I used to be a rather judgmental person. I loved people watching for the sake of pointing out all of the flaws in others. This is something I am truly ashamed of today. And though I cannot say that I no longer judge at all, I have been getting a lot better at not jumping to conclusions.
Perhaps one reason is that I shutter to think someone would judge me by just looking at me. Especially with my recent weight gain. I have been trying to establish myself as a person. Someone who is more than the number on the scale. I get nervous about others judging me based on my appearance. I truly believe that someday this won't bother me. Someday, when I am comfortable in my own skin, it won't bother me one bit what others think when they look at me. But as of today, it still makes me squirm.
But here's another reason. I think I've touched on this briefly before, but it has really hit home to me recently and is something I would like to explore further. I believe that most of time we pass judgement because we are afraid. I know it sounds kind of cheesy, but hear me out.
Before I was ever pregnant I was rather harsh on pregnant women. I would see a woman in her final trimester without her make-up on looking thoroughly miserable, and I knew she was just a lazy fake. Surely it could never be that bad. I looked at women who gained extra weight during and after pregnancy as lazy as well. I knew I would never have that problem. Ha. Naive.
Since that time I have become both of those things, but I learned a valuable lesson. The reason I was so hasty to judge those women was because I was terrified I would indeed end up like them. And I did. And truth be told, it's not so bad.
You can apply this to most areas of judging. There is a stigma against divorced people. Why? Because we don't want to be there ourselves. When someone is severely overweight we tend to assume that they are lazy. When someone has depression we often think that it is their own fault. We don't want to see that perhaps (almost always) there are legitimate, innocent reasons for these things to happen. We assume that bad things don't happen to good people (even though we know better).
If I look at someone in a situation that I am afraid to face I distance myself from that by demonizing the person. Perhaps "demonize" is a harsh word, but if you think about it it's not so far off. I have always feared being a "fat" person. I never, ever wanted to be overweight. So in my mind I assumed that all people who were overweight deserved it. They did or didn't do certain things and so they got fat. They were lazy. Somewhere along the line they were "bad" and thus they gained weight. I am not a "bad" person and therefore I will never gain weight.
Ah, how my eyes have been opened since that time. Now, let me just say this is a bit of an over exaggeration and most of this was done on a subconscious level at that, but you get the idea.
The reason I feel this is important to address here is that we need to not be so harsh on others. First of all, we have no idea what that person has had to face and what has led them to whatever fate. Second of all, I think if we truly pay attention, when we are passing harsh judgement we are showing an area where we feel vulnerable. Perhaps there is something in our life that we need to address or that we at least should acknowledge is a fear that we have. Maybe then we will see people in a different light.
Since I have made this discovery about myself I have been able to stop judging harshly (or at least, I'm close). It is amazing how much more you appreciate those around you and love others when you are no longer concerned with making them into bad guys. I feel that in turn that makes me a more likable person that others are less quick to judge.
Now let's sing Kumbaya.