Recently I went to a networking event with a bunch of people I didn’t know. At one point we went around the room and everyone said their names and what they did for a living.
As each person spoke I noticed that each introduction was accompanied by my own internal running commentary: so inauthentic, so put on, so uninteresting, so bland.
I kept thinking that person after person was displaying how trite, derivative, and uninteresting we all can be. And then I suddenly realized how cruel I was being.
These people were all normal successful people, yet I was casting them as oafs, fools, and schmucks.
It’s totally normal for us to compare ourselves to others, but it rarely helps. I never feel good when I do it. Either I cast myself as better than others and feel guilty, or I cast myself as lesser than others and feel even worse.
Yet I know that no matter what I do, my judgments will arise. So what should I do?
Judgments are just thoughts, such as “maybe I should have eggs for breakfast” or “what was the name of that actor in the dinosaur movie I like”. Yet we give our judgments so much more weight.
We think that our opinions are insightful and true, but they’re just stories we tell ourselves.
Instead of judging, I try to connect, to understand, to listen deeply. I try to hear what’s behind the elevator speech and the polite banter. I try to hear the real person underneath. Because even under the thickest facade is a real person with the same kind of hopes and fears that I have.
Trying to get rid of judgments is hopeless. We will all judge. The opportunity for change comes in how we hold these thoughts and the people they portray.
The next time you notice yourself judging, forgive yourself but then also see what it’s like to just listen, without the story, without the agenda, and without believing that what you judge is what you get.