It’s human nature to judge. And it’s part of our social nature to engage in gossip. However, when you realize just how detrimental it can be to your psyche – your spirit and entire being – when you get carried away with either or both of these things, you’ll want to learn how to stop.
When it comes to judgment, it’s important to first draw this important distinction: there’s judgment and then there’s discernment. As humans, we need to make sense of the world around us. That is, we are constantly labelling and categorizing things and even people. When we do this with as much impartiality as possible (we are never completely unbiased), that is what is known as discernment. In other words, it’s simply perceiving the way things are, without attaching any kind of assessment (i.e. “good” or “bad”).
Judgment, on the other hand, is what we add to discernment, again, making assessments, therefore, passing judgment. More so, there is an element of dissatisfaction when we judge others, and ourselves. There’s a built-in thought and feeling of, “this is how it should be” or even, “Why isn’t it (or him or her) like this rather than that?”
Can you spot the difference? With judgment, or what many of us call, “taking other people’s inventory,” there’s an internal dialogue (which we always have) but, this kind of inner talk is negative, complaining.
When it comes to gossiping, there’s also a distinction. Is it that you just need to talk about something that happened, vent, get feedback? Or are your motives more about inflicting some kind of harm on someone, whether it’s behind their back or not. Remember, you can harm someone by damaging their reputation, too.
Whether you’re taking someone’s inventory, being ego-driven and egotistical, or gossiping, it’s inevitable that you’ll start to feel miserable. That’s because you aren’t managing expectations of others, situations, and even yourself. Everything becomes a negative thought. And our thoughts influence who we are on a cellular level. Either you nourish your mind and body with positive thoughts or you make yourself miserable by focusing on your dissatisfaction with the way things and people are in your life.
If you’re gossiping, taking other people’s inventory and starting to feel miserable, here’s how to stop.
1.) Stop and notice your thoughts
Are you simply discerning others and situations or are you passing judgment on them?
2.) Be creative/think of the possibilities
For example, you notice a passerby who is overweight. Instead of thinking, “man, he’s fat!” consider the possibilities. Maybe he has a medical problem or is taking medication that causes unwanted weight gain – there are several that have this effect. Maybe he struggles with emotional eating.
3.) Practice compassion and acceptance
Going with that same example, entertain the possibility that he’s even doing something about his issues. Just like recovery from drug addiction, dealing with an eating disorder is a process that takes effort and time. Once you shift from judgment to compassion, you can start to feel love for others, and even yourself. Coming from a place of love when dealing with strangers, friends, family, and yourself is a much healthier way to go about living; it makes you feel a part of the human family.
4.) Learn to let go
So, I get it. It can be easier said than done to always practice compassion. Especially with family members, amirite? But there are practices you can incorporate in your daily life that will make this a much easier way of being – that will also make your life a lot better, too. Learning to let go of judments, expectations, gossip, and so on can be achieved through practicing surrender – say the Serenity Prayer over and over until you get it, remembering to breathe – you’d be surprised at how often you subconsciously hold your breath throughout the day, meditating daily, and exercising – I suggest yoga.
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