Post-Election: Time to Stop Judging

December 2016

It’s an interesting time in history with the recent election combined with social media and the ability to comment on news articles.  On one hand, the Internet is a great way to connect and share opinions.  On the other hand, it creates a destructive environment of judgment, attack and shaming others.

Facebook and the news stories are filled with wide-sweeping labels and judgment.  Even the “take action” articles that people post on their Facebook timeline – are typically filled with angry, negative, shaming and self-righteous statements to support one perspective.

Is it ok to have opinions related to a definition of right versus wrong?  Yes.  Is it acceptable to live your life based on morals/values? Absolutely – it’s called your conscience. Is it ok to hold a belief that a person’s behavior is wrong?  Yes. Is it acceptable to label any human being as bad, stupid, ugly or worthless?  No.

You can hold onto your own morals by deeming a behavior bad – but you cross the line when you call a person bad. What you don’t see, don’t understand — is that your judgment leads to suffering, division and pain.  You inflict pain when you judge and that pain can boom-a-rang back at you when friends or family get hurt by your judgmental ways.

Ask yourself: Am I tolerant of all people – except those that think differently than me?

Do you think you judge fairly?  You can’t possibly know the interior soul of another person – because you don’t walk in their shoes.  Judgment closes your eyes, ears and heart.

As human beings, we make up stories in our head to support our viewpoint:  “They voted for that candidate because they don’t care about the environment — are socialists — are xenophobic — are feminists — are weak — are single-issue voters — are morally bankrupt — are racist”.  Your story is not the tuning fork of truth. It’s a story.

3 Reasons People Judge:
1.  You feel judged
I once had a friend jokingly say, “I’m not judgmental.  I only judge those who judge others.”   You cannot and will not change another person’s judgment with a response of judgment.  Actually, you seal the deal of being judged when you speak to others with your own voice of judgment — and the burn of resentment is fanned inside you and others.

2. You are scared
When a person is scared or feels unsafe or intimidated – they bind together and attack others who think differently.  Post-election, people are afraid they are going to lose something or are fighting to regain something that was taken from them by the previous rule of authority.   People bind together on Facebook and news feeds to express fear and blast those who feel differently.  The reality is that judging provides no sense of rooted, long-lasting security.

3. You feel helpless
Change can create a feeling of “something is being done to me.”  Judgment gives a person a sense of power and control in a misguided attempt to get away from being controlled.  People believe that by putting big negative, shaming labels on others – they’ll get that other person to stop.  The result is perpetual helplessness and more judgment.

6 Ways to Stop:
1. Cut back on your news consumption.  The media sells stories by stirring the pot and jumping to conclusions. Stay in the present moment. There’s no point in imagining the worst case scenario when it might never come to be.

2. Notice your thoughts.  When they go negative – push them in a positive direction or move away from the triggering event or take a positive action step.

3.  Stay off Facebook for a while.  If you feel an immediate urge to respond to a negative post – don’t.  If friends trigger you on Facebook, unfollow them for a while.   Don’t re-post articles that contain language that is demeaning.  If you have negative, shaming comments on your timeline — remove them.

4.  Ask those around you to stop judging.  Judgment begets judgment. Discuss the issues — not the badness of the person.  Listen for the common ground.

5. Avoid sweeping statements.  Stereotypes are never, ever good – and perpetuate division. Don’t use broad-brush labels (feminist, stupid, socialist, racist, hippie, homophobe, gun toter, redneck, etc).

6. Look for change in yourself.  Do something other than complain about the past President or the President-elect.  No matter if your candidate won this election or not … make a difference in peaceful ways and get behind what you believe in: write a letter to elected officials – volunteer – pray – visit the elderly – sponsor a child – ladle soup at a local kitchen – plant a tree – carpool to work — join a goal-oriented advocacy group.

Remember how it feels to be judged, bullied, shamed and misunderstood.
Now stop doing it to others.

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