The Benefit of Resisting the Urge to Judge

Aug 23, 2021

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“Yet, if we can outlast the urge to judge everything we encounter, a miracle starts to surround us in which painting, music, poetry, running water, flowers, wind through the trees, open vistas—all touch and draw out their counterpart that lives quietly within us.” —Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

To observe. To witness. That is all we need to do.

The urge to judge can stem from many places unhealed or unattended to within us, but whenever the urge occurs, if we are self-aware, we have the opportunity in the ceasing to pass judgment to instead look to what needs our attention within ourselves and begin the healing that ultimately will elevate the quality of our lives.

Many of life’s most grounded truths have revealed themselves to me in hindsight. Only now, or in the past two years at the most, have I begun to realize where my own judgment stemmed. Unsettled, not honoring or able to honor something I knew to be true about what I wanted to share with the world but couldn’t understand enough as to how to do it in order to act upon, when we are frustrated with our own place in our life journey, the judgment arises. Unconsciously, we are trying to soothe ourselves, but judging others will never ease what can only be accomplished by being gentle with ourselves and honoring where we are, letting go of the strangle-hold caused by expectations and appreciating all that is around us, the opportunities undiscovered until we become more mindful, more present.

Living in a world swirling with one competition after another, it seems ‘natural’ for competition to be part of being human, but not in a civilized world. No. In a civilized world, we can honor our strengths while applauding those of another without making it personal, doing our best in the moment the task arrives, and then learn from as well as celebrate all that occurred. Competition in the literal sense bleeds into so much of our lives – how we dress, the career path we’ve chosen, how much we make, at what age we [enter the life event society expects us to achieve]. But we have been conditioned to believe it is a necessity for living in our world.

While at the most base level of human existence, judging and competition arise unconsciously, contrarily, it is by living consciously that we catch ourselves and then are able to acknowledge why such a feeling has sprung to the forefront. At that time, we have the opportunity to strengthen our awareness and areas of growth by letting go of the judgment and looking within to heal ourselves.

The healing is a priceless gift to give ourselves. The benefit of resisting the urge to judge.

Our lives don’t become more fulfilling knowing we are ‘better’ than someone in one way or another. Temporarily, the winning, the belief we are ‘better’ may assuage our ego to know we have bested someone, but that ‘winner’s rush’ will fade, and another victory will be sought to accomplish. And if the ‘winning’ was of someone’s affection or anything outside of ourselves, we are clinging to something we have no control over, and again, we do ourselves a disservice, and we strangle what we think makes us more at peace. We are wrong.

In other words, it is a false promise that will never lead to contentment.

This is not to say, we cannot compete. The Olympics phenomenally represent the best of competition. Sportsmanship being the backbone of civilized gamesmanship. Establishing personal bests, revealing what an athlete is capable of and inspiring others who watch their amazing feats in arenas having nothing to do with sport.

Mark Nepo shares 19th-century poet Gerard Manley Hopkins’ concept of the inner terrain ‘inscape’.

“And just as no landscape can flourish without sun and water, our inscape must be irrigated and reached with many forms of life if we are to thrive.”

In other words, tend to your inner work – the work of healing yourself, getting to know yourself, accepting yourself, being kind to yourself, building your emotional intelligence, strengthening your self-awareness.

Judgment arises in us all, and usually during moments of discontent about any number of things; however, we can squelch it in its tracks as we will notice that it is a symptom of something we can address, and in so doing, the healing begins. And we grow, and we become more self-aware, and deepen our contentment in our everydays.

“Be curious, not judgmental.” —Walt Whitman



19 thoughts on “The Benefit of Resisting the Urge to Judge

  1. Wise words Shannon. ‘Empty vessels make the most noise’. People who judge do so because humility is lacking. This is a gift I think but with practice it can be acquired. xx

  2. Thank you Shannon, for the beautiful scene and wise words to wake up to. I’d never thought of judgment springing from a lack in our own lives, but it makes so much sense. I’d always thought it sprang from a feeling of superiority, but maybe that is only how it appears on the surface. It must actually be from a feeling of inferiority. How enlightening! If I sense these “urges” coming on, I now have these concepts to recall and turn it back inward and ask what is truly making me feel this way. I love that!

    1. Melissa,

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing all that you have. I think you described it well – ‘sprang from a feeling of superiority’. What you have shared I think is a common belief and when we think this, we are less likely to sympathize with the judger. Hopefully, the shift will help us humanize one another even more – the judger and what or who is being judged and should not be.

  3. Shannon, I have this book on my bedside table and my gadget, as I have loved Mr. Nero’s prose and content every morning! I thank you for recommending it…also, I realize that books of value from decades earlier still have current value!

    I love to cook, and have been enjoying Richard Olney’s book you reminded us of this month! Still so relevant. Thank you…..

    1. Joan, My pleasure! Such a wonderful book of exploration of the self. I find I can only read one entry, even though I may want or have time to read more, because I want to process all that he has shared.

      Thank you for the reminder to look at my Richard Olney cookbook! Such a talent and one to remind us to cook with the seasons. 🙂

  4. This is something I work on very hard, esp. now that I have an ex spouse. I aim to, when ASKED only, to give feedback in the form of questions about what do they think of whatever it is, what do they think it would be like if they choose plan b..this way I am leaving my judgement out of the equation. This actually ends up making me feel lighter, as sometimes when I found myself judging, I would emotionally or physically take on the task of “helping” them. I found that in judgement, we are sometimes actually just looking for approval of our own choices, it’s actually not about them or whatever we seem to be in judgement. I have also been finding that as I shed the feeling as though I need to live life based on what would make others happy, I judge less because to each their own is more at the forefront of my mind.

  5. There is a joke among my family and friends that I do not have a competitive bone in my body. That is mostly true. The other comment involves judgementalism. I grew up in a very competitive and judgemental environment and found it so stressful. Leaving that was like shedding a hair coat! Mark Nepo does indeed nudge us into thinking and feeling beyond the obvious, including assessing our judgemental nature.

  6. Thank you for this insight – I’m working on this currently (& daily). Self-examination is not always easy but is where growth and maturity lay.

  7. Thank you so much Shannon. This was a much needed message today and very enlightening. I look forward to contemplating on the concept and also treated myself to the book. You bring such light, peace and calm into our lives at a time that it is needed greatly. Much appreciated.

    1. Shauna,

      Thank you for stopping by. 🙂 Such a post or entry in Nepo’s book is something I need to read from time to time just to serve as a reminder. Thank you for your kind words as well.

  8. So beautiful! Your thoughts bring to mind the ongoing quest ~ these aren’t the perfect words, but something akin to humility with confidence. Deep generosity of spirit with deep self care and self love. These balanced qualities weren’t nurtured from the start, at least not for me.

    Humility came easily growing up, and non-competitiveness was also innate, but these qualities were encouraged alongside unspoken shame, self-criticism, and an inner voice of self doubt.
    I’m grateful to my core for mentors and experiences which helped me work on the journey towards a more beautiful inner and outer life ~ and the work goes on!! Your lovely post is a nudge to re-center, thank you, thank you! 💕

  9. I love this post. I think we all fall into that terrible habit of judging others sometimes and I do try to challenge myself when I find myself doing it. I agree that inner work is the answer to discontent that finds us drawn to pass judgment on others. I’m reminded of the – rather modern reference – scene in Mean Girls when Lindsay Lohan’s character realised that judging the way her maths competition rival looks will not make her any more able to beat her in the competition. Water your own grass, then it shan’t be greener elsewhere.
    Great reminder for self improvement, as always, thank you Shannon

  10. Grrr this is something I’ve been working with all year! Likely I’ll be working on it the rest of my
    life but decided one day that when a judgmental thought popped up I must immediately find a compliment to utter (all this in my head
    of course); a work in progress

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