May 26. “If you judge people, you don’t have time to love them.” (Mother Teresa)
I am a very judgmental person. That confession will come as no surprise to anyone who knows me well. I see a situation or actions by others and I immediately make judgments about the people involved. If the actions aren’t to my liking, then the judgment is accompanied by some choice words, and even some name calling. I am not proud of these actions in myself, and I am constantly trying to change the pattern, but old habits die hard.
Dale Carnegie’s first principle of Human Relations is “Don’t criticize, condemn or complain.” In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus warns “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.” Strong words. How I snap to judgment on others will be how I am judged.
In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Mr. Carnegie quotes Benjamin Franklin who once said “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.” You would think that a person who has this many quotations at the top of mind about the ills of being judgmental would do a better job than I do at avoiding the ills. It may be the case that I am really good at avoiding being judgmental, and that if I had no checks on it at all, it would be even MORE rampant in my life, but that is little to no solace for me.
Mother Teresa sums up in 11 words what might be the most powerful of all quotes on judging others. When I am judging, I leave myself no room to love. And if I have not love in my life for others, then it is so much harder for the love of others to come to me.
The truth is that I have no room, and no business making judgments about others. I see something happen in public, but I don’t know that person’s mindset, what has happened to them recently, or what their life’s challenges may be. I see and I react with no understanding whatsoever about them as a person. How often have I made mistakes in public that someone else judged harshly? I would not want to be held as accountable for my public mistakes as I tend to hold others. I would want mercy, and the opportunity to explain myself. But I don’t offer that in my own mind.
It may seem that I am being overly hard on myself this morning, and I am. I am because this isn’t something new to me. This is an activity and a set of behaviors that I have worked on for years, and yet I still stumble.
In a recent post I was talking about Dale Carnegie’s first principle, and I suggested that maybe I need to keep an index card with me to track how often I broke the first principle. I did start the card, and had it in my pocket for a few days. The first day I did pull it out and mark it. The second day I only pulled it out once – an no it wasn’t that I was being THAT GOOD. The third day I put it in my pocket in the morning, but it never came out. And at the end of that day I threw it away. In front of me on my desk is another index card with “CCC” on the top. I am going to start again with this action. And, I will keep re-starting it until I run out of index cards (which isn’t likely to come anytime soon), or until I start to see improvements again.
I don’t want to judge others. Not because I am worried about judgment backlash, but because it isn’t the kind of person I want to be. I want to be a jovial, kind, giving, understanding person. I want to be approachable and helpful. While I am busy being judgmental, all those traits take a back seat – and not just a backseat in a car. I am talking way back in a long and crowded bus. I can do better than this. And I must rededicate myself to the process.