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Case dismissed; non-judgemental thinking

Please preside as judge and juror of this familiar scene from life. A scene that we can all probably relate to and yet something that is quite revealing of ourselves.

The scene begins at around 9:30am on a weekday morning, it was a really warm day for southern England in July (around 30 degrees), the day had a spotless blue sky, it was school summer holidays and the coffee shop was near the coast. The object of this scene was a parent sat at a table in a local coffee shop, a man who looked in his early thirties. A man who was seemingly buried in his iPad. He had two young children with him, a girl of probably 8 years and a boy around 6 years. Like him, they were also buried in technology watching some YouTube video. They did not really talk much or engage.

A judgement seemed fairly obvious to me and my gavel fell sharply as I made my verdict, ‘What a bad and dysfunctional family they must be.’ But wait! The man was me, I was the parent and they were my kids, and we are far from dysfunctional.

This occasion got me thinking about how quick we make judgements of others, how quick I am to judge and that if I had witnessed myself in similar circumstances, then perhaps I would have judged myself poorly. Perhaps I was being overly sensitive, but a few people queuing casually glanced at me and my offspring with cold looks of disapproval. We were definitely disheveled, unbrushed hair and dressed in shorts and t-shirts, me included.

The reality was, we were camping in a nearby eco-ish campsite, secluded in the woods, we had no internet nor power for technology. I confess to needed a morning coffee, of that I am guilty, so this coffee shop served a dual purpose of letting me have my coffee and my darlings could have 45 minutes on their beloved DanDTM or clumsy ninja before we had our full day of activity. We were having a wonderful family time, just the three of us. We had been to a theme park and made campfire food the day before; as Londoners it was great for them to experience the rawness of camping a bit wild. The day in question we were going to an adventure centre then the beach. All rare experiences for my big city dwellers. These 45 minutes were but a brief moment and a tiny piece of civilisation for us all.

So the reality was very far from the perception. For all the world we must have looked dysfunctional, on a gorgeous day, away in a pretty town, a parent and two children, lost in technology. On a bad day, I might have made that judgement myself.

What I took from this little moment was that I should not judge people too quickly. I should probably not judge at all as its nearly impossible to know a thing from a brief encounter. All I can really know from meeting a situation is my prejudice and preconceptions about the situation, never the situation as it is. Giving time and space might allow the situation to reveal itself but more than likely it will just pass away and I will be left none the wiser about the nature of the situation. So, since I cannot accurately judge what I cannot know I will make more of an effort not to judge things so fast, but to let them unfold if the choose or simply blow away in the wind as a mystery.

So why not join me with a goal to practice non-judgement a little more? It involves putting our judgemental thoughts aside in a situation and finding a peaceful spaciousness to just witness events. Even if it’s just once or twice a day, it’s a little practice towards a more open and objectively real world.

106 Comments »

  1. I have seen people judging parents. Even people who have never been parents do not mind judging parents. Personally, there are a lot of times when I catch and try to stop myself judging others, but I am always filled with awe when parenthood comes into question. Hats off to you, for the wonderful post and for everything you do for you children.

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  2. I have seen people judging parents. Even people who have never been parents do not mind judging parents. Personally, there are a lot of times when I catch and try to stop myself judging others, but I am always filled with awe when parenthood comes into question. Hats off to you, for the wonderful post and for everything you do for you children.

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  3. I am a first-born, type A, perfect melancholy personality person. I was born to observe, analyze and make judgments. Working as a nurse, it was necessary for me to make judgments based on my observations. So NOT being judgmental is VERY difficult for me! Since it comes to me naturally, I don’t always realize that I am doing it. I know that being judgmental can cause problems so I am trying really hard to work on correcting that aspect of me. I like your comment about not being able to judge those things that we cannot know, so just let it go. Blessings

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  4. I am a first-born, type A, perfect melancholy personality person. I was born to observe, analyze and make judgments. Working as a nurse, it was necessary for me to make judgments based on my observations. So NOT being judgmental is VERY difficult for me! Since it comes to me naturally, I don’t always realize that I am doing it. I know that being judgmental can cause problems so I am trying really hard to work on correcting that aspect of me. I like your comment about not being able to judge those things that we cannot know, so just let it go. Blessings

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  5. I once had a couple of friends who idolized “Beveis & Butthead”. And sure enough, every one but they were lame, gay, or stupid. My sister married a man who taught her the same trick. Put everyone down to feel better about yourself. I think most people look at others as competition. To me competition is an excuse to be absolutely shitty towards another and get away with it. Thank you for reading my rants and ramblings. My kids are obsessed with Youtube also. I just try to keep them from watching the really disturbing vids. But we engage with each other too. Everyone needs some time to themselves once in a while. I know I do or I would have the peace to explore my mind, and follow wondering thoughts.

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  6. I once had a couple of friends who idolized “Beveis & Butthead”. And sure enough, every one but they were lame, gay, or stupid. My sister married a man who taught her the same trick. Put everyone down to feel better about yourself. I think most people look at others as competition. To me competition is an excuse to be absolutely shitty towards another and get away with it. Thank you for reading my rants and ramblings. My kids are obsessed with Youtube also. I just try to keep them from watching the really disturbing vids. But we engage with each other too. Everyone needs some time to themselves once in a while. I know I do or I would have the peace to explore my mind, and follow wondering thoughts.

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  7. a lovely reminder that we all dwell in a fallible existence. as much as we demand justice, we also hope for grace and mercy. let us be the ones to show grace and mercy in the face of injustice, en route to peace and sustainable joy – that is my simple hope…

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  8. a lovely reminder that we all dwell in a fallible existence. as much as we demand justice, we also hope for grace and mercy. let us be the ones to show grace and mercy in the face of injustice, en route to peace and sustainable joy – that is my simple hope…

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  9. Hi Simon Thanks for stopping by!

    What an interesting and timely story. Today I found myself judging my co- workers (because they were passing judgement on a customer rather harshly) and I was playing the devil’s advocate to give the customer benefit of the doubt but at the same time I was judging them for being so judgemental (Man that’s a mouthful!) and then my co-workers was adamant that I should agree with them on their judgement of said customer… it was all a bit sad…

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  10. Hi Simon Thanks for stopping by!

    What an interesting and timely story. Today I found myself judging my co- workers (because they were passing judgement on a customer rather harshly) and I was playing the devil’s advocate to give the customer benefit of the doubt but at the same time I was judging them for being so judgemental (Man that’s a mouthful!) and then my co-workers was adamant that I should agree with them on their judgement of said customer… it was all a bit sad…

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  11. We’re definitely all guilty of this. I always have to remind myself that everyone is on their own path and everything is unfolding exactly as it’s supposed to. Your pieces are very thoughtful. 🙂

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  12. We’re definitely all guilty of this. I always have to remind myself that everyone is on their own path and everything is unfolding exactly as it’s supposed to. Your pieces are very thoughtful. 🙂

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  13. Thank you for sharing your story, and reminding us of how easily we might judge others, but we actually don’t know anything about what we are judging.
    My best wishes for you and your family! 🙂

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    • Thanks Elen, my life is a work in progress and a labour of love that will never be finished. I am trying to practice non-judgement, and perhaps thankfully the world gives us many opportunities to practice. I recall a wise Buddhist master once saying that “the most difficult people in life are the greatest teachers”, tolerance, non-judgement, compassion, etc. If I struggle sometimes with right thoughts, I can at least practice right speech and actions. Namaste!

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  14. Thank you for sharing your story, and reminding us of how easily we might judge others, but we actually don’t know anything about what we are judging.
    My best wishes for you and your family! 🙂

    Like

    • Thanks Elen, my life is a work in progress and a labour of love that will never be finished. I am trying to practice non-judgement, and perhaps thankfully the world gives us many opportunities to practice. I recall a wise Buddhist master once saying that “the most difficult people in life are the greatest teachers”, tolerance, non-judgement, compassion, etc. If I struggle sometimes with right thoughts, I can at least practice right speech and actions. Namaste!

      Like

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