I have discussed the illness of judgment before. It is a difficult pattern to break. Many of us unconsciously participate in this toxic behavior. The current cultural gestalt has further opened the door for flinging this destructive energy. It can give us further permission to feel justification for verbal and mental vomiting. As if any was needed, but here we are.

We can say, “I’m not judging, I’m just saying it like it is”. We need to understand that there is a difference between identification and judgment. We can see an object, person, or behavior and take a mental note: “This person is angry”, “That is a cruel thing to say”, “I totally do not agree with that statement”. This is identification and that is where we want to stop.

The next steps can easily flow into judgment: “I hate this”, “What an idiot”, “That is so stupid”.  We can slip from identifying something or someone into judging it or them. This sounds simple enough, but without examination - our mind will constantly run wild. It is a habitual response that needs to be reprogrammed. For some of us, this is true much more than others. Gossiping falls into the same category on some level, as it is communal judgment: two or more people sharing in this destructive behavior.

Spiritual practice is first and foremost about observing our mind. If we are serious about being on the path, we need to be vigilant about paying attention to our mind. One of the ways to do that is to be aware of the automatic responses that pass as normal.

There are several levels to the damage that judgment can have. When we throw judgmental energy at others - they actually do feel it, no matter how subtle. As do we, when we are on the receiving end. We are all connected regardless of how contrary it might seem. This is what all spiritual teachings share with us. It is a real thing, not some bizarre concept. Sit with that truth and examine it.

Remember that it is ourselves we are judging whenever we engage in this behavior. Always. Literally, whatever we label someone, that is ourselves we are talking about. It is unaccepted aspects of self that unconsciously get projected onto another. That is why we need to do our psychological work - so we can see what aspects of ourselves we have disowned and, in turn, project onto another.

You deserve better than that. Be kind and loving to yourself by being kind and loving towards others. That does not mean to be weak or allow another to trample over you. It simply means to stop your mind at identification. Be engaged in the world and do your part to bring healing in whatever way you feel in your bones. Just remember: how we are in the world is as important as what we do.

Here is an invitation to stand guard at your mind’s gate. Pay attention to the automatic responses that your mind might have. Your heart can not be at peace if you are in judgment. Judgment is the mark of a closed heart. The only response to a culture of divide and conquer is to unite and emancipate.