Judging someone does not define who they are; it defines who you are.
Imagine you are walking through the woods and you see a small dog. It looks cute and friendly. You approach and move to pet the dog. Suddenly it snarls and tries to bite you. The dog no longer seems cute and you feel fear and possibly anger. Then, as the wind blows, the leaves on the ground are carried away and you see the dog has one of its legs caught in a trap. Now, you feel compassion for the dog. You know it became aggressive because it is in pain and is suffering.
Like the small dog above perhaps when people behave like “mad dogs” [eg. Think US election] perhaps there is a reason for their behaviour. The best way you can help the situation where you see things that seem abhorrent to you is to stop your judgement and use this pause to figure out what is really going on.
In this day and age of instant judgement the unpleasant judgemental attitude that many Church going people had in the past looks tame as compared to political correctness of today. As the good book says in the Book of Matthew:
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”
For the sake of your health and also to help you work with those you disagree with the most helpful thing you can do is stop judging other. So, how can we become less judgmental? There are many ways [see 1] but I will only focus on three of them that illustrate a process that will help improve your satisfaction in life.
Over ride your initial gut emotion to feel threatened by something unfamiliar – whether it be a person, idea, or emotion. When feel threatened we go into fight-flight-freeze mode, and are unable to see the myriad possible reasons for another’s behavior. We get tight and defensive. This is a normal first reaction. The key is to pause before we act out of this mode.
Look for what is right in a person or situation rather than what is wrong. Look for basic goodness. This takes practice, as our minds naturally scan for the negative, but if we try, we can almost always find something good about another person.
Educate yourself. When people do things that are annoying, they may have a hidden disability. For example, some people with poor social skills may have Asperger’s syndrome. So if someone’s invading your personal space (as someone with Asperger’s might), remember again, it’s not about you. You may not be able to change the world, but you can certainly understand it a lot better and act and react differently to it.
There is no “other”, there is only “us”. All people, all living beings have some small part of the truth of the story we call life. We can learn from every living being. Every idea, every person, every emotion, if reflected upon, no matter how nasty, has a meaning and a purpose. Our trick is to dig deeply enough and find a bridge of commonality with it/him/her and then find a solution to the problem at hand. The first and necessary stop in this process of healing is to stop judging. As Albert Einstein said:
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”