23. Know the Limits of Your Judgment

Good morning and welcome to your twenty-third meditation. Would you consider yourself a judgmental person? Making judgments is an important part of the way that we form our identities. We decide what we like and don’t like, what is good and bad, what is meaningful and not through the complex churn of experience; our traumas and our joys, our family histories, and everything we read and watch and consume. Your judgment is the expression of your individual system of morality. And so it is an expression of your humanity – because what could be more uniquely human than the ability to moralize? So, as you might guess, judgment is important. And although the word “judgmental” tends to get a bad wrap these days, we should be careful about maligning the concept of judgment to the point where we feel ashamed to judge. Not only would an attempt to stop all judgment in us be futile since it is such a fundamental part of what it means to be human, it would be unhealthy and self-destructive. Instead of denying your judgements, try acknowledging them and respecting them for what they are: an expression of who you are and what you believe. Equally important, however, is to acknowledge that both you and your judgments are extremely limited. However well-reasoned your moral arguments are, however broad and deep your experiences, your point of view is merely one drop in an ocean of points-of-view, each founded on a different set of criteria. This means that each judgment we make should be scrupulously examined since it is at least as likely that it comes from a place of ignorance as it is that it comes from a place of knowledge. But it also means that there is always infinite opportunity to learn from others and expand the scope of our judgment, borrowing from their experience to inform our own moral make-up. So the next time you find yourself judging as bad a song, an artwork, a fashion, a behaviour, or anything else first acknowledge this feeling. It is valuable and important and only by acknowledging it can you ultimately know what you later do with it. Next, consider what value that which you’re judging may have for another person. Here it can help to ask other people’s opinions about things to get a better idea of why they may like something that you do not. And lastly, open yourself up to that perspective and see if you can identify with it. Worst case scenario you feel affirmed in your original judgment, best case you learn how to derive joy from something you never imagined you could. Keep it up. You’re doing great. Have a wonderful day.

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