“Once in a golden hour
I cast to earth a seed.
Up there came a flower,
The people said, a weed.”
― Alfred Lord Tennyson
When spring rolls around, my garden is filled with birds all looking for a spot to nest and raise their young. They are very territorial, and inevitably fights break out as they did this past May with the hummingbirds. There are clashes as one bird runs another out of a nesting box or destroys a nest or fights over a feeder. And there are times when some try to run me out of my garden….darn swallows.
But there is one rule in my garden, that we must treat each other with respect and kindness. I know these are birds, and they are driven by primal instinct, but I still do have to have a few words with some birds.
Yes, I know I am judging the actions of birds based on my own perceptions of life, and it is rather silly. But no more silly than when we judge others and their actions based on how WE think they should act. I find not judging ourselves and others is a difficult habit to break. Last week I focused on accepting myself more, and judging myself less. Now I am drawn to this habit of judging others, and how I am trying to lessen these instances of judgment too.
Of course it is only natural that we judge. We judge someone innocent or guilty in a court of law. We make ‘judgment calls’ as we make decisions. And it is human to look at a situation, and think if we would do the same thing or how we might change a situation. Most of the time, these judgments are based on our way of looking at the world. It does not usually consider the other person’s life and reasons for their actions as we don’t always know these. And am I so perfect, that I know for a fact that I have never behaved in this way or ever will.
Is there so little compassion for other’s and their lives, their trials, their imperfections? Can we not forgive, move on or try to help instead? And here’s another thought….their life and actions are not about me. Someone did not just cut me off on the highway because they didn’t like me, or my car or simply because they were a jerk (OK not usually though). Perhaps they were delayed and know that if they don’t get to work on time they will be fired. Have I ever been in such a hurry that I cut someone off…I am sure I have, and usually I wasn’t even aware of it or said, ‘oops sorry but I’m in a hurry.’ No excuses for our behavior, just the reality of life as it streams by.
When I hear my judgy voice start, I also hear my dad’s voice saying….’now Donna, you don’t know the circumstances…have you never felt like this before.’ And I begin replacing the judgment with either compassion or a ‘let it go’ attitude instead. After all when I am in a judgment frame of mind, it is usually followed by anger and frustration. And who wants to feel upset.
We all have our own taste in things…we know what we like, and what we don’t like. But it is when I start judging others by my likes, that I need to step back. This is where I started my change in thinking about judgment. So I don’t like Rap music. OK, but I don’t have to judge someone as having no taste in music if they like it. You’ve heard the judgements: why can’t a neighbor keep a more attractive yard free from clutter….then there are those outfits we see some people wearing out in public…what were they thinking….it goes on and on.
So I am starting to practice less judgment and more compassion. I can dislike someone’s behavior, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them or think they are a jerk. I have a choice really. I can let it go or have a compassionate talk with them about it. I can educate them, and model a different way. But in the end their behavior is about their lives, and where they are on their journey. I cannot change their behavior, only they can if it is what they want.
And there is no point in labeling their behavior selfish, stupid, mean or any other name you want to pick. Because it has no meaning for them, and it just adds to negative feelings for me. I can’t stop anyone else from judging others, but I can be a model of compassion instead. And hope that with my showing more compassion toward others, they might judge less.
Special Note: The flowers shown here are yellow marigolds. In The Language of Flowers, yellow marigolds represent self-judgement.
I leave you with more thoughts about judgment. Feel free to download this photo and share.
All other photos and original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2015. Any reprints or use of other photos or content is by permission only.