We would like to say that we are not judgemental people but that would be an untrue statement across the board. We judge. We judge people and their decisions and we judge things that cannot be controlled. Judgment is our way of making sense of a situation and assigning value and meaning to people, things, and events. Our brains are hardwired to categorize for rapid retrieval. While our judgment may not originate from malice or disdain, what we do with our judgments can cause serious harm.
If we allow ourselves to access the gift of presence and time to reflect upon what is happening within us and around us, we can transform our judgmental nature. When we become aware of our inner voice going into default judgment mode this can be used as a wake-up call to create an opportunity for reflection, growth, and understanding.
Many of us are prone to judging others based on how their bodies show up in this world. For instance, we judge based on physical appearance, assumed race, body size, assumed gender, age, beauty standards, visible disabilities, skin tone, etc... Our judgment says more about us than about the person we are judging.
When we judge other people we are assigning value to some dimension of their diversity, whether we are aware of it or not. These dimensions of diversity can be illustrated in our Humanity Mosaic; a mechanism for change used to illuminate the various factors that make up our self-identification. Some of the identifying areas include culture and ethnicity, age, gender and sexual identity, language, socioeconomic status, education, work industry, physical and mental abilities, family, income and finances, and so on. Each dimension of our diversity affects the other in some way or another, and many of these factors affect how we treat people and in turn how we are treated.
Criticizing someone based on factors beyond their control is one of the most toxic practices contributing to the divisions we face. We assume people choose certain dimensions of their diversity and we fail to recognize the effects of their circumstances or the culmination of other dimensions of their diversity. In Know Justice Know Peace, I explore this concept in depth through the use of the Humanity Mosaic and the early messages we received about value and othering.
As we explore our own self-identification we can begin to unravel the complexities of our value systems and how they were formed. This process can be difficult to come to terms with when you uncover the truth around how implicit biases have crept their way into your life.
Some of us learn that, while we may have good intentions, our actions, behaviors, and beliefs can harbor messages of bias and bigotry, and enable the othering of many different types of people. This realization can cause some people to react in a highly defensive manner and push back with resistance. The defensiveness and reluctance to accept our flaws are entirely normal and a basic human reaction. However, the next steps we take to move past this resistance are crucial to our growth as healthy, compassionate, and connected human beings.
If you want to learn more about this here's a little sneak peek into Know Justice Know Peace:
“Uncovering the origins of your value system opens the door to developing compassion for yourself and others. A key step in the process acknowledging that you are not responsible for the early messages you received or for the implicit biases in which you were imbued. However, once acknowledged you are responsible for uncovering the biases in a healthy way and engaging in the inner work necessary to move from judgment and division and into empathy and connection… [The] values we hold on to, and especially the ones that shape our ethos, are hidden in the crevasses and corners of the beliefs, words, and actions of our early influencers. These values became our implicit biases, whether we asked for it or not. We then shaped our own belief systems around these learned messages and early influencers and more often than not passed them on to the next generation. The ultimate challenge here is that most of us get these messages packed up for us... not by us. We are given these biases and we carry them out into our adult life. Sadly, many of us never unpack this baggage. What we do not surface will not be explored. Without a deep exploration of what we are bringing forward into our adult lives we will either pass on bias or grace; never knowing the difference between the two. It seems like a self-perpetuating cycle, however, we can stop the destructive wheel from spinning by:
Choosing to do our inner work
Examining the baggage that came pre-programmed with bias
Exploring the decision matrix that we employ for making our choices about groups of people
Noticing whether our preprogramming leans toward compassion or persecution”
My book Know Justice Know Peace: A Transformative Journey of Social Justice, Anti-Racism, and Healing through the Power of the Enneagram is available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.