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September/October, 2018

Relinquishing Judgment


The Habit of Judgment

Have you ever considered how often you make a judgment as to what is good or bad, right or wrong?  You probably do this many times a day and feel justified.

We all think our perspective is the right one.  But how can we be sure?  What is good judgment to one is bad judgment to another.  And the same person may classify an action as right at one time and wrong at another time. There are no consistent criteria.

Consider this excerpt from A Course in Miracles: “In order to judge anything rightly, you would have to be fully aware of an inconceivably wide range of things – past, present and to come. You would have to recognize in advance all the effects of your judgments on everyone and everything involved in them in any way. And you would have to be certain there is no distortion in perception, so that the judgment would be wholly fair to everyone on whom it rests.  Who is in a position to do this?

“Remember how many times you thought you knew all the facts you needed for judgment, and how wrong you were?  And how many times did you think you were right, without ever realizing you were wrong?”

So, why do you judge?  You may think that judgment is natural.  However, it is learned.  You learn it from your parents and teachers, then later from your friends and probably the media.  If you watch the daily news, you will be exposed to extensive judgment, and the violence of that judgment has escalated in recent years.

The Freedom in Relinquishing Judgment

One journalist coined the phrase insult culture to describe the way people in power have started communicating in a derogatory manner.  This is mimicked in the population by both adults and children, in their speech and in texts and emails.  Is this the way you want to live?

Many of you have already let go of judgments regarding people’s race, religion or sexual orientation.  But how easy is it for you to judge the smokers, the homeless, the overweight, the drug users, the panhandlers?  Do you judge the way people dress, the way they vote, how well they recycle, their driving, their choice of books or movies?  The list is endless.  Most of us find a way to judge hundreds of times a day!

“Wisdom is not judgment; it is the relinquishment of judgment.” (ACIM).  What would it feel like to relinquish judgment?  How about trying to spend one day without making judgments? When the temptation arises, simply let it go and send a thought of compassion or blessing to the person or situation instead.

I tried this, and although I still made some judgments, I made fewer.  The exercise also made me aware of how often I’m tempted to criticize and categorize others in a negative manner, and now I find myself less tempted.  It’s been liberating.

Letting go of judgment can also improve your health.  You cannot have a judgmental thought and a happy thought at the same time.  So, judgment robs you of happiness.  It deposits toxic feelings into your body that, over time, can cause illness.  Let’s all release this habit and live the freedom of a happier, healthier life.