I have another idea about this journey we call life that I would like to explore. It goes like this, "My journey is just that, my journey. Your journey is just that too, your journey." Sometimes it's easy for us to make the assumption that we know what is "right" or "wrong" for someone else's journey. The truth is that unless I've had the exact same life experiences, and have the exact same personality, and have the exact same hopes and dreams, and the exact same everything, I can't possibly know what your journey is exactly and therefore have no real ability to judge what is "right" or "wrong" for it.
It's interesting how we can feel like we are an expert when it comes to someone else's life, but then not be an expert at handling our own problems. I have fallen into this mindset on occasion, offering up my commentary, advice and opinion on how someone else should lead their life. Even to the point of feeling good about my life and my choices in comparison to the other. This mindset is scary and can lead to a dreary place of judgment which is easy for us to feed off of if we are not careful.
A philosophy that I am working to live by is not to judge someone else's choice or reasoning and not to offer up unsolicited advice. Typically, our judgment of others is a reflection of our own self-judgment. Our own self-judgment is so normal to us that we often don't even recognize it. Ponder that one for a moment. It can be a tough one to recognize and acknowledge.
Another trap I sometimes catch myself in is that as I seek change for myself, it can be easy for me to to seek or expect that same change for others. Making a determination for how others should behave or what is acceptable for them. Have you ever noticed yourself doing this too?
Life is truly a journey filled with joy and celebrations, but also with lessons, hardships and heartache. The roadway will not always be straight and smooth, but rather it may be windy, bumpy and full of challenges. Some of these challenges will test us...our courage, our resilience, and our faith. Sometimes these challenges are really blessings in disguise, they make us stronger and teach us valuable lessons.
If our path is "perfect" or always the "right" one and we never experience "failing", never detour, then our opportunity for growth and learning life lessons is also diminished.
Wouldn't it be better if we all respected each other's journey and put our focus and energy on our own journey through life? Realizing that our journey is solely ours and nobody else's and vice versa. Embracing our own personal journey and letting go of the need to judge someone else's. Using our mental energy and our time to propel ourselves forward instead of diverting our focus by judging others or playing the comparison game.
Blogger Maria Moraca offers up some strategies that I've found useful to help transform judgments:
1. Use a pattern interrupt - When you catch yourself having a defining thought about someone, step back and ask, “What do I really know about this person?” Often, the answer is a version of “not very much.” This behavior acts as a pattern interrupt, and forces you to stop and consider where the judgment is coming from.
2. Switch to praise - When you hear yourself criticizing someone, stop and take a moment to come up with one thing you like about that person. Then praise them, out loud, for that quality. This is another version of a pattern interrupt, and is also a reminder that they too are human, and like us all, have both attractive and not-so-attractive qualities.
3. Look within - When you find yourself in one of those incessant loop thought patterns of judgment about someone else’s behaviors, ask the hard question: Do I myself exhibit this same behavior or attitude that I judge in this person? Almost always, the answer is yes (not that one always comes to that yes easily). You probably already know that the stuff that irritates us the most about others tends to be attributes we don’t necessarily realize we ourselves have.
I invite you to embrace your own journey more fully and to release judgment about the journey of others. It's a practice and it takes effort to get better at it. Your life experience and journey is solely for you and their life experience and journey is solely for them.