I didn’t realize just how many judgments I tune out on a daily basis. Now that I’m aware of them, there’s an awful lot of chatter in my brain. And much of it is not nice.
The dishwasher is a pain in my butt for not working properly. The Whole Foods staff are inconsiderate for not keeping the gluten-free pizza crust I like in stock. The people commenting on the article about the opening day of the Breastfeeding Cafe are largely ignorant, rude, or just weird. The customer service people at my health insurance company are inept (or obstructionist). The weather is too hot and too humid. The stuff that came in the mail today is all crap. The couple at the gym tonight who wouldn’t stop holding hands were sickening. I won’t say what I thought about the driver of the Hummer with the vanity plate CPTLST, nor will I detail all of the negative things I’ve thought about myself.
It wasn’t all negative, though. There were a number of things I labeled “adorable”: the quail family crossing the street, my daughter calling tater tots “teeter totters,” my baby son rolling on the floor and laughing every time I asked, “Are you going to wrestle, Pudding Cake?” I found the afternoon rain showers refreshing. My workout tonight was invigorating. Getting three loads of laundry done was satisfying.
But positive or negative, it’s all judgment. Is all judgment bad? I don’t plan on pursuing an answer to this question because my focus this month isn’t on making a judgment about judgmental thinking. My resolution this month is simply to observe and be aware when I make judgments. So far, during the observing of my judgmental thoughts, I’ve found that when I make a negative judgment, I feel constricted, angry, hopeless. When I make a positive judgment, I feel warm and expansive. Does that mean it’s OK to make positive judgments? I’m not sure whether the judging comes first and then the physical and emotional reaction, or if the judging is a result of the physical and emotional reaction. If I stop judging negatively, will I stop the negative physical and emotional reactions? Or will I still have the negative reactions and just think something different and non-judgmental as a result? And if I do the latter, will the non-judgmental thoughts result in a positive physical or emotional reaction? Will any change in my judgments help me feel happier?
If I didn’t judge, what would I think instead? Would my brain be quieter, or would there be a different collection of thoughts in place of the judgments? It was suggested to me today that the opposite of judgment was empathy. Is that true? Is replacing judgment with empathy something to which I should strive? The closest I can imagine right now is replacing judgment with simple observation. “Oh, look. Someone left their car running while they ran into the grocery store.” “Hmm, the driver ahead of me is talking on his cell phone and eating an apple while driving.” (Huh. I seem to think a lot about people and their cars.)
Luckily, my focus this month isn’t on changing my judgmental thinking, either. I think I’ve got all I can handle with increasing my awareness.