Judgment is the opposite of love. You cannot love someone when you are busy judging them. In her book, Judgment Detox, Gabrielle Bernstein defines judgment simply as "separation from love." Bernstein bases her 6 approaches for dealing with judgment on spiritual principles. She explains each of these processes in great detail. I found this book to be a powerful antidote to judgment.
In addition to Bernstein's book, I would like to propose 8 other strategies and attitudes that will help you become more aware of a judgmental attitude. Awareness is the first step to overcome any habit or tendency that you want to see less of in your life.
Be humble. I am not perfect either. I am no better than anyone else. I make mistakes too. Recognizing your own humanity and imperfection opens your heart's door to be willing to be more accepting when others don't measure up to our standards or expectations.
Be curious. Rather than shutting down or becoming defensive when you encounter someone who is different from you, become curious. There are thousands of species of birds, flowers, trees and wildlife. In a similar way, each human is unique with different strengths, personalities, values and beliefs. Be curious about these differences. Celebrate the uniqueness and find the beauty in everyone you meet.
People are doing the best they can. Assume the best in others. Don't judge someone just because they aren't doing it exactly the way you want them to. We all have different abilities and talents. I am definitely not good at fixing things; I hire someone to do that for me. If you accept that people are doing their best, what more can you expect?
Walk in their shoes. Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is an event held in many communities where men and boys walk in high heels to show solidarity for sexual and domestic abuse against women. While these men actually walk in women's shoes, we can also figuratively try to walk in someone's shoes to try and understand the challenges that person faces in their life. It is difficult to judge someone when you truly understand what they are going through.
Opinion is not necessarily truth. When you are talking with someone who holds an opinion that is divergent from your own, try and recognize that the conclusion you have arrived at is just your opinion. It may or may not align with what is the actual truth. A sincere and humble search for truth, not just our own or someone else's bias or opinion, results in true intellectual discourse rather than judgment.
Stop judging yourself. The truth is that many times it is the things we judge ourselves for in our own lives that we most harshly judge others for. Perhaps you can pause in your harshness and take a long, reflective look at yourself. Are you trying to camouflage your own weaknesses by projecting them onto others?
Everyone has a story. In my work as a mental health counselor, I have marveled at the background stories that have led my clients to the place where they are today. Each homeless person has a unique, often heartbreaking story of why they are living on the street. Each individual who is addicted to drugs has faced challenges in their life which has led them to the use of drugs. It is so easy to judge these individuals, but when I stop and listen deeply and compassionately to their story, I recognize that if my personal circumstances had been different, I might be where they are in their lives.
Enjoy and celebrate differences. Meeting people from different backgrounds and cultures can be an exhilarating experience. Wouldn't life be boring and uninteresting if we were all the same? If we are close minded and judgmental, we cannot welcome someone who is different from us. The upcoming annual Sunfest in London, Ontario is a perfect opportunity to feast our senses with world music, food and culture. Let's open ourselves up to the delightful experience of diversity.
If you can apply these 8 basic attitudes to your own life, I'm convinced that you will find yourself becoming more loving and less judgmental. Remember that a positive, happy and optimistic person doesn't have the time to think about the flaws in other people.