Reserve your judgment
I was listening to a program recently about early education and the importance of allowing children to explore their creativity and imagination as part of their development and experiential learning about the world around them.
They were talking particularly about clay and art work and the message that came across was that you can learn a lot about the child from how they engage with the activity as well as from what they create.
The program also described that, up to a certain age, children engaging in these activities just start with a blank page or piece of clay without any external influence or suggestions and go from there. They don't compare what they create with others or judge it as good or bad, artistic or not, they are just enjoying the experience and creating work that reflects their imagination in that moment.
Around the age of five is when self-esteem starts to develop as part of our overall self-concept and we may become more critical of ourselves and our abilities as we start to compare ourselves to others, particularly if we feel we come up short.
If that continues, by the time we reach adolescence our self-esteem based on experiences, external influences and pressure is creating an internal dialogue that is likely to be negative and we then tend to judge ourselves harshly.
It isn't always us that we judge harshly. Being human, it's easy to form judgments about situations, events and other people based on our personal view of the world through our unique version of reality and what we believe is right and true or not.
While passing judgment may not always be harmful in its intent, it is frequently negative and therefore has the potential to be damaging to ourselves and others - particularly if we become stubborn and inflexible in our view.
So, we all do it at times but why do we judge? It can be because we want to make sense of something but only have certain information to go on, so our brain fills in the gaps and leads us to an assumption. The situation, event or person is something that challenges our own thinking and perception of reality or has us feel threatened in some way.
If we stop for a moment to consider what it is for us, we may realise that most of the time we know very little about what's really happening. We may only have fragments of information or have overheard or misheard something - all of which may lead to misinterpretation and incorrect conclusions.
We all struggle to understand ourselves and our motives at times, so judging others and what they are doing or not doing is absurd. If you find yourself making a judgment then it's worth reminding yourself that we don't see people as they are, we see them as we are. Therefore whatever you are judging them about is something you need to pay attention to in yourself.
Challenging? Yes, and also worth keeping in mind for next time.
Rowena Hardy is a facilitator and coach at mindsaligned.com.au