wheel of life trying to work stuff out, awaiting retirement as some sort of nirvana. The truth is – and I’m sorry to be depressing – people ignore their health at the expense of building wealth then retire and suffer ill health throughout retirement reaching the end full of regret.

I’m determined not to live my life like that. I’ve made a pact to live it NOW.

I believe the image projected to us perpetuates a cruel & negative take on the world. Just look at women’s mags, so many adopt a harshly critical, cruel stance on women, with an airbrushed reality. Basing their sales on that sick, voyeuristic part of ourselves that dines out on looking at a celebrity’s wobbly bits, sending them to the guillotine (OH MY GOD!) for a fashion faux pas or looking older than two.

To judge others is encouraged – revered even – we’re being TAUGHT to do it, it’s a sport, an amusing past-time — are we surprised then when our daughter’s feel constantly insecure and teen eating disorders have increased by more than 50% in the last 10 years? (A shocking statistic in a recent Sunday Times article). Judging has become habitual behaviour. Apparently we have about 60,000 thoughts a day – so how would one feel if 90% of those thoughts are negative, critical and judgemental?

We all have a role to play, and I’m getting my accountability in the things I do and say. In Yoga this is karma – understanding that for every action, every decision there is a result. There is great power in that and we would do well to to understand it more.

I can judge up there with the best of them and I can be particularly hard on myself; but I’m learning it doesn’t help me one bit. Yoga has taught me to consistently review my judgemental mind and switch to a compassionate, forgiving state of being. Ahimsa – one of the Yamas and Niyamas – is a code us yogis follow – it’s about leading a life of non harming, non judgement – “non violence in thought, word and deed”. So we work on this as an ongoing process, right down to examining the food we eat. I’ve found it interesting as I have engaged less in gossip – which is slander if you think about it – and the result has sometimes been that I’ve been “left out” for behaving differently.

I know how it feels to be judged, we all do right? When I was 15 life was really tough for me and through that I lost friends who judged me; understandable we were teenagers but very painful for a young girl who knew nothing about the world. I take pains today to help anyone who I feel is being unfairly judged.

As the years have passed & the more I’ve followed the yogic path I’ve gravitated to the least judgemental, more accepting types – the live and let live people. Moving away from certain groups has meant I have been judged for these changes. In fact I’m not a conformist and that has consequences, but I won’t change that; it’s my father in me.

To be fair such values run deep, as a daughter of socialist parents who wanted to change the world in my small way I’m changing it too. My parents taught me not to be rude, not to be cruel, ignorant or judge people by their colour, creed or sexual orientation. I take pains today to get to know people, to understand them, to listen deeply when they tell me about themselves. To give them value.

Yoga reinforces this, it says we’re all one, no-one has more value than the other. Tony Robbins (look him up, you won’t be disappointed), says humans spend their time oscillating between feeling “less than” or “better than” others i.e. we either compare ourselves and believe we aren’t as good as someone or make ourselves feel superior by judging them. Yet this leaves us in a perpetual state of unrest; not a pleasant mental or emotional state to be in.

So I invite you to learn to live life with compassion. Practice every day being compassionate to others and to yourself instead of judging. Look out for your judgements, laugh at them, become the observer, be kind, be forgiving. If I’m angry with myself or another I often repeat this mantra: “forgive them lord they know not what they do”.

See how much richer your relationships are when you become more forgiving, see how you shift into a state of joy, love, contentment and even bliss when you step out of judgement and into “letting go”.

Deep down we all want to connect; we all want to feel connected, not separate – I believe it’s this separateness that’s the root of our unhappiness – compassion is the fastest route, to connect with your true self and to connect with others.

So take some time out of your day – every day – to sit, to breathe, to let go; maybe learn about the vastness of yoga. Take time to connect with your true self through stillness away from the opinions of the world (this is meditation) then get up and go and give someone you’ve judged a big heartfelt hug.