What did you first think of when you saw the title of this article? The first thing that comes to my mind is the feeling and sense around judgement being connected to biblical teachings. In the Bible (Romans 12:19-21) it says, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirsts, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head." In my early years when someone had done a wrong toward me, I did not go down the road of vengeance or revenge. I took the path of embodying the victim role and added more evidence to my belief that I deserved what I got and was not worth anything better.
When reading the bible verse, the teaching instructs us to return love to those who have hurt us in some way. In doing this act of love, those who have hurt us will more likely feel ashamed of themselves (i.e., “coals of fire on his head”). The thought of being benevolent toward your enemy is a bit more straight forward when you have a desire for vengeance, as they seem quite the opposite of each other. However, if you lack the desire for vengeance then how does it change the purpose of this teaching?
When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself. - Earl Nightingale
If I believed I deserve to be hurt by someone because my level of self-worth is so low, the act of loving them in return is somehow lost. This was because I didn’t love myself in the first place and didn’t know how. I could not reconcile rewarding someone else with love for giving me more proof that I don't deserve to be respected, acknowledged, or loved unconditionally.
At some point in my past, as a very young boy, I believe something happened to me that sparked the initial belief, that there was something lacking in my very nature or character. I'm not positive what it was, so I can only piece together larger events that happened to me. The main events happened when I was less than one year old and the next when I was around the age of 8. Both of these events had to do with major health crises that happened through no one's fault. Yet the common thread between the two events left me isolated, feeling scared and helpless.
Now, as an adult, it's easier to reason and see the truth of these circumstances. In my egocentric child mind, I could only experience my physical suffering from my perspective, and I only knew how I felt physically. I was very sure that I hadn't intentionally made myself feel this way. I also knew that no one in my life had caused it to happen. Knowing this as my truth, I could only subconsciously reason that there must be something fundamentally wrong with me.
This is only a perspective of a young mind that has not yet developed, and likely felt scared and confused as to why this was happening. The emotions of being scared and isolated combined to give me a deep sense that I was somehow broken or unworthy of feeling better. I believe that it was from these very events that I began to create a false story about myself.
Over the four plus decades since this time, I carefully added more and more evidence to this lie from my experiences in the world. In time, this story became what appeared to be a solid and undeniable truth. In a way, you can say that I cast a very intricate spell upon myself. This spell became so strong that the neural pathways in my brain became like a superhighway for the emotions I feel when I am hurting. Over decades of time, I continued to take in these feelings and stuff them down deep inside me.
Due to my illness as a young boy, I was not able to do a lot of physical things. I believe this hampered certain experiences from happening (like learning how to engage with my siblings or other kids physically - playing or even fighting). Also, my immediate and extended families were experts at not showing their anger or being aggressive in any way. Being passive-aggressive became a subconscious art form that I learned how to use in order to manipulate others, or to express my aggression and anger in a very passive way. This is the hallmark of anyone who hates conflict and has no real method to express themselves openly or in a healthy way.
Whenever a situation would arise that made me upset or angry, an automatic subconscious process would take place. First, more evidence was added to my belief that it was happening because I was not worthy of better treatment. Next, the subconscious realization that I was angry would force that feeling down inside me. And last, I would either not say anything or (if forced to engage) I would likely say something that would be laced with words meant to hurt the other person.
This process was automatic and happened very quickly, without any conscious thought about what I was actually feeling or going to say. I would not have even known or understood that what I said was meant to be aggressive toward the other person. It felt completely normal to express my "opinion" this way. In a way, being passive aggressive was how I learned to fight.
Not being able to express my emotions in a safe way was a catalyst for keeping me isolated. If I didn't have to engage with anyone, then I have a better chance of not feeling hurt. It was safer for me to just fend for myself. After all, this is the go to place I learned as a very young boy. This separation built a sense of righteousness in my mind. I didn't have any issues, they did. If I felt I was being treated poorly, they were the ones making me feel that way. I was right and they were wrong. I was better than them because I treated people nicely and with respect. I was enacting judgment upon them, and they needed to be taught a "lesson". I would be within my rights in telling them the error of their ways in thinking or doing something.
Judgements prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances. - Wayne Dyer
Most of us likely think of judgement as it relates to breaking a law of some kind whether it is moral or legal. But judgement can really be a sneaky thing when it comes to our beliefs of what is right and what is wrong. The perspective of right and wrong is usually a learned cultural or socially accepted norm. For example, putting vinegar on potato fries is normal in Britain and Canada for example, but in the Midwest the mere mention of doing this might likely conjure up disgust. It might seem odd, but this is a form of judgement.
If you have a house with running water, a connected sewer system and air conditioning; you might see someone living in Haiti or Guatemala as lacking or misfortunate. It is your judgement that their way of life is not "right" and yours is. This is especially true when someone does not ask for help or are already doing something in a way that works for them.
I believe that our perception of the world, in every possible detail of our reality, is created and curated by us alone. Each experience we have is continuously altering our perception of the reality we call our life. This perception is the bedrock of our internal and external beliefs, much of which has been influenced by our families, culture, and society at large.
It wasn't too long ago that some believed that people of color couldn't use the same restroom as white people. Others believed women didn't have the mental capacity to understand complex ideas and therefore should not be able to vote or have a position of authority. By some, these ideas were intrinsic beliefs held as solid and immutable. Many people rallied in judgement of those who did not believe in these ideas. While these beliefs have lost some of their power, they are still embedded in the psyche of many people around the world.
Who are we to judge? What beliefs have been engrained into you by society or by your own experiences, that gives you the right to say what is right for anyone else? My experiences of poor health as young boy were just as much of a teacher to my belief systems as the community I lived in and the church I belonged to. My beliefs of being a victim, even if I had no real proof of being intentionally harmed, became the source of my anger and judgement of others. An opinion of what is right or wrong is by its very nature judgement. From this perspective, consider how you may be consciously or subconsciously judging others.
If you are met with conflict or a feeling like you’ve been wronged stop, consider your part in why you feel the way you do. What is the truth of the situation? What part of the story your telling yourself is really a lie? Look deep within to see the beginnings of your beliefs about yourself and what is right and wrong. Perhaps the situation is being shown to you to give you an opportunity to grow, heal and to love yourself and others unconditionally.
Dwight Raatz, Author, Personal Coach & Konsilisto
Dwight is a writer, personal guide, life coach, and healer. He specializes in helping people on their path to truly knowing themselves, healing and removing blocks, and coaching them in achieving their goals for life and business. Click here to learn more.