My sister and I have this game in which we often call each other names to ever-so-subtly point out how the other is behaving (just in case we didn’t know it ourselves). Some examples are:
While this might seem strange to some, these names almost always snap us out of our moods and made us laugh at the silliness of our behavior.
Judge McJudgerston is the term I use when I, like many, unknowingly judge others. We all do it, right? Every day, we judge strangers…whether we’re aware of it or not. We look at the way they’re dressed or the expression on their faces and we make assumptions about who they are. We judge coworkers (just the other day, I made the assumption that a coworker was lazy because in truth, I was just hurt that was she unwilling to help me). We judge friends for their actions. We judge family members when they do something that upsets us.
So why do we do this?
In her article, Judgement Calls, Sally Kempton writes:
Unleashing our inner judge can give us a quick hit of superiority. We feel smart when we can wield a skillful insight or pinpoint our parents’ mistakes or the pretenses of our friends, teachers, and bosses. Moreover, judgment fuels passions—a sense of injustice, sympathy for the underdog, the desire to right wrongs. It gets us off the couch and into action. For many of us, judgment and blame are a kind of emotional caffeine, a way of waking ourselves from passivity.
Ah ha. “Emotional caffeine.” And just like coffee, if you drink too much of it, it’ll leave you with a headache. In my case, I judged someone who I love very much. Not only did I let my ego take over like it was suddenly Joan Rivers selling jewelry on QVC, I stood tall on my soap box, blamed him for how his mood affected me, and pontificated about how wise I was.
Tossing blame around the room like it’s free candy is never a good idea either. Sally explains:
“The ego doesn’t like unpleasantness, so it squirms, looking for a way to avoid the feeling. At this point, we start to explain to ourselves why we feel uncomfortable and to look for a way to fix it…The irony is that if we could let ourselves feel the discomfort without assigning blame, that very discomfort would connect us to our real source of wisdom and strength.”
While none of us is infallible, we can all be more aware of how we knowingly or unknowingly judge others. The next time someone does something that upsets you, stand outside of yourself (as Sally Kempton suggests) and look at your discomfort for what it really is. Do you really have the time or energy to carry around negative emotions for hours over one small incident? I know that Judge McJudgerston does not. She’s looking to change her name.