Don’t be the judge

Humans are social animals. As such, we have evolved to place massive value on social acceptance. We have a strong desire to fit in. To be accepted.

From an early age we are taught what is appropriate behaviour and what is not. The people around us will provide feedback when we stray too far from the norm. Constantly, we are given subtle and not so subtle cues that indicate approval or disapproval.

We are being judged.
All. The. Time.

And we learn to judge others as well. Everybody judging everybody. Constantly.

But there’s a problem. We’re not very thoughtful or discriminate and we take shortcuts. Rather than judge ideas, behavior or speech, we just judge the person instead. And suddenly, we have changed what should be a feedback loop for social cohesion to a system of conditional acceptance.

You are good or bad depending on how you behave. Suddenly, the acceptance that we so desperately need is conditional. We are being judged. We are judging others. And worst of all, we are judging ourselves. And we’re all failing! How can we not fail? We try to get
approval from everybody. And there is literally no way to meet the infinite diversity of criteria, norms and standards of everybody. It can’t be done.

So we strive. If only I were a little more diligent, ethical, hard-working, good-looking, kind, rich… blah. Then, surely I will be loved and accepted. Then, surely I will love myself. But no matter how hard we strive, it’s never enough. We are never good enough. So we strive some more.

And because we are being judged so frequently and harshly, we feel perfectly validated to do the same in return. So here we are, we are all judging each other and ourselves and we are all failing. So we keep striving, hoping to reach a point where we are good enough to earn the love and acceptance that we need. From others and from ourselves. But we never get there. And we never will. So we need to strive harder! You are not good enough! Work! Damn you.

Or… we could stop judging. We just stop. We realize that we are all doing our very best already. We realize we shouldn’t judge the person. We realize it makes no sense to try to meet everybody’s standards. We accept ourselves, just the way we are. We accept others, just the way they are. We give and receive unconditional love. And we can stop striving. You’re good enough. Now. Just the way you are. Including your secrets. Including the blemishes.

Just the way you are.

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