Marilyn Briant is the author of The Pax Principles - a Red Ribbon Winner 2020, in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards (UK)
Judging Myself and Others
I believe it would be hard to find someone who doesn’t think they have made any mistakes in their life. And I can certainly admit to having made my share! Sometimes I even wonder if I have made more than most. Perhaps it is this fact that often helps stop me from being judgmental.
Even so, there are times it is all too easy to fall into my “old” ways. When I am listening to a conversation in which someone is criticizing others, I can be tempted to join in. Or if a friend shares judgmental thoughts about what someone else has said or done, I feel like I want to agree and share complaints about other people’s behavior.
It isn’t always easy to do what I know I want to do.
Perceiving Mistakes Differently
What works is reminding myself I really don’t want to go there. That contributing to negative energy in the world is not what I want to do. I have the choice to suspend judgment. And if I take a moment to reflect on my own past actions, I will decide to perceive another’s words and actions from a place of understanding and love, not fear.
Yes, perceiving things without judgment—from my heart—is what feels good. Is what gives me more peace.
But at first it was hard for me to do this. When I thought about my own behavior, I found it difficult to accept those mistakes were not failures but were for my own good. I thought about what I had said and done that was not loving or helpful to me or others and felt bad. I regretted what I judged as poor judgment or selfish, unkind ways.
I couldn’t see my mistakes were necessary in order for me to learn and grow.
But I have since discovered that acknowledging my own mistakes doesn’t have to lead to feeling guilty or ashamed about what I have done. It has a more positive effect if it serves to simply help me be less judgmental. If it helps me move on with peace in my heart, recognizing the value of what I learned, and with the intention to be kinder and more accepting.
Knowing There Are No Mistakes!
After all, what is the point of dwelling on the past—on what we did and what we could have done? Isn’t it far more beneficial to review our actions without shaming and blaming by withholding judgment and deciding to do things differently going forward? And, if our behavior seems to have caused someone else’s distress or hurt, wouldn’t it be more compassionate to be forgiving to ourselves and send loving energy or light to them?
Remember that old saying: people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones? This is what often comes into my mind when I observe my own judgmental thoughts. Haven’t I done things I feel are wrong? Why am I criticizing others when I have done similar things?
And here is another thought: How can I know what is or isn’t a mistake? What makes me think I know what someone else needs to learn from the path they are taking?
Maybe the truth is there are no mistakes. After all, what we have done provides opportunities to learn and grow—brings us closer to knowing and living from who we really are. And helps us make better decisions now, helps make us stronger.
I think it is more helpful to perceive they weren’t mistakes at all. After all, they have taught me about what is important, what feels good. That I don't need to judge myself or others. Whereas thinking about past decisions as having failed or let myself or others down, means I am holding on to negative energy. It is draining and soul-destroying. It isn’t helpful.
Having regrets too, only takes away from the peace I’ve found. Takes me away from recognizing how much awareness I have gained. From knowing I have grown stronger from the experiences.
It feels good to let go of the past. It feels good to perceive most things—including mistakes—with love and compassion. So why not allow the mistakes to guide me in making better choices?
As I readily admit, it isn’t easy to change. My fear-filled ego loves to point a finger at all that is wrong with me, others and the world. It wants me to feel bad, to disturb my peace.
But I know I don’t want that for myself. I want to accept that every unpleasant and disturbing situation is helping me live from my heart. I want only to acknowledge how much I have learned from them.
I want to focus on making better choices, allowing the past to teach me how to live in the now. To choose to be non-judgmental—to come from my best self and feel peace.
Virginia Allain from Central Florida on January 27, 2021:
I try to think of my mistakes as learning experiences. If at first, I don't succeed then figure out better ways or shift my goals and move onward.