It is easy to make snap judgements based on partial information and first impressions, but these quick judgements can be misplaced. These are a few things to bear in mind.
Who is responsible?
When something goes wrong we often look for somebody to blame. The train is late, so we get angry with the train staff; but the problem may be completely out of their control. We shouldn’t blame someone when they have endeavoured to do their best given the circumstances. We have all been on the other side of the coin – where we have been judged and blamed, despite it being due to factors beyond our control. Sometimes it is those under intense pressure, who most deserve our patience and understanding.
Worst case scenario
A tendency of the human mind is to anticipate the worst. By nature the mind is suspicious, and if something happens we put a negative slant on it; however, there is a danger this negativity can become self-fulfilling. If we expect something bad, it is more likely to manifest. Instead, if we suspend this negative judgement, we often find that things turn out better than we expected. This is why it is important to avoid rushing to a negative judgement.
Judgement leads to conflict
If we are quick to judgement it can make other people defensive and confrontational. If we approach an issue with an open mind and open heart, we help to facilitate a better outcome – in which the other person can modify their approach.
Everyone is trying to do what they think is best.
“Be kind, be all sympathy,
For each and every human being
Is forced to fight against himself.”
– Sri Chinmoy
People usually think they are trying to do the best from their own perspective. Sometimes we may think someone is doing something bad, but we do not see their inner motivation – perhaps they are trying to do what they think is right, given their limited understanding. Bearing this in mind, at the least, helps us to empathise with someone else’s point of view. Even if we don’t agree with them, it helps us to avoid painting everything in ‘black and white’ terms. We learn that maybe there is some good intention behind misplaced decisions.
We don’t always understand motivations
As a child, we may be upset if our parents tell us off for taking a risk; we feel it is unfair. But, when we become parents ourself, we better understand that the parent was trying to express their concern and protect our well-being.
Faith in human nature vs cynicism
At times, it can feel the world is a cynical and suspicious place. If you look at the average internet comment, people often take a cynical and negative approach. This rush to judgement is especially easy when there is only electronic communication and the bare words on a screen. If we meet people in the flesh, we wouldn’t say the same things in person that can easily be posted from a computer. This is because, in person, we can see and feel their humanity. This gives a very different impression to a more superficial online judgement.
Judge yourself not others
If we are always judging others, we need to take a look at ourself and ask why we are making these judgements. Sometimes it is out of a sense of inferiority or insecurity; we judge others to try to make ourself feel better. It is better to concentrate on our own well-being and try to improve our own attitude to life.
Stories of rushing to judgement
This post was partially inspired by two very different anecdotes.
Car stopping in the middle of the road. A car stopped in the middle of the road, the car behind got furious and started beeping its horn. But, why did the first car stop?
The Master’s indifference. This is a semi-autobiographical story of becoming a disciple of Sri Chinmoy. From one-perspective outer indifference was not what I expected. But, I learnt we can’t always judge spiritual Masters from our first impressions. Over time, I learnt why my Guru started off with indifference.
Photo top: Tejvan