Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Nadia at Happy Lotus wrote a post called The September Issue of My Life. The part that jumped out at me in particular is the four paragraphs above the image of the mountain lake.

Avoiding making judgements about others is a significant challenge for me, one that embarrasses me. Nadia says, "We move through our days making judgments without ever realizing that maybe there is more to a person than what we see." Every time I see someone and make a judgement about them, I challenge myself to come up with other explanations, alternatives to my assumptions. For example, a person on the road tailgating me leads to my assumption that they are a terrible driver and a real bully. Alternatives could include the possibility that they are on their way to an emergency, that they are upset because someone close to them died, or that they are really excited to be going to see their favorite band in concert. This exercise allows me to let go of my hostility towards the other person, to get out of their way, and to wish them luck.

Why are our judgements of other people almost always negative? Why don't we make positive assumptions about people? Nadia writes, "It is said in spiritual texts that when we criticize another, we are criticizing something that bothers us about ourselves." So perhaps we are negative about other people because we are negative about how we feel about ourselves. We compare ourselves to other people in order to feel good or "better", when in fact, we are criticising ourselves by doing so.

Now that I am paying attention to this more in myself, I also seem to be observing it more in other people. It's almost like judging people who judge people. The biggest challenge this has given me is when I see it in my mother-in-law. I hear criticism of other people from her more often than I realized. I get the sense that she always wants to be right. I see myself in her, the parts I do not like, and I do not know how to react to that. Do I just ignore it and focus on changing myself? It is especially an issue for me because she is family and we live with her and she might help take care of our future children, so I have more of a stake in the outcome. What if she is unhappy? What would you do?

Perhaps I should acknowledge her negative energy and turn it into motivation to change myself, to avoid this similarity with her. I cannot change her, she has to find her own way. I need a balance between finding my way and protecting myself from energies that deplete my own. Thoughts?


  1. Very thought provoking Daphne. Kinda makes us really peer inside ourselves and that is not always easy to do. Funny too, how our preception changes and we notice judgements more and our reactions to them. "turn it into motivation to change myself" I love that. I will definitely try to use that kinda of attitude more in my own life.

  2. I think that's one of the toughest things to do - especially in a marriage. When negative energy is running amuck, pulling yourself above it and actually reversing the "vibe" is a trick that I have yet to learn. I usually get pulled down instead of helping the other person up...


  3. Angelia - I think the hardest part about looking inside ourselves is being open to seeing the truth instead of seeing what we want to see. I led myself to believe that I was very introspective and was really careful about my impact on other people, yet I discover now that that was not the case. We have to be willing to see the beauty and the ugliness and find a way to turn that into energy rather than defeat. I am so glad my words have provoked you.

    Jessica - It is SO tough! I agree that marriage and family situations, anytime you're in close proximity living together, negative energy can permeate everything. When my parents were on their way to being separated, you could cut the tension with a knife. I'm still trying to figure it out. I think it starts with finding a way to avoid taking it personally. And if you can remove yourself from the situation until you can regain your positive energy, you can return to that person with a renewed and neutral perspective. It might be too much to try to help someone else up until you can bring yourself out of the negative energy. Take it a step at a time.

  4. Truly wise, and I resonated with so much of what you wrote. I do the same thing and have to stop myself: I judge those who judge, which makes me one of them. (What a slippery slope!)

    Your driving example made me laugh because I now do the same thing --- if someone is weaving in and out of traffic and being a speed demon, rather than cursing them out, I look at them and say, "Wow! Good driving!" Or if someone is tailing me, I try to just send them love and peace, recognizing that it's not my driving that has them tailing me (so it's not something I'm doing wrong). And they're not wrong to want to go faster, regardless of the reason. We can all coexist if we let ourselves.

    The trick is, will we let ourselves?!

    Great post, Daphne!

  5. Megan - Well said! Thanks so much for your comment. I appreciate your compliment and encouragement. One of my tricks before I let myself react is to take a deep breath. Oxygen helps me relax and lets my brain function. It also helps me avoid my normal reaction to conflict, which is freeze and hope it goes away. This often involves holding my breath. It's not effective at all. It truly is about what we allow ourselves to do! Kudos to you for putting it into practice!


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