Things happen all the time that we don’t want to happen. Big things might include death, disease, divorce, injury, and job loss. Smaller things might include spilling the spaghetti sauce on the counter or being slightly late to an appointment. Humans are sponges from the time we come out of the womb, learning things all the time, and one of the things that we learn right away is to judge things as being good or bad. This kind of basic judgment is so commonplace that we take it to be our birthright. To judge things as being good or bad is just such an obvious thing to do, and nobody really questions it. Here at A Clean Mind, though, we question it. This is because if we really look, we might see that we aren’t really qualified to judge… anything. And if we aren’t qualified to judge but we keep doing it anyway, then this will inevitably bring us some pain. And like much of the pain that we talk about here, this pain is self-inflicted. And that’s the best kind, because it means we can do something about it. Inner peace, here we come!
Speaking of peace, the novel War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy has 1440 pages. It’s a very long book. And no, I have not read it. Even the movie is too long for me… If I were to open up this book to some random page, hand it to you, ask you to read one random sentence, and then ask you to tell me what the book is about, you would laugh at me. You’d tell me that you couldn’t possibly know what the book is about because you have such limited information – you’ve only read one sentence, which is a tiny fraction of the whole thing. Only an insane person would think that one sentence made for a qualified judge of that huge book.
Well folks, when it comes to judging things as being good or bad, almost all humans are totally insane! This may sound unsettling at first, but you’ll learn to get comfortable with it… The reason we’re not qualified to judge things is that we just don’t have enough information to do so. We don’t have enough information, so we are not qualified. So let’s stop the madness.
There are two major areas in which we don’t have enough information to judge. The first involves time. Our access to the past is skewed heavily by our memory, and we don’t see the future yet. Think about all the times something terrible happened and some time down the road you saw it differently. You saw that you ended up much better off from that experience. Maybe you were in a bad relationship or a bad job and it ended, but not on your terms. You thought it was the end of the world, and then you found yourself in a much, much better relationship or job. You ended up being thankful that you got dumped or fired. But thankful is the last thing you were feeling when it happened! So when the end of the world happens now, let’s keep this in mind and just stay neutral on judging.
Another major area in which we don’t have enough information to judge involves other people. The fact is that I just don’t know what’s best for everyone involved in a particular situation. If I really tell the truth, I don’t even know what’s best for me! So I should be careful when there’s a situation involving other people and I’m tempted to judge it as being not good.
So what’s the problem with judging, anyway? The problem is that it basically amounts to saying, “Life should be different than it is right now.” But life is as it is right now! So we want to accept it and deal with it as best we can. The alternative to judging is just staying neutral. What happened has happened. What’s the next step? Whatever it is, just do it. The commentary in your head that’s going on about how bad this or that is does nothing but make you feel worse. Oh, and it also tends to make you less equipped to actually deal with the situation. Not good.
Judging happens so automatically that it might be tough to catch at first. Or it might be totally obvious right away. Judging goes right along with what I’ve written about timing, too. Same idea. The trick is catching your judgy stories earlier and earlier and then training yourself to stop in that moment and get out of your head. After a while, you’ll notice that you’re becoming much more neutral when things go south. You’re accepting what happens in life without the drama, and you’re dealing with things as needed. And you’re more peaceful and better at handling tough situations, all at the same time. Good job!
So when you’re telling yourself that something is bad and this is making you feel even worse, remind yourself that you’re not really qualified to judge. You haven’t seen the whole of time play out, and you don’t know what’s best in the end for everyone involved. You might also want to use our nice tool and tell yourself right away, “This has happened.” I’m not saying you should be jumping for joy every time your car breaks down or your dog dies. I’m just saying that tough situations are a part of life, and we have to deal with them. We can deal with them either with or without the story that says how much they suck. That story makes things worse in my experience, and it’s nothing more than a habit we’ve picked up since we were young. And habits can be re-programmed with knowledge and then practice. You have the knowledge, so it’s your option to practice. That’s a great option to have, too. The goal is always more peace despite life’s ups and downs. As always, let me know if I can help!