Is everything always what it seems? A daughter blames her mother for staying in an unhealthy marriage. A neighbor drinks too much and is ruining his health. This child is disrespectful because his mother doesn't discipline him. As human beings, we are quick to "judge" others and even ourselves. Could it be that the mother in the "unhealthy marriage" didn't view her marriage this way, or was unable to see another alternative? Is it possible that the "disrespectful child" is angry and doesn't feel heard?
In almost every relationship, the source of discontent can be traced back to "judgment". Judgment keeps us in the dark and separated from one another. In our house, I call it the "blame game". Disagreements can never be resolved when the focus is on the other person, and what they've done "wrong". There is a big difference between "Who messed up my toys?" and "I am unhappy because my toys are messed up."
Judgment causes defensiveness because an individual can't help but feel they have failed to meet your expectations. Often, we expect people to behave in a certain way, according to what makes us happy. But each person in our lives is on a different path and comes from different life experiences and circumstances. No two people are alike, but that does not make either party "wrong", just "different".
So how can we make "the judge" in us sit down?
First, we must realize that we aren't always going to like everything about everybody in our lives. Our job is not to change other people so we can be happy, but figure out how we can be happy despite our differences. Sometimes we learn to tolerate minor differences, or set boundaries when our limits are being compromised.
Second, grace allows us to see in other people what is also present or possible in us. Our "judgments" can act as a mirror for us to see ourselves more clearly. Whenever I begin to judge another person, I ask myself "When was the last time I acted like this?" More times than not, I can truthfully say I, too, am guilty of the very behavior I am judging.
Third, learning to not take another person's actions personally gives us the ability to stand back from the situation and see things more clearly. How another person acts has absolutely nothing to do with you - it is completely about the other person. When you take another person's words or behaviors personally, you become emotionally attached and charged, and your emotions will cloud your judgment. Take the example of my teenager speaking to me in an angry tone. I can choose to believe that my teenager is speaking disrespectfully to me, and I am then automatically hooked. The reality of the situation is that my teenager is angry and is having a hard time expressing his anger in a healthy way. It has nothing to do with me. I am in a much better position to hear my teenager's anger and help him channel it differently when I am emotionally detached.
Last, you will stop judging others when you stop judging yourself. When we are critical with ourselves, it naturally follows that we will be critical of others. By learning to love and accept those things about you that you don't like, you learn to be more tolerant of other people. You realize that we are all imperfect human beings doing our best with what we have. "The Judge" in us blocks opportunities to see the best in ourselves and others. When you can make "the judge" sit down, you will have the ability to harmoniously walk, side by side, in your relationships, and grow in the process.