“If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” –Mother Teresa

I’ve confessed to being a “recovering perfectionist”, and in recovery you must own your stuff. I was once a very judgmental person. Not by choice, but it is something I did without even realizing I was doing it. In my quest for perfection, I often looked down upon those who didn’t attempt to be “perfect” like me. I often said things like, “I wouldn’t do that”, or “how could she not show up for that”, or “that was just not right”. There are a host of other thoughts or judgements I had, but it really reflected my own limitations and insecurities. It wasn’t until my “perfect” life as I knew it blew up, did I learn the very hard lesson of “never saying never”. In fact, I would go even further to say that my life blew up so that I could learn that until you walk in someone else’s shoes, you have no right to cast judgement on anyone.

It was a hard lesson to learn, and owning the fact that I was responsible for making others feel less than by casting my opinions on them was not something easy to reconcile with. The only way to be and do better, is to acknowledge those things that don’t serve us, and make the choice to be different. It really is that simple. It’s a choice. Over the last several years, I’ve done things I’d never imagined I’d do; I’ve made choices that weren’t always good for me; I’ve betrayed trust; I’ve disappointed and hurt people because of my own pain and limitations; I let a very close friend down; and I’m sure I’ve done other things that I wasn’t even aware of. Looking in the mirror and owning these things I’ve done, accepting I was far from perfect, and then forgiving myself for being human taught me the greatest lesson in life. Judgement of others is really a reflection of how harshly you judge yourself. Everyone has a story, and that story has twists and turns that sometimes can’t be explained. Until you have walked in someone else’s shoes (pain, joy, disappointment, tragedy), you have no idea how you might respond in the same situation. It is quite easy to look from the outside in and proclaim what you would or would not do, but you really don’t know unless you lived in that situation.

Life has taught me some tough lessons over the last decade of my life, but I am so grateful that I was open to receiving the messages that were meant for me. These lessons helped me grow in compassion, humility, and taught me to honor humanity. I can’t say I live a judgement free life, because I am human. I can say that I’ve learned to be gracious with myself through forgiveness, which gives me the benevolence to be gracious to others.

My Takeaways:

  • Judgement is fueled by insecurity and fear. Facing my life taught me to be humble and compassionate to everyone’s story. We all make “bad” choices, and we all deserve to be forgiven and given another chance.
  • Life is a journey, and sometimes we can only do the best we can in the situation we are in. Compassion starts with forgiving yourself. Once you gain compassion for your own imperfections, judging others is replaced with humility and empathy.

My Challenge for You:

  • As you find yourself judging someone else, stop yourself and say, “I have no idea what got this person to where they are, and I have no right to judge them”.
  • Think about someone in your life that you have been super hard on. Explore why their behavior is affecting you so deeply, and ask yourself what it is inside of you that you might be judging yourself harshly. Forgive yourself, and you will see that it is much easier to change judgement into compassion when you start with yourself!