While it is easy to judge, it will only harm your own wellbeing says DESPINA NICOLA

Our learned patterns are anchored beliefs from childhood. We view them as facts. We protect our patterns of belief with pride. We use them to judge our situation and others. I am the first to be guilty of faulty judgments, as shown in this example:

A friend of mine, let’s call her Betty, was having an affair with a married man. Questioning my judgment of what kind of person Betty was, I was disturbed by her being with another woman’s husband. The affair she was having was difficult for me to fathom.

Betty’s husband, James, seemed like a good man. He was the life of the party, complimented my cooking, and he seemed to love his family.

However, behind closed doors, James was malevolent, abusive and controlling. He would beat the children for not doing their homework properly and sometimes, he would even beat Betty. She and the kids were in danger; it was a clear sign to get out. But I had no idea.

Mark was a rock for Betty, he stayed with her when she needed him. He walked her through the most daunting period of her divorce and was always there for her to lean on. He was the man she longed for and turned to.

She left an abusive relationship with James. Mark counseled her and encouraged her to be determined. Finally, Betty became the strong mother and businesswoman she knew she was capable of being. She was able to find the strength to live alone and trust her own decisions. After a while she realised she did not want to share Mark with another woman and ended the relationship with him too, although she was so grateful to him for his unwavering support throughout her ordeal.

I realised that my negative pattern of judgment needed to be rectified. What I had seen in the past was not reality. So I made it my mission to become a more accepting human being.

Ways to free yourself from negative patterns

Breaking the pattern meant I had to go into my past and see why I was so critical of others. The way I did this was by doing the inward work. I started unpacking every area of my life. First I looked at who was I judging at work, home, on social outings and then taking the responsibility to see why I thought I had the authority to judge these people. Then I looked at my life to see who had judged me.

I found that I too had been judged a lot. I had come from a family of achievers and I had difficulty to reach my siblings’ academic benchmark. Some members of my family made fun of my achievements and I felt to be loved I had to go to university too.

For a manageable life, and a life of freedom, clearing out the emotional baggage of the past is imperative. I saw how I had created it and sought step by step amendments. This started with one small promise which was to be disciplined enough to not criticise people, and seeing everyone as a reflection of myself in a mirror.

I started to be kinder to myself and realised that judging is common practice. We all have our own stories and experiences that have made us and shaped us into who we are today. Just like everyone else I am not perfect and I have made mistakes and so instead of being nasty to myself and others now I have made it my mission to understand and empathise. I now go out into the world and practice compassion towards others. Just as I had no idea what my friend Betty was going through, before judging others we should give them the benefit of the doubt.

When I was critical of how Betty was running her life it took a mental and emotional toll on my own wellbeing. So now instead of looking at others I look at myself and focus on my own growth and improvement. And when I concentrate on myself I have no time to judge others. I choose to create a more positive and accepting environment for myself and those who live around me.