“Judging a person does not define who they are. It defines who you are.”
The thing about judging others is that it says more about you, than it does about them. This quote above was one of those A-HA moments when it first landed in my life via Facebook. It really started me thinking about the default state of judgement, if we stop and witness our thoughts for a few hours they are often filled with instant and fleeting judgements of others, and ourselves!
Since becoming a Mother a whole new world of judgement has opened up around me, and frankly it makes me sad. Parenting is already one of the most challenging roles we will ever be gifted. It is filled with such an intense mix of ups and downs, it is exhausting and at the same time filled with elation. We are hard enough on ourselves without also being subjected to parenting judgement from others, least of all strangers!
I always knew that I would be a Mother, and the type of Mother I would be. I also knew that I would never judge another Mother for the way that she chose to parent. It seems that I am in the minority on this stance.
There is nothing sacred as a parent, nothing out of bounds in terms of scrutiny. I found myself at the extreme end of the spectrum last weekend, with an irate pair of 4 year olds as I dragged them from a movie theatre mid session. After many attempts to politely ask them to cease with the crawling up and down the aisles amidst giggles and yelling I was left with no choice but to vacate the area. The amount of silent staring, disgusted looks and zero words of empathy from the packed theatre forced my hand. I had never felt so alone as a parent.
Prior to the monumental meltdown was the warm up..at the cafe where I mistakenly thought that an innocent baby-cino together was risk free. During what I thought was a fairly average exchange of laughter, the words ‘bum’ and ‘poo’ and other 4 year old boy banter, we were being observed by a lone woman at the next table, and by observed I mean stared down! It became obvious that she came to the busy shopping centre to escape something in her own life, and we were interrupting her alone time. Of course I understand and support alone time, I am all about the importance of self care, especially after this past weekend! However, I draw the line at projecting our own inner state outwardly.
At times it can seem near impossible to escape constant judgement. It does take a lot of self awareness to turn our focus inwards and acknowledge that judging others can sometimes be an unconscious act. Trust me though, when I say that living a life free of judgement is a life of more freedom and more JOY. If we can release the need to form an opinion and come back to a natural state of acceptance, we will free ourselves and others of the awful impact of judgement. Here are some ideas on how to live a life without judgement:
♡ Make a list of the ways in which you judge others, think about how these judgements would feel for you. Do you judge others on what they are wearing, their profession, where they live?
♡ During your day, try to observe the judgements that you inflict on yourself, these are often followed by harsh criticism. Do you judge the lines on your face, the way your hair looks, your body imperfections, the food you prepare, that treat you enjoyed after a hard day?
♡ Remember that we are all doing the best we can, ourselves included. YOU are the best parent for your children, mistakes and all. YOU are trying your hardest and life is not easy, everyone slips up every now and then.
♡ Try smiling at a parent who you notice is having a challenging time, if someone had smiled at me or shared a kind word last weekend it would have made such a huge difference to my experience.
♡ Stop and think before you speak, it only takes a minute of mindfulness to prepare words that are coming from a place of love, acceptance and respect rather than purely from judgement.
I would love to know if you have had an experience like mine, or if you have been able to ease up on judgement of yourself and others xx