The other day, one of my coaching clients said, “Hal, I need to work on being less judgmental. I don’t like how I’m always judging other people. Can you coach me on that?” Here’s what I told him, which I realize some my find controversial and many will surely disagree with…
I am a recovering judge-aholic. Yes, it’s true. I used to spend far too much of my time and mental energy judging others, coming from the perspective of their way of thinking, believing, or behaving is “wrong” because it is different than how I think, believe, or behave.
This seems to be the way most of us operate, consciously and unconsciously judging other people based on their words… their actions… their opinions… their choices… their beliefs… their clothing… you name it, we judge it.
Then I started to read books about love — specifically, unconditional love. And my perspective completely changed.
I believe that the greatest blessing we have been given are the people we get to share our lives with, and our greatest joy is in loving each other, beginning with loving ourselves.
But if our love has conditions — or if we judge ourselves harshly because of our mistakes and imperfections, and if we judge other people before allowing ourselves to really get to know them — then I think we miss out on something extraordinary. I think that there is an opportunity for us to experience infinitely more joy and love in our lives, but making a conscious choice to love more, and judge less. But how?
Although actions speak louder than words… It is our intentions which reveal our soul.
It has been my observation that most of us make judgments about other people based upon their words and their actions. We tend to deem what people say, and what they do, to be the truth about who they are. Take a moment to evaluate whether this observation is true for you—do you tend to judge others based upon what they say and do?
Of course, we all do.
Consider this: have you ever mistakenly said something—in the heat of the moment—that you didn’t really mean? Maybe you even later regretted having said it, and wished you could take it back?
Of course, we all have.
And you have ever done something—maybe out of fear, anger, excitement or some other fleeting emotion—that wasn’t a true reflection of your character and who you aspire to be? Something that wasn’t in alignment with your values and who you are at your core, but was rather based on some momentary lapse of judgment or loss of control.
Sure, who hasn’t?
Would it be safe to say, then, that our words and our actions don’t necessarily tell the whole story of who we are, and who we are striving to become?
The possibility that I am sharing with you is that although our actions may speak louder than our words, neither one of them accurately portrays who we are. I believe it is our deepest intentions, as well as our deepest desires, that speak the truth about who we are.
If a person lashes out because they’re insecure or feel their needs aren’t being met, and they really just want to be loved and acknowledged, rather than judging them based on their outburst, I’m suggesting investing the time and care to get to know WHY they lashed out, WHO they are beyond their emotional reaction, and WHAT they truly want. Once you know that, there’s really no reason to judge, but just to understand.
In relationships (particularly romantic relationships), I’ve found that this approach minimizes conflict, deepens your connection, and allows for real empathy and understanding.
So, if you desire to create and sustain optimal relationships with the people in your life—to experience true, unconditional love and to be loved in the same way—take the time to get to know people by their intentions. The challenge is that this takes time, and it requires patience. Sometimes you have to look really deep below the surface—five, six, seven layers deep—to truly know who someone’s heart and soul… but the rewards are priceless.
Question: How would your life — and your relationships — be enhanced with less judgment and more unconditional love? Please leave your comments and/or questions below, and I’ll be sure to respond within 48 hours…