Saturday, September 15, 2012

Things I learned by judging others...

We all do it...we compare and contrast, criticise and judge. Our society seems to promote it given all of the reality TV shows like X Factor, America's Top Model, The Bachelor and the many others that seem to be taking over our prime time TV slots. "People Watching" (and websites like The People of Walmart) is past-time many of us enjoy for the sheer entertainment value but {generally} without any real underlying mean-spiritedness intended. Well, truth be told, I think most of us know it's not exactly nice is hard to resist.

We try to justify some of this because we don't really know those people and/or they are kinda putting themselves out there for our scrutiny (sorry Jersey Shore cast...but you asked for it). But the repercussions of our judgemental nature come to light when it hits closer to home, like when we catch ourselves judging our friend's behavior or choice in clothes/car/mate/hair color, especially when it's done in a negative way. Sometimes we even view other's Facebook posts as ego-centric and self-serving (ummm,'s their personal wall, what should they post about?). We even catch ourselves discrediting another's accomplishment by saying things like "yes, but..." (i.e. "Yes she ran a marathon but did you see how slow it was??").

I'm guilty. I did do all of this and more. I'd really like to say I am beyond judging others...that somewhere along the way between meditation and yoga and running and growing and reading and learning that I've become secure enough with myself that the need or desire or that judgemental mechanism inside of me has been removed. But it's still there and rather than dwell on how bad of a person I am I've decide to take a deeper look at myself and find a lesson in it all.

O! beware, my lord, of jealousy;

It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on.
~William Shakespeare, Othello

You see, most of the time, when I catch myself judging someone I can trace it back to jealousy, insecurity or even a fault in myself that I see reflected back from someone else's behavior. The easiest for me to identify is when I say something like '(insert a beautiful famous person's name here) isn't really all that pretty' (I said this last night about Britney Spears and then had to correct myself later, she is beautiful). I know that the source of this is my own insecurity. It's more of a reflection of my own self-doubt than of someone else's beauty and actually makes me less attractive inside (which really is all that matters anyway, right?).

Take that to the next level and when I find myself criticizing (mentally or to another friend~call it gossiping or it's heavily veiled nom de plume, 'venting') a girl friend who just lost 20 pounds or finds herself in a wonderful and healthy relationship I can pretty much bet that my own insecurities and jealousies are screaming out for attention...(and it's up to me to decide if they get it).
It is never wise to seek or wish for another's misfortune. If malice or envy were tangible and had a shape, it would be the shape of a boomerang. ~Charley Reese

But I also found that when a friend's behavior kinda rubs me the wrong way it's often an indicator that we share a trait that I don't particularly care for in myself. Maybe I don't like how much so-and-so gossips, or brags, or plays victim, or seeks attention, or meddles into every one's business. But if I sit there quietly and ask myself why it bothers me so much (especially when it doesn't really even affect me) the answer may be hard to swallow. It's as if a mirror is being held up to my own face.
 It's the ultimate in deflecting because of course, I can claim they are much worse than me. I might even use the words 'well at least I don't...' or 'I may be ____ but at least I'm not that ____'. What 'we' (because I don't think I'm alone here) are really pushing is the idea that we are the lessor of two evils (well, if you don't count the shit talking we're doing).

One of the most important things I learned from judging others was that it wasn't them that needed to change. It was me. I was the one judging  (and if they were doing the same that was their business) but for my own growth (and sanity) it was important for me to learn and at least try to change. My jealously was making me less...not because their success was stealing my joy or sucking up all of the goodness or beauty available in the world, but by making me into that girl...the one who thought that knocking someone else down would somehow lift me up.

There's enough love and beauty in the world for all of us's an endless supply, which means we don't have to "take" it from one person and give it to another. When I see a beautiful flower it doesn't mean that some other flower shrivels up a little and becomes a sacrafice to the other's beauty. Same with people...whether it's inner or outer beauty there is plenty to go around (not to mention it already exists in each and every one of us...though we often can't see it through our green-eyed veil). 

There's a beautiful piece from Elephant Journal I came across this morning that speaks about this...I hope you take a moment to read it here.


  1. What a beautifully honest post. I admire your ability to put into words something that we have all felt (and done at some point in our lives) and thank you for directing me to the other link. I especially loved the line: is easier to simply stay behind a mask or jealousy than to seek out authentic truth about that woman.The problem with this is that it robs us of potential connections with those we need it from the most—other women.
    How absolutely true this is. I've witnessed this over and over again. Tearing each other down instead of building one another up. There is definitely enough love and beauty in life to go around. You, through self exploration and growth are a testament to this. I'm very proud to 'know' you :)

  2. Thanks so much Ellen...and I couldn't agree more regarding the above quote. It's sad to see so many women take their own insecurities out on other women they don't even know. We have a huge opportunity to support our fellow women and develop the bonds that many of us seek (and can really benefit from) but it seems we would rather tear them down, as if that would make "us" better (or more). But it tends to backfire.
    And thank you for the kind words...I am still learning and love that I have your friendship and the wise words on your blog to help keep me pointed in the right direction.

  3. This is beautiful and extremely insightful. Every time someone says mean things to me, I think about how it must come from a hurting place inside themselves rather than something that is wrong with me. Thank you for "liking" my blog on Facebook, that's how I found you!

  4. Thanks so much Karen! Glad to have found you too. I love your blog (and hopefully will be inspired to dust off my running shoes soon!!).


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