JudgmentNov 15, 2022
I started The Fine Line Digest to share others’ stories in a way that brings hope to people in similar situations. Sharing others’ stories was prompted after hundreds of questions about how I was okay after becoming a widow. It made me question why I made certain choices that formed who I am and other people made different choices that resulted in significantly different outcomes. I set out to determine the shared characteristics of people who survive great loss and seemingly are thriving…I wanted to judge how some people are okay and others are not.
Quick to Judgment
Another motivation for writing a blog was to allow you to “see me.”
Transparency and authenticity are important to me and the mark I hope to make in this world. They have become common words in leadership and I find myself quickly jumping to judgment toward those who preach on the importance of transparency and authenticity in leadership and yet do not deliver on their word.
In a scary moment of full transparency and authenticity, I shared part of my story in a recent post. One of the comments I received to this “Okay” blog was sadness for the deceased father—my former husband. This came from a father of young children.
I shared with him more of my perspective and why the words my son’s language about “step-dad” and my “other husband” were so upsetting to me. And then I listened to him offer that maybe my son was simply wanting to piece together a fuller story about his biological dad. While listening to his perspectives, I realized how judgmental I had become. My son is a nine-year-old child who hears fragmented stories and is left to connect the fragments with his imagination. He wasn’t casting judgment by using the words “step-dad” and my “other husband,” he merely heard those words and was trying to connect one fragmented story to another. It is kind of like watching a TV series and missing a few episodes and then trying to quickly catch up to what is happening. Sometimes we can gather enough context from the later episodes to make the story make sense, but sometimes we remain a little confused and make up own conclusions of what must have happened to get to that point in the story.
I was judgmental once again this month. This time with my husband.
As part of his occupational training and inherent self, he rarely shows emotion.
After a month of exchanging approximately a dozen words, he shared an alternative perspective from a fellow veterinarian titled, Being an Equine Vet is Wonderful; Being an Equine Vet is Terrible. The story teeter-tottered between loving working with a huge, powerful, and incredibly sensitive animal and being judged when things do not go the way owners want. The story talks of the trauma of witnessing horrific horse accidents. I witnessed it firsthand when a child and her mother brought their pet in while I was on a date with my then fiancé, so we detoured to the veterinary hospital instead of going to the dinner we had planned. I watched from the corner as he had to tell the family the extent of the damages and presented the options—neither of which was ideal.
Unlike human medicine, veterinarians tend to “do it all.” They handle incoming emergency calls, they treat, they anesthetize, they write clinical notes, and they manage billing. There is no department to hand the client off to or phone line to transfer them to, which creates an interesting conflict of doing what is best for the patient (animal) versus the client (owner).
The part of the article that hit me the hardest was “My time isn’t worth anything to them. It’s terrible, being told you’re worthless.” The article was referencing being asked to sign countless documents for owners without being paid for their time to review the documents nor being paid for their willingness to put their careers on the line with their signature.
It hit me because I recently cast this same complaint—that my time was dispensable and that I was being treated as if I was worthless.
And yet I also have used those words against him, “that was a waste of time” after he spent all night in surgery only to have the horse die a few days later.
Talk about a punch in the gut. There on my mighty box, I was casting judgment just like everyone else while I was focusing on being judged.
I was quite literally judging others…for judging me.
Judgment is a vicious cycle.
Who am I to judge?
Judging requires us to go backward in time and declare what was just or unjust based on our own perceptions.
There are always multiple perspectives on the situation.
Moving forward without judgment could possibly be the hardest task of life.
It is so much easier to judge, demand righteousness, and climb to a higher ground than to move forward without judgment.
Moving forward without judgment requires the sincerest compassion imaginable.
I am not convinced it requires total forgiveness, although that does not hurt. It does require accepting that your perspective is not the only perspective.
Moving forward without judgment requires trust.
Most of all, trust in ourselves. Trust that we matter—that our truths are no less valuable by accepting alternative perspectives in addition to our own.
Moving forward without judgment requires curiosity.
It is so easy to stand back and say, “they need to be more compassionate and then they would be less judgmental of others.”
….”they need to”…. isn’t it ironic how quickly we go to a place of judgment when convincing others to be less judgmental?
I mess up this one all the time. Approaching alternative perspectives with curiosity allows us to see the alternative perspective versus assuming our perspective is “the way.”
Alas, there is room for each of us to improve.
By highlighting some of the opportunities to improve our understanding of other humans, I hope that people will want to learn more either with me at ENLITE or elsewhere. Whenever I teach or write, I tend to learn just as much from others who respond and interact back with me.
Are you interested in training for yourself or your team on issues like these? Reach out to see if I can be useful to you.
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