One of the most transformational ideas I have embraced is the idea of withholding judgment. I, of course, make judgments all the time related to what’s best for *me* but that’s where it stops, with me. What was transformational was letting go of needing to judge everyone else’s decisions! In my 20s, I was the great debater. I could argue with skill and precision. It was something most people avoided. What I saw as I grew older was that being “right” was distancing me from others. I knew I wanted connection and yet judgment was a huge road block to finding it. I learned that connection was key to find solutions with another person, be it my child, husband, friend or stranger. I learned that connection will keep lines of communication open. If I stand in judgment of someone, they shut down or defend. They might get angry or start to judge me and we disconnect. My new mantra became, ‘Be kind, not right’.
I also learned that I don’t know what’s best for another, ever. I don’t know best for my child, my husband, friend or neighbor. I learned how we all process information so differently. Two people can be faced with the same scenario and the information they take in and what they prioritize may be completely different. Both will feel they’ve made the “best” decision and they have – the best decision for themselves!!
We can look at an issue like diet. I’m passionate about nutrition. I’m informed and at times opinionated. I have researched and made decisions that I feel good about. But even with all that I know, have seen and experienced, I do not know what is right for someone else. I have discovered that my body feels and works best on a diet that is about 75-80% raw. What isn’t raw is organic and/or local whole foods. My best friend is a meat eater. She is just as passionate about food and her research skills are beyond comparison. She has found her body feels and functions best with a diet that includes local, organic meat, including organ meat.
If I were to stand in judgment of her choices, it would only cause defensiveness. She feels just as strongly as I do that she has found the best diet for her body. If, instead, I can remain open and trust her path, we can learn from each other. As a result, we have both learned and grown from our association and knowledge. I know it’s improved my overall health and I believe she would say the same.
I’ve found this idea really important when walking into a sibling conflict. When we walk in on, or are drawn into a conflict, our first reaction is often to judge what we see. Who is right, who is wrong, etc. What works for me is to instead *observe*. When I am observing I’m not assigning value or judgment, merely reporting what I see. This helps me maintain a role of facilitator, instead of judge and jury. That role keeps me connected to both children and allows us to work together to find solutions that feel good to all of us.
I don’t want to spend time or energy judging your parenting, your diet choices, none of it. I’d rather use that time and energy to connect with you, find out the amazing things about you and be open to things that maybe I didn’t even know were possible. That’s what practicing non-judgment has done for me. It has allowed me to open myself to really see people and all that they have to offer.