A Coaching Power Tool created by Astrid Richardson
(Life Coaching, UNITED STATES)
TheFreeDictionary.com defines judgment as The formation of an opinion after consideration or deliberation; an assertion of something believed.
Alternately, compassion is defined as Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.
At first glance, it isn’t completely obvious how judgment and compassion can be two sides of the same coin but when you think of judgment and how it can hurt oneself and others, the relationship becomes clearer.
Judgment shows up in many aspects of our lives. Often, we judge ourselves and our actions on a daily basis as either good or bad. We also judge others and their actions as good or bad. These judgments can be the result of beliefs that one has had for most of their lives. And in some instances, judgment can lead some to act out against people who seem to have different beliefs.
Judgment manifests itself in many ways, mostly unconsciously. It can cause problems in relationships and prevent connection. Judgment without awareness can be dangerous.
On the flip side, compassion can diffuse judgment and open the channels for connection to occur. When we show and feel compassion, we’ve shifted our perspective from negative to positive. Empathy can be felt and proper action can be taken. However, we can’t feel compassion toward others until we are able to feel compassion toward ourselves.
Self-judgment is a very common phenomenon. For example, we often see ourselves as attractive, kind, intelligent, etc. However, when these judgments become negative and cause feelings of inadequacy, failure, and anxiety, self-judgment is out of control. Oftentimes, we aren’t even aware of how we’re judging ourselves and how to stop.
The most prevalent self-judgment is “I’m not good enough.” This type of thinking causes many problems in relationships. Take John and Marie as an example.
Marie is a stay-at-home mom. John comes home from work one evening and realizes that dinner is not yet ready. He says, “Why isn’t dinner ready yet? I’m starving.” When coming from a self-judging posture, Marie (feeling guilty about her lack of contribution to the family finances) could react by counter attacking and being defensive. She says, “Well, I’ve been slaving away all day taking care of our children. If you want dinner ready as soon as you get home, you should hire a maid to help me around the house!” John and Marie get into a fight.
However, when coming from a self-compassionate posture, Marie would be able to recognize her feelings about being attacked by someone she loves, show herself compassion for having these feelings, and share those feelings with John while asking for what she needs. A possible response could be, “John, I feel attacked and hurt right now. I’m willing to talk about dinner but not when you’re attacking me.” The result is a more loving exchange.
Self-judgment can also manifest itself in low self-esteem and, sometimes, depression. According to Dr. Margaret Paul,
The most common underlying cause of depression, anxiety, addictive behavior, and relationship problems is self-judgment. The antidote is self-compassion.
Some research also suggests that accepting our imperfections could be the first step to achieving better health. People who scored high on tests of self-compassion had less depression and anxiety, and tended to be happier and more optimistic. (Parker-Pope, 2011)
Judging others can also be a self-fulfilling prophecy. When we judge someone and treat them according to our judgment, they often follow suit by behaving the way that we expected. We send non-verbal cues about our judgments and the message is received loud and clear.
Have you ever seen someone and made assumptions about what type of person they were? For example, the guy waiting for the bus has no job and probably had his car repossessed. Or the waitress at the restaurant must not be very smart and never graduated from high school. Judgments like these are believed to be a means by which we make ourselves feel secure in our own choices. In extreme cases, it can be the basis for prejudice and stereotype. (Wikipedia)
Marshall Rosenberg stated,
Every criticism, judgment, diagnosis, and expression of anger is the tragic expression of an unmet need.
And Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone theorized that all judgment is based on our disowned self. Therefore, the person that we are judging is carrying our disowned self via the mechanism of projection. (April, 2000) Based on these theories, the judgments stated above could be the cause of an underlying fear of poverty or not being smart enough.
Instead of feeling guilty for having these types of thoughts, the beliefs and associated feelings can be embraced through compassion for yourself. When viewed from this perspective, judgment can be a powerful teacher and pathway to self-awareness and ultimately, self-compassion. If we further define compassion as the active expression of acceptance for the world and people just as they are, it is easy to be in a state of non-judgment.
True compassion is being able to look at the whole world without expectations that it should be any different. (Gary van Warmerdam)
This can be applied to yourself as well as others.