As human beings we are predisposed to be opinionated; to be judgmental. When we see something that doesn’t fit in with our opinion of ‘right’ we tend to believe the other person must be in the ‘wrong’. I don’t believe there are many of us who could actually say that we do not think or have thought this way at some point in our lives. Afterall, we all have life experience… and our opinions on how life should be lived “correctly” are based solely on our own personal experiences. The fact that we can recognize this thought pattern however, can be enough to change our perspectives.
In many cases we do not voice our opinions/judgments of others. The thoughts stay lodged in our brains; filed away on some imaginary tally sheet for future reference. With the popularity of social media sites, however, our thoughts are being heard like never before.
Every day we are bombarded with posts and news about our peers, celebrities, politicians, etc. Most if not all of the posts are written with the opinion of the author being the deciding factor in whether or not the information will be positive or negative with very little focus on the facts. We as a society have gotten to a point where we even search for our own motivation and validations within judgmental memes and photos. How many times have you seen a post with the line: “A real man [fill in the blank with whatever the author is or prefers]”, A real woman has [fill in blank with whatever the author is or prefers]”? I was always under the impression that the X and Y chromosomes decided whether you were a “real” man or woman (and with today’s technological advances, even that is no longer true), not our peers.
Why is it we as a society feel the need to be “right” and deem others “wrong”? The only logical explanation that I can see is that as a whole we are a society of insecurity. It is a hard truth to swallow, but isn’t all logical explanation? Think about it. It is important to us to feel that the way that we choose to live our lives is the “right” way. It’s important to feel that the values we hold dearly are also held dear by our peers. It is important to feel as though we are accepted by others. We are constantly looking to prove ourselves to everyone else and if it takes showing others that you are ‘better’ than someone else than so be it. At least you aren’t the butt in this joke, right? Survival of the fittest? What happened to United We Stand, Divided We Fall?
As we struggle to constantly prove ourselves to everyone we fail to remember that the most important person that needs to accept us as we are… is us. Once we accept ourselves for who we truly are, the good, the bad and the sometimes ugly, it’s possible that we won’t feel the need to make judgments of others for how they live their lives.
It takes less than a second to realize when you are making a harsh judgement of someone else but to reframe the thought takes much more effort. The next time you find yourself thinking negatively of someone for their appearance, financial situation or shortcomings try to stop the thought. Remind yourself that you may or may not know this person’s entire story. Try to put yourselves in their shoes. How would you feel if you were on the other end of the thought? Ask yourself why you are concerned with another person’s life choices. Is it because you actually admire a trait they have that you do not? Understand that your negative opinion of this person does not benefit you in any way… the little jolt of self esteem when you determine you are worth more than another human will be very brief. Consider the fact that every one of us in the entire world has a few things in common. The hierarchy of human life only exists because we allow it and we don’t strive to improve it.
Opinions will never cease… but judgments can. The more often we are able to catch ourselves in a judgmental thought and evaluate it, the less frequent they will become. I challenge everyone to try it (myself included). Let’s try to love ourselves and understand one another rather than prove our dominance. How much better could everyone’s lives be without seeing/hearing/feeling the negative thoughts on a daily basis?