Stop Judging

Stop JudgingI was feeling quite frustrated and down just the other day.  I had been looking for job and trying to relocate for the better part of eight months, each time hitting a wall and being disappointed.  Many other things in my life are deviating from the plan I had envisioned.  You know that old saying, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.”

We all have our fantasies.  If I can just get out of here, then I can start my real life.  This is just a temporary thing.  The hard truth of it is, where I am, what I am doing (or not doing), the condition of it all…well, this is my life.  So, we must make the best of a situation.  Yet, in our journey we still constantly face disappointments.

Feeling down, I came home to find, on top of my latest rejection notice for a job for which I just had a phone screen, that my Internet was once again down.  I was hoping to apply for a few more jobs before going to the gym.  Better to use that energy for something productive than to sit around and mope.

Or so I thought.

That was the proverbial straw that broke my back.  I texted my friend to blow off a little steam.

The response I received a bit unexpected.  You see, his wife saw the message and decided to give me some constructive feedback, saying that my whining is horrible and undesired.  Instead, I should spend my energy on looking for the positives in my life and making right what went wrong.

I’ll be honest here.  Initially, her feedback hardly irked me.  I told myself that people only provide feedback because they care about you.  When people stop caring about you is when the feedback stops.

As the night wore on, however, I awoke from finding myself kicking in fits of anger in my sleep, agitated at what she had said.  She has only a very limited number of facts, many of which I will leave out here, as they are irrelevant to this article.  Everyone has felt bad and felt like their life is outside of their control.  I was feeling this at that moment.  The voice in my head started criticizing her: She should have refrained from judging me before providing this feedback.  I have had a hard year myself.  Many of the items she listed, I have worked on throughout the last year and a half on improving.  I used to be a very negative person, but throughout this past year and half, I have largely been successful in observing myself and my ego from a third-person perspective.  As a result, I have been able to criticize myself and my thoughts.  I am looking for more things in my life about which to be grateful, from the sandwich I had for lunch to the simple joy of being pain-free, if even for just a day (I have been in chronic pain for the better part of a year and a half).

I know her through her husband, and he is currently having serious health issues.  Sadly to say, it is a terminal condition.  She sees the need for him to have positive thoughts in order to get healthy again.  I saw him a week ago and he thought it was a waste of time to think positive thoughts and relieve stress, especially if the fight seems unwinnable.  So, she is basically saying to me that I need to keep these negative thoughts away from him.  I agree with her on this. Negativity in my life in part contributed to my health issues of the past 1.5 years.

Then I realized that I, too, was judging her.

Arguments and conflicts arise in part because one party thinks he or she is more right and correct than the other party.  Some people take the high ground.  Others launch an assault with hard facts and logic.  Who is right then?

My answer will surprise you: No one.

I say this in the spirit of maintaining peace and harmony with your fellow man and woman.  Arguments only get everyone all riled up and angry.  I have fallen victim to this myself many times.  It is such a subtle thing.  I would have an argument about some technical detail, only to have the other person argue a differing viewpoint.  Ten minutes into it, I’m angry before I know it.  My body language has change to being entirely aggressive and arrogant.  Soon, I’m arguing a point simply because I refuse to back down.  Sometimes that point is wrong but I have argued myself into a corner.  My ego wants to avoid looking stupid by admitting that I am possibly wrong than to agree with my friend that he may be right.

Over time, I have found that it is simply better to avoid passing judgment.  People tend to think there is an absolute truth in this world.  I did.  My younger friends still think of the world in black-and-white terms.  You should see some of the political arguments they have on Facebook.  These days, whenever I see that I just laugh to myself.  Why bring all that grief and misery to myself?  If I can change it, I will.  Otherwise, I will stop worrying about it.

So, in a way her constructive feedback was a kind reminder to myself:  Stop judging.

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