Stop Judging

I had coffee with a dear friend yesterday, one of my oldest here in this city. I needed his guidance on something and he gladly offered up his time.

As we sat and talked and laughed and shared our hopes and dreams and challenges I was struck by how much we have both been ‘made different’ through this friendship.

My friend is pragmatic. He can always serve up a dour perspective on life and the economy, on government’s and social movements that states, ‘we are all going to hell in a handbasket’. In his pragmatic approach I have learned to listen to and honour another perspective, to hear another’s voice with awe and gratitude. And in that hearing, I let go of criticism, and the need to change the other to my point of view and open up to learning and growing on the common ground of respect for one another.

I am less pragmatic, taking a more Pollyanna approach to life and living. I want him to see the goodness in all mankind, the possibility of ‘better’, the imperative of kindness and letting people be their experiences while ensuring no one dies on our streets. His response has generally been, “Then let them experience cleaning up, getting a job, getting on with life. It’s not a free-ride.”

When I worked at the homeless shelter, I struggled to convince him to see the world of homelessness through my eyes. And he resisted my insistence he was wrong to view the world his way. Go figure. Over time, I quit insisting he see it my way by admitting the errors of his way, and moved into a place where his way had equal voice. And in that shift, everything shifted. We were both made different. We both let go of our intransigent views and opened up to the possibilities of another way — another way that lead to the building of common ground for the mutual benefit of all. Where once the line was drawn and we could not cross the barriers of our convictions, the light has filtered in, creating softness in those places where once only hard rock theories abounded.

To make a difference in the world I must let go of my insistence that my way is the only way. Years ago, while healing from an abusive relationship that almost cost me my life, I asked my therapist, “If I’m an experiential learner, why is it I need such big experiences to get to where I want to be?”

And he replied, “There were a thousand paths you could have taken. This just happens to be the one you took. Accept where you’re at and stop judging the journey. Where you’re at is where you’re at. Period.”

To make a difference in the world I must stop judging where others are at and find the common ground of where we all live in a world where everyone has value and every point of view creates a world we can live in without fear.

 

 

13 thoughts on “Stop Judging”

  1. I can count on one hand the number of friends that I can agree to disagree with and have the conversation not turn into an argument. I would be holding up a count of one measly finger. I love talking to her because we can talk calmly about opposing things, listening to each other and understanding the other person’s point of view. For this, she is my dearest friend. I began letting go of controlling everything in my life a long time ago, but it seems the challenges are constantly put in my path. Like you, I learn the hardest possible way. Maybe it’s my path, maybe it’s maturity. Nevertheless, I am glad you share that journey with your friend. It is a thing to be cherished and you found a way to do that! Congratulations ;0)

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  2. “To make a difference in the world I must let go of my insistence that my way is the only way.”

    This is so hard to do in a world that seems to be splitting into polar opposite. You can’t talk about this…or that….or the other. Pretty soon, the only safe topic is the weather (over which neither person has any control! ha!)

    Our media thrives on the extremes. So to open the dialog, we need to question our narcissistic certainty and stop judging other people’s points of view. That would at least be a good start! One person at a time, one day at a time.

    Hugs,
    CZ

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  3. What you describe so well is a central tenet of IMAGO, and is often used in couples counseling, allowing each partner to receive the other’s perspective with an open mind. A shift really does take place when the technique is practiced as it’s meant to be used.

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