Saturday, August 30, 2014

Be Judged Not, Lest Ye Judge

This morning, the theme of my Google+ Stream seemed to be the judgments of others. People were pushing back against being judged for their associations, sexuality, clothing, activities, et cetera.

But the judgments of others are something that we have to accept for ourselves. If we do not accept shame or fault based on the opinions of another person, that other person has no real recourse in that. Yes, they may take actions against us, in an attempt to pressure us to accede to their judgments, and to the degree that we are not self-sufficient, independent actors, those tactics may cause us some grief, but we still retain the choice of accepting or rejecting the perceived judgment.

And, given that choice, I aim to reject it out of hand. What other people think of me is none of my concern, because it is not under my control - people are free to think of me what they will. And in allowing them that freedom, I have found that I am better able to avoid judging them in turn. Seth Godin once made the point that if you place someone in a position where they can think well of you, or think well of themselves, they will often chose to think well of themselves. And we understand from studying people that when they chose to think poorly of someone else, they often look for "objective" reasons to do so - and these reasons are expressed as judgments.

By rejecting the validity of the judgments of others, I deny them the ability to push me into choosing. When I can think well of myself and well of the other, I am free of the need to judge them as a means of justifying thinking poorly of them. And as such, I am free of the need to look within myself to ensure that I do not share the trait that I would use as the justification. And so I may better accept myself for who I am - regardless of who I associate with, how I express my sexuality, what clothing I wear or what activities I engage in. (Or, for that matter, who I do not associate with, how my sexuality is muted, what clothing remains in my closet or what activities I decline.) And in that acceptance, find contentment.

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