Do you hate feeling judged in your relationship? Or you are you perhaps the one judging your partner? Either way, you and pretty much everyone else.
The judgments we have of one another comes out of our mouths as complaints, criticisms, and accusations. We say things like, OMG, “You’re so stubborn. Why do you always have to micro-manage me? You are totally self-absorbed! Why do you have to be so judgmental?!
When we talk to each other like that, we infuse our communication with irritation, anger, and hurt, and not only do we not get what we want in terms of listening, understanding, and harmony; it also sours the mood in our house; it feels bad.
On the other hand, theres’ no denying that as humans, we make up judgments. On one hand, that’s a good thing, right? We use our sound and positive judgment to navigate the world, to determine what activities are safe and what we should avoid, and to make judgments about what we value and what we don’t. So try as we might to be non-judgmental, these brains of ours are judgment machines.
But what are good ways to use our judgments, to build connection and understanding instead of distance and irrigation.
Try this quick experiment … think of a judgment you have about your partner or someone else? Do it now …
Ok, now ask yourself … “How am I just like that?”
The judgments we make about others are a reflection of aspects of ourselves that we don’t see or honor. For example, I have often judged other people – partners, friends, co-workers, politicians, you name it – for being judgmental and narrow-minded. How am I just like that? Well, in the same moment I judge someone else for being judgmental, I’m obviously doing the same thing.
But I’m judgmental in so many ways … I make up judgments about people who aren’t willing to work; or people who buy ten times more toilet paper than they need, and leave nothing for the next customer … at home, I judge Sonika for being too fuzzy with our cat, or for not using the chef’s knife correctly.
When I ask myself, How am I just like that?, I even the playing field. I stop making myself superior to you. Cuz that’s what happens when I judge you … I effectively say, I am better than you. When I judge you for being stubborn, I’m implying that I’m not; when I judge you for being selfish, I’m implying that I’m not … I’m basically declaring that I’m better than you. Most of the time, that’s rubbish. We both make up judgments about ourselves and each other. We both get irritated when we see behaviors we don’t like. At times, we both think we are superior to the other person, cuz we don’t do “that thing”.
Most of the time we are blind to how we are just like those we judge. Just yesterday I was coaching a man who is having a hard time being direct with his client who is always changing appointments on him last minute. He judges her as not being strong enough and direct enough with her employees who are requesting she cancel these appointments to accommodate their needs. He can’t see how he is just like her.
We worked with a couple last week who are on the brink of divorce. She is pissed off at how angry her husband is all the time (see it? She’s angry that he’s angry!) A woman who came to see us is emotionally shut down because her husband isn’t open to intimacy and connection. And a man quit talking to his partner because she isn’t available to physically connect with him as often as he wants. Each of these people are a match to those they are judging.
When we can slow things down to explore how we are just like the people we are judging in these specific ways, we open ourselves to seeing shadowed aspects of ourselves we wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. When I can see how I am just like you, it helps me to drop my arrogance, step into humility, and find compassion.
Not only that, but exploring “How am I just like that?” is a great equalizer … I’m just like you, at least in some ways. From that place, we can meet as equals, and if we still want to talk about changing our behaviors, interactions or patterns, we can do it with compassion and humility.