The Power of Non-Judgment

I went to church today with a friend (as I usually do) and the sermon / message was really amazing. It was one of those “perfect” things we encounter in life – for me, these things are often certain parts of extraordinary films or other works of “art;” amazing strings of words or incredible poems or sometimes even entire books. At any rate, a main “theme” of this message was that if we are all children of “God” and “God” created so many different kinds of people in all kinds of ways, who are any of us to “pass judgment” on others in ways that inhibit them from becoming better people (you could phrase that in more specifically religious terms, if that is appropriate to and for you.)? It’s an interesting question – one that is incredibly simple and yet so loaded with implications. We certainly live in a world that seems to be filled with others who gain fame and money and power based on discriminating others in various ways; the vast majority of the “worlds” of human history are really no different.

I will be the first to admit that I am really a terribly judgmental person. Even when I take the Myers-Briggs “personality” test, time and again I come back as being a “judger” rather than a “perceiver.” This has always seemed strange to me – one of my primary goals here and in my life in general is to provoke thought so that others will challenge the “values” they have gained conditionally – “ideals” which often conflict with what they call their “value systems.” However, as someone who also deals with chronic illness, I have also seen myself “judge” the conditions and severity of conditions of others time and again – even within my own family. I tend to be INCREDIBLY HARD on myself and I think that self-criticism tends to ooze over onto others, often in REACTIVE ways. When I sit back and think about these COMPARISONS I so often make, I realize that I am standing in the way of MY OWN “acceptance” of MY OWN chronic illness – not just allowing others to be themselves and to experience things the way they are experiencing them reflects back on ME, not on them.

Today, after hearing the aforementioned “sermon” / “message,” I had an interesting thought – a note on which I will end this (actually!) succinct post. I unconditionally espouse the idea that regardless of what I think of others (or what others think of others), it is important to be kind because WE NEVER KNOW WHAT OTHERS ARE GOING THROUGH. I know I have said that here probably to the point of annoyance to those of you reading these posts. However, how can one simultaneously be judgmental of other AND UNDERSTAND that there are always unseen problems lingering beneath those happy happy happy Facebook photos? How can I say that person “n’s” illness isn’t “crippling” when I overtly recognize that the awful things people do and say to others are almost always (if not always!) a result of their REACTIONS to others in light of their own trauma and issues? One cannot HONESTLY JUDGE others AND believe that others are going through their own unseen issues. Remembering that we never know what others are going through and the message of not passing judgment are, as I have found, really one and the same. I have often found the process of “accepting” my chronic illnesses to be something of an impossibility – I have even asked others how they have managed to “accept” something that has stolen almost everything from them and universally the answer has been “you start by learning not to judge.” I am just starting to realize how powerful that statement really is and how incredibly liberating the process of becoming non-judgmental is in terms of acceptance in general.

I hope I can move forward in my life learning to live more in line with these ideals in general. I hope that one day the idea of “learning to accept” my chronic illness and everything that saying that entails becomes something of an old joke. I really hope that these ideas help others to find acceptance for their own chronic illnesses and problems. And I REALLY hope these ideas help all of us to find a little bit more peace in our hearts and acceptance not only for others but for ourselves.

❤ Always, Beth


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