The Mask of pretending to be Non Judgemental
You are a judgemental person. Now use the tool for good.
Clear thesis statement: People who claim to not judge others are full of shit. So full of shit that I can smell them miles away.
Judgement has gotten a bad reputation. The ability to exercise judgement and prudently pre-judge situations is not only a basic tool for survival, but a gateway to compassion. Judgement is neither cruel nor kind. It is a tool and its impact is based on how it is used in the world.
I’ve met people who gush about hating judgement and never judging people. With a few questions, I quickly learn that they’ve been hurt when others have ‘judged’ them and have had a negative perception of them. I then ask what they think about judgemental people. They reply, that they don’t like them. Eventually it comes out that they have negative judgements of judgemental people. As such, they are, in fact, being judgemental themselves.
I find the resulting embarrassment and frustration delicious. Once beyond that, we explore stories where judgement comes in handy.
When I first moved to Toronto in the late 90’s, I was walking home from my bartending job late one night. I lived in a part of town that had a reputation for its place in the crack cocaine industry. I was approached by a person who, for lack of a better word, appeared ‘sketchy’. There was something off about his energy.
“You looking for anything?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I replied, tossing my judgement aside, “weed.”
“Come,” he grunted as he turned quickly and led me onward.
We walked up to three dudes in puffy coats with hoodies pulled over their heads. Again, they seemed sketchy. I ignored my judgement.
“Twenty dollars,” he said.
I gave him twenty dollars. He went back to the dudes. A brief exchange took place. He came back to me with a glass pipe filled with crack cocain.
“You first,” he said.
Luckily, my judgement caught up with me. Rattled and embarrassed, I slinked away.
Over the years, working in bars, I worked late. I would frequently be out walking home at four in the morning. I regularly walked past groups of sketchy people standing around, outside in well known crack cocaine distribution centres.
Crack sales staff have a look. It’s kind of like employees at the Gap, except with more pain and desperation. Dressed in black. Track pants. Hoodies. Big coats. Sketchy as hell.
I learned from prior encounters that these are not people that I want to spend time with at 4 am. Especially not when I have my cash tips / rent money in my pocket. Not that I’d buy crack. Would they rob me? Who knows? I wasn’t willing to risk it. I would spot people who looked like they might be crack merchants and cross the street. Even if they were not crack merchants, the anxiety of suspending my judgement in a known crack part of town at 4 am was not worth it.
I’ve told this story before and was informed that this was a sign of my privilege that I crossed the street.
And I wanted more. I wanted the privilege of being able to afford a cab, or a car and the ability to pay for parking.
Hell, I wanted to privilege of being home and asleep, not walking home in five below zero at four oclock in the morning.
These critiques were offensive. They were offensive because the person judged me. Not on the reality of the situation that I faced, but on their belief on something that I ‘should’ be.
This leads me to my most handy tip around judgement.
It’s the one out, three back rule.
Point your finger at someone or something. Now look at your hand. One finger is out, at the thing you’re judging. Three are pointing back at you.
A bit cliche?
And, on each of the fingers pointing back at you write the following:
Middle finger: When I do
Ring finger: What they’re doing
Baby finger: What’s going on with me, what am I going through?
Because it’s highly unlikely that someone that you judge negatively is doing something that you don’t do.
If someone is doing something that you find unsavory, unpleasant or intolerable, you’re human. You likely do the same damn thing.
And by asking ourselves these questions, we can develop the magic ability to turn judgement into compassion.
It just takes practice.
So please, judge people. It will keep you safe, save your money and help you develop compassion for others.