Wednesday 24 March 2010

The limits of judgement

It's happened to me more times than I care to admit, and one of these days, I'll learn the lesson!

Something happens, so I feel someone has let me down, and then ... I judge!  I decide that I know why they've done what they've done.  That, somehow, I mysteriously know the inner workings of their mind and heart.  In most cases, the unfortunate truth is that I'm just interpreting what they've done through the lens of why I might take a similar course of action.

Even more unfortunate is the impact of judgement. Judgement always closes doors and hardens my heart a little.  It blocks communication, because I assume I know what's happening... because I'm hurt and don't want to dig up a painful situation and be hurt again... because I'm now more reluctant to meet that person... because, if I do meet them, I'm less likely to be open and honest with them...

Judgement can be highly corrosive.  It stands between people; it closes our hearts and dampens our spirit. 

After many years of falling into the judgement trap (and discovering that my assumptions were completely wrong) I've learnt that it's worth considering the possibility that our interpretation may have nothing to do with the motivations and actions of the other person.  It's also worth considering the possibility that, if we had travelled through their life in their shoes, we could have reacted in the same way. 

Being open to other interpretations and possibilities softens our judgement, from clear-cut 'black and white' to many possible shades of grey.  It also gives us a wider perspective, so we are more likely to approach the person in question with curiousity and compassion, than with aggression and assumption.

It takes real courage to open up to someone with compassion and kindness, even while we fear being hurt.  It takes courage to put a relationship before our sometimes distorted ideas of self-protection.  But it's worth considering taking that step, at the right time, in a gentle and compassionate way. 

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