Nothing in life causes more pain and suffering than the judgments we hold about and against others and ourselves. I think Byron Katie says it best: “When you argue against reality, you will suffer.” Judgments are the thoughts or arguments we hold about or against what is, what was, and what should be. All judgments create suffering and need to be forgiven.
Every interaction and experience in life offers the opportunity to become aware of those things that we do not recognize and/or do not accept about ourselves. This is the foundation of all judgments. It is very easy to point out in others the things we deny, dismiss, avoid, excuse, and resist acknowledging that we actually believe are true about us.
When we are willing to be emotionally honest, we will discover that the reactions we have to circumstances, situations, and people give us more information about ourselves than about anyone or anything else. Every upsetting encounter is triggering an emotion that is present on our internal landscape.
When someone makes a remark about us, it may trigger hurt or fear or sadness.
We may judge the person as mean or insensitive or disrespectful. Upon a closer investigation, it’s revealed that the thing being said by someone else is the same thing we may have said to ourselves about ourselves—when no one else was around. However, when a person makes the same remark and we don’t have that judgment about ourselves, chances are we will not be hurt or offended by it. Regardless of the circumstances, our internal reactions to people and events are a reflection of our own self-judgments and long-held toxic emotions. Rarely do our negative reactions have anything to do with another person’s bad behavior.
3 Learning Tools to Help You Forgive Others
More often than not, judgments can be traced back to one of three primary issues:
1. We do not/cannot tolerate the same behavior or characteristic in ourselves.
When we harbor feelings of inadequacy, inappropriateness,weakness, or the “not-good-enough” syndrome, we resent seeing our behaviors and tendencies demonstrated by another person. Seeing it “out there” embarrasses us, so we condemn what is being demonstrated. A judgment of resentment or embarrassment often reveals that we are not fully expressing ourselves, and we experience resentment or anger when others do so.
2. We are unaware that we behave a certain way and of the impact that behavior has on others.
So we disown it and project the behavior onto others and dislike it “out there.” Whenever we experience dislike, upset, or anger about how someone is, we must ask ourselves, “How and under what circumstances am I prone to behave the same way?” Only when we become willing to take an honest look within to determine if we share some of the characteristics we dislike in others can we become self-accepting and self-aware.
3. When we are envious and resentful, we must find something wrong with others who have what we want or do what we desire to do.
We judge them in order to make them wrong about who we are and what we have not created for ourselves. When someone attains a certain level of success or recognition, it may remind us of a lack of confidence or success in our own life experience. When feelings of inadequacy surface in the face of success, chances are we will look for and find something wrong with the person to negate what is right or good about them and their accomplishments. This is also known as the “crabs-in-a-barrel” mentality: pulling someone down to the level we believe we are on.
Forgive Yourself First
It is only when we forgive our judgments that we can have compassion for others, even when they behave in ways we would not. With time, practice, and forgiveness we grow a deeper understanding of what we say and do to others that can and will transform how we live within ourselves. See my book,Forgiveness for more tools to help you forgive.
Rev. Iyanla Vanzant