top of page

Judgment & Suffering


The very word itself feels heavy, doesn’t it? We all do it, and we all suffer from it as a result. Why do we suffer from it? Because it creates a false separation, and we know that separation is the opposite of oneness, which is our true nature.

Judgment strengthens the ego, that sense of self that tells us who we are. It separates us into groups where we feel safe with those who judge in the same way we do and unsafe with those who don’t. This separation creates the “us against them” dynamic we see so prevalent today. And it’s all because we are hard-wired in our brains to seek safety. This is why it’s so easy to hate those we judge as “other.” It triggers our deeply subconscious need to survive. 

It’s certainly true that judgment is part of being human. We judge to keep ourselves safe, to align with choices and opportunities that we’re presented with, to learn where we fit in this world. But here's the rub. Often when we judge, we are drawn to hatred. And strangely enough, hatred can feel good. This is because some of the same brain circuitry that lights up in the feeling of love also is activated by hate.

So what’s the answer? The first step is always awareness. Some of us aren’t even aware that we are being judgmental! It’s impossible to change a behavior we don’t even consciously know is occurring. Start to notice when you have a long-standing judgment against someone or something and see if this judgment is still valid. Maybe the person or group has changed, and we are still operating out of the old story we had about them. 

We can become curious about our judgments. We can pull them apart and see if we can find the roots of a particular judgment, especially if it’s not serving us. Perhaps we can work to allow a judgment to be temporary instead of a permanent definition of someone’s behavior or character. 

We can always acknowledge that we don’t know everything there is to know about this person or situation. We likely only know a small sliver about them. We don’t know their motives or what may have led them to this behavior or personality trait. People change! Remember all those classmates you didn’t like in high school? When you meet for a reunion 20 years later, 

you’re probably interacting with the person you knew them to be in high school. Are you the person you were in high school? I hope not! Everyone has the opportunity to grow, change, and evolve. Setting judgment aside leaves room for us to tell a new story about someone. 

Once you are aware of your judgments, give yourself the grace of softening around them. Use judgment to keep you safe when necessary. And be ready to give up your armored coat of judgment by becoming curious enough to look again. That’s what I’d like for someone to do with their judgment of me. As Rumi is so often quoted: “Out beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there.”

1 Comment

Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
Mar 14
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Incredible content and practice!

Thank you, Theresa!

bottom of page