“How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.” Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free
True story. I’m waiting in line at the grocery store. Do I count? You bet I did. I was counting the items the woman had placed on the conveyer as the cashier rang them up. There had to be 25 or 30 items. The nerve! The sign above the cashier clearly stated EXPRESS LANE – 15 ITEMS OR LESS. Boy! Did I have a good time judging and criticizing her. Not aloud of course. I was judge and jury in the confines of my mind. How inconsiderate of her!
A moment later another clerk, standing at a vacant register waved me over, I dutifully wheeled my cart to her lane, thanked her and began unloading my 25 or 30 items. Then I looked up at the sign above the register EXPRESS LANE – 15 ITEMS OR LESS. I looked at the cashier, and pointed to my items. “That’s OK,” she said. As long as no one is in line you’re welcome to bring as many items as you wish. Whew! A “get out of jail free card.” Then it happened, someone stepped in behind me looked at me and…you guessed it…counted. Damn.
“While you judge me by my outward appearance I am silently doing the same to you, even though there’s a ninety-percent chance that in both cases our assumptions are wrong.” Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse & Grumblings for Every Day of the Year
I am compelled to ask myself, “How much of my valuable time, time I’ll never have to spend again, do I squander in the self-righteous judgment of others? Answer: Way too much. I spend far too much time counting the perceived character defects of others, and not enough wondering about their story, or taking inventory of my own shortcomings.
And as sit in their jury box, were I to ask myself, “How are feeling right now, Tom?” I would have to respond, in all honesty, “Crappy.” Then why do it? Why judge others? I dunno. I suppose some kind of superiority payback. “I’m much better than them, I don’t do that.” Yeah, sure.
And I don’t have to know why I do something in order to change my behavior. What if, instead of criticizing, I were curious? What if, when moved to judging others, I became curious about their story? “I wonder why this guy is tailgating me? I wonder if he’s in a hurry because of his wife is having a baby? I’ll just move over and let him pass me and wish him well along the way.” That feels better!
There’s so much to judge out there. Like someone with multiple body piercings, green and orange hair, ugly (in my opinion) tattoos, a beater car, unruly kids, people of another race, or ethnicity, loud people, people who don’t stand up for themselves, overbearing people, people who don’t work hard, people who work too hard…the list goes on.
Honestly, I don’t engage in judging others nearly as often as the impression I’m conveying here. Admittedly, however, there are moments that others aren’t safe walking down the streets of my mind.
Time to change. Time to become curious. Instead of judging, accept and wonder. Wonder how their day is going. Wonder about the hardships they’ve overcome and the successes they’ve enjoyed.
“Perhaps, if you weren’t so busy regarding my shortcomings, you’d find that I do possess redeeming qualities, discreet as they may be. I notice when the sky is blue. I smile down at children. I laugh at any innocent attempt at humor. I quietly carry the burdens of others as though they were my own. And I say ‘I’m sorry’ when you don’t. I am not without fault, but I am not without goodness either.” Richelle E Goodrich, Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, & Grumblings for Every Day of the Year
How I judge others says far more about me than it does about them. I sense my judgments are an out-picturing of my own insecurities, my doubts and my worries.
So from here on out, I’m curious. I’m accepting that what I see in others is a mirror for how I view myself. I’ll ask myself, “What am I seeing in them, that I would rather not see in myself? Then change my focus from them to me. That’s where it belongs.
“On the road to success there is absolutely no room for criticism of self or others. Insecurity and fear masquerade as jealousy and judgment. Finding faults in others wastes time as we attempt to remove the bricks from other people’s foundations – time that could be better spent building our own. And worrying about what other people think about us also wastes the time that could be better spent expanding upon what we have built.” Alaric Hutchinson, Living Peace