What Lives Underneath Judgment

I can be judge-y.

Clothes, bodies, comments, cars, taste in movies and Thai food - I've judged it all. 

And judgement's like sugar candy. The experience of it is great; the high of judgment is flush with righteousness. But it's short-lived, and soon, I feel crummy and isolated. Judgment is nothing if not a wall we throw up between ourselves and others - I'm either better, worse, but never alongside someone I judge. 

I've been piecing apart my judgment and what I've come to is that usually, underneath my judgment lives some form of fear - that my status is threatened, of being inadequate, unlikable, left out or behind, or of change.

But it doesn't stop there. Underneath that fear lives raw human vulnerability.

So often, my judgment is really my vulnerability hidden behind layers of emotional protection. Because it's safer to judge than to risk feeling vulnerable. 

It's not kinder, though. Judgment fences me off from compassion, generosity, warmth - all the things that connect me to myself and to others. 

So here's what I've been working to put in place. When my judgment roars in, I ask myself: Where are you feeling vulnerable? It can help guide me to a more tender place where I can see, Oh, Caitie, you're scared, aren't you? And then, I can bring some compassion to the part of me that's really scared. 

Like any practice that targets firmly fixed habits, this one's slow going for me. Sometimes, I judge without realizing it or I indulge in judgment rather than unpack it. 

Still, when I do the work to find the vulnerability, I feel softer and kinder. And I feel less isolated. For if judgment throws up walls between us, anything that crumbles it also returns us to our true state of shared humanness. 

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