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?