This post is long overdue.
Remember my Try Not to Judge post? Well, in the comment section, someone asked this question:
"What exactly qualifies as a "judgement" of someone? Perhaps a person doesn't necessarily judge you about your life-story, etc. I just wonder, do you have a *general* definition of judging that people (I) could use to keep in mind? I have always been confused about what the difference is between judging and keeping yourself safe...(does that make sense?)"
Nearly 5 weeks later, here's what I can tell you... and, as always, this is life according to me- so you can take it or leave it :)
One word comes to mind:
We have to judge. We have to. Every minute of every day, we must evaluate and then make choices. This is life. If we didn't make proper judgements, who knows what kind of scary, stupid or risky situations we would find ourselves in.
But I do think that there is a BIG difference between judging unfairly and discerning keenly.
Here's how I look at it.
When I'm driving my son to school Monday through Friday and I see the same couple on the street corner, day in and day out, begging for money, I think the same thoughts every time I pass them.
Sad. They are druggies. They have a few teeth left, open sores cover their faces, beer cans and cigarettes line the sidewalk, and their skin has aged the way a chronic drug abuser's would. Thus, I will not be giving them my money today.
And I never do.
Now, could I be totally wrong about this couple?
Maybe they are hungry and would use my money for exactly that? I genuinely hope so. But, given what I know... I am pretty confident that I am making a proper assessment of the situation and I don't feel bad for thinking it. I'm using my ability to judge well and I know that there are places they can go for help.
This type of judgement, however, is MUCH different than just making a blanket assumption about someone when you know nothing whatsoever about them.
Let's say you have a really drop-dead GORGEOUS neighbor. Her husband is very good looking and they appear to have the perfect set-up: stunning house, extravagant cars, exotic trips, fancy clothes, expensive jewelry, perfect hair, etc.
You think she's a snob- a total snob. When she is around at block parties, she is quiet and conceited and too good for you, and so you don't give her the time of day. And at night when you're laying in bed after the BBQ, you tell your husband all the reasons she bugs you and why she is this and that.
(have you ever done this? lol!)
Now, could this neighbor lady really be self-centered and arrogant?
But what if... what if... she really isn't a snob? What if she is just really shy? What if she is going through something awful in her life? What if she is insecure and doesn't know how to interact with people? What if she is feeling the same way about you, that you feel about her? What if she wants friends but doesn't know how to make them?
It is this type of scenario that I think can be a bit unfair... and this goes for just about anything really.
Just because someone has money, we assume they are cocky and too cool for school.
Just because someone uses government assistance, we assume they are lazy and want free handouts.
Just because someone is overweight, we assume they just eat too much and have no self-control.
Just because someone is thin, we assume they have an eating disorder, telling them how "sick and skinny they look and that they need to gain weight"
Just because someone is pretty, we assume they are shallow and into themselves.
Just because someone is not the best looking, we assume they are nerds or not worth our time.
Just because someone is divorced multiple times, we assume something is wrong with them.
Just because someone never married, we assume something is wrong with them.
It is these types of JUST BECAUSE thoughts, the ones where we assume things about people, that are so destructive.
Could the skinny person have a disorder?
Quite possibly. But not always. Maybe they are just smaller in frame and always have been?
Could the family on food stamps be mooching?
Maybe. But what if they aren't? What if both parents are working 2 jobs and still can't make ends meet and are needing some temporary help to feed their family?
So until you know... until you know enough to be almost certain... it's best to not make those sort of judgements.
NOW, if it involves your safety... then I say JUDGE away. For me, I would rather be safe than sorry and I never ever ever ever ever give people the benefit of the doubt when I feel that it could jeopardize my well-being. No way!
The door salesman could be the NICEST guy ever... and he might be selling the most solid product.... but if I feel weird about it and I'm home alone, I won't answer the door.
Same goes for dating. When I was using Match.com, if an email felt weird... I shut it down. He could have been the world's sweetest man... but if my creepy guy detector sounded, I trusted my gut and followed it.
This is how I live my life.
If it's an obvious judgement (like the druggies on the corner), I make it and move on. If it's a trivial or unfair or totally rude judgement (like the ones I listed), I try to step back and remind myself that I know nothing about that person. And if it's a judgement made when my safety COULD BE involved, I trust my gut no matter what. And I never feel sorry or guilty for it.
So there you have it- my idea between judging unfairly and discerning keenly.
I've found that the more I'm reading and seeking individual therapy, the sharper my discernment skills are becoming. I may not always be accurate, but I've learned that by trusting myself and using the fine intellect I have been given, I am able to make good judgments.
I have also found that when I open my eyes and hearts to those who I'm making premature judgments against, I am generally quite surprised at what I discover. Usually those people are not at all what I had initially labeled them to be and actually, many of them have become some of my greatest friends and acquaintances.
**THOUGHTS on this today? Anything you'd like to add??
*Hope this helps you, Anonymous :)