"Our ability to give other people the freedom to be messy while still holding them in a space of love requires maturity, self-worth, raised consciousness, groundedness and a tremendous amount of love."
- Tamrah Barber
I’ve been doing a lot of work lately on myself because I am a firm believer that before you can challenge others to be the best version of themselves, you get to take yourself on first and continue learning and growing. We are always learning whether it’s learning what to do or what not to do. Growing up I lived with my grandmother who kept us in church. We attended service, bible study, and any other activities that had the church doors open. I learned a lot about judgment in the many messages I heard but the one thing that stood out the most was “don’t judge lest ye be judged”. Don’t know why that stuck with me throughout the years but it did. I spent most of my life being accepting of others no matter where they came from. I learned how to be nonjudgmental. What that meant was instead of vocalizing my judgments and assessments, I allowed my conscience to engage in mental chatter in my head. Instead of judging out loud, I judged in my head. As I continued to do my own work though I learned how to quiet that noise and see the brilliance in people even when they didn’t always show it. You can learn something from everyone. I remember my previous pastors saying “...eat the fish and spit out the bones...”, in other words learn what you can and discard the rest. With all of those teachings and the distinctions I learned later in life, I raised my consciousness to see the good in people and have compassion for them. The question I often ask is, “what must they have been through to behave that way?”.
You can’t teach emotional intelligence if you are not living it yourself. Recently, I had an experience where someone judged me because of my affiliation with a community and some things that had happened to them in the past by people in that community. The walls of resistance automatically went up and it got really weird really fast. They were agitated, short, and unaccepting. The energy shifted and I felt the judgment. They didn’t even see me. They saw their past. They had judgments about a certain group of people and because I knew them and had collaborated with them, I was like them and that meant they wanted absolutely nothing to do with me. It reminded me of how young black boys must feel walking the planet, or how our LGBTQ brothers and sisters feel. It reminded me of how our beautiful special needs, or any other groups that are labeled as “different” must feel. It was a horrible feeling. It was an energy that was hard to shake off. No wonder so many of them struggle with not even wanting to be here and be subject to everyone else’s judgment. It saddens my heart how people can be towards others, especially when they are educators that are responsible for preparing our future leaders.
Here is what I am committed to…and I say it in every training. I am committed to creating a space of love and acceptance…a judge free zone where people can be themselves. Where they are treated with dignity and respect. I am not committed to being nonjudgmental…I am committed to being unjudgmental. The two are distinct. I am committed to living my life so that even my mental chatter is not judging. Striving to see the good in people, and accepting that so many people have experienced trauma and have cognitive distortions that have them behave in ways that I might not agree with. Doing my work and cleaning up my history so I don’t treat people unkindly because of what happened in my past. They are not them. I am not that person any longer. I am present. And you and I can connect without me seeing my past in you.
Here are 7 signs that you may be overly judgemental and might need to do some work of your own to grow:
Being judgemental puts on full display your own insecurities and inability to connect with people who are different from you. The beauty of life can be found in our differences. Our ability to give other people the freedom to be messy while still holding them in a space of love requires maturity, self-worth, raised consciousness, groundedness and a tremendous amount of love.
When in doubt...be kind.