“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
(whether or not Whitman said this, it is still a quote to heed.)