Do you recognize the situation of cheerily walking down a street and when passing by a gloomy person, your mind goes: “What a grouch, doesn’t she realize how lovely life is?” Or another day, when you’re particularly happy with you’re outfit, you just don’t understand why some people don’t seem to care at all about what they are wearing? Or, you see people arguing in the grocery store and you think: “Oh, that can’t be a happy couple!?” Or, and this is one of the more horrible ones: you see a screaming child and an equally screaming mother, and you’re thinking: “Poor child, what kind of mother does is that?”
The other day, I was enjoying a cappuccino in a nice little café, watching people come and go, and automatically forming some kind of opinion about them, when I suddenly had a revelation about the most judgmental people also being the least self aware ones. It makes sense: the less we are aware of our own shortcomings, the easier it is to judge someone else for theirs. Well, it’s hardly a new concept, evidently the most famous metaphor describing it comes from the bible, we all know it, it’s something to do with the one being without fault casting the first stone… Therefore, experiencing this insight as a big aha-moment might seem somewhat exaggerated. Nevertheless, for me, there is a different quality to a realization coming from within, because it is more intrusively asking me to reflect on my own attitude.
I find it interesting in a rather disgusting way, that some kind of judgement seems to happen so quickly and automatically about people we don’t know. Within seconds we’re forming first impressions. I suppose there is some intelligence to it, from an evolutionary perspective it obviously makes sense. However, if we don’t stop to carefully scrutinize our judgments, we might end up with pretty distorted impressions of people.
Because… The gloomy lady might just be tired and feel worn out after a demanding day at work; people might have more important things to pay attention to than their outfit; even happy couples argue (sometimes in public); and most importantly to remember: even the most loving parent might lose patience with a hysterical child and become equally hysterical.
I have been a sloppily dressed, grouchy lady walking down the street, having an argument and at the same time losing patience with my child.
I’d rather feel loved, than judged at those times. Well, any time, really.
I realize that the insight I had about judgmental people was horribly judgmental in itself. I think it’s more fair to say, that we ALL probably are less prone to judge at those moments when we ourselves are grounded in an acceptance of our own messy humanness. Holy cow, what a sentence. But I do believe it’s true!
3 thoughts on “First impressions, self awareness, and judgement”
Oh Simone, I can so relate. I find myself doing this too. Then I stop and automatically send blessings to the person. Or imagine a Light surrounding them or angels. I try to catch myself when I start judging. I wish I didn’t judge too. I think all of us can relate. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I so agree and “relate”. But I do sometimes have FUN with judging, particularly at airport terminals. I build vast stories about people, sometimes including a sketch or two. But I know just what you mean about how automatic, almost reflexive, our judgments come. I worked for several years to “get over” judgments about weight, and I have gotten pretty good at looking for the meaning, purpose – the soul – of the bag of bones and flesh before me. Yeah, yeah, pretty good is not good enough (my inner critic says) but I’m “getting there”. Feels good, too.
I thought about the weight thing when I wrote the post, but chose not to go there. Maybe it will be a separate post. I find it’s a really heavy (no pun intended) issue, since even I, who am myself overweight, am working on my judgements about it.
Thanks for commenting, I so appreciate it!