I‘ve heard an old saying, “What you judge, you become.” I’ve elaborated on this with my own twist. “What you judge harshly in others, you may eventually become; what you judge compassionately in yourself through value judgments, you may eventually overcome.”
Toxic Judgments are Hard Work
NonViolent Communication (NVC) has revealed many insights to me. One is that the psychological labor of making toxic judgments and criticisms takes a lot of brain power. The toil of judging stirs intense “e-motions” which are, after all, e=energy in motion. The toxic feelings get stored in our subconscious mind as energy to be accessed down the road. These painfully toxic emotions pop up into the conscious mind when we’re under great stress or in dire situations.
Harsh, toxic judgments of others tend to be moralistic in nature. They imply that we’re somehow better than the people we are judging.
When we judge ourselves (or others) with compassion, we are making value judgments instead of moral toxic judgments. We might see some behaviors that are not in harmony with our deeper values. So we make a value judgment to help us find other ways to respond to situations. NVC helps us find new strategies more in harmony with our values.
Toxic Judgments Come in All Sizes
When we make toxic judgments of others for small negative deeds, we might actually do some of those deeds before long. This is because the unconscious mind stores those as ideas to use when we’re in a pickle.
When we indulge in toxic judgments of others for major negative deeds, it may take decades before we become that. Age changes or weakens us. Our unconscious mind slips those undesirable ideas into our consciousness. This tends to happen when we find ourselves in extraordinary or desperate circumstances. For instance, we may be feeling deeply hurt, lonely, angry, fed up, afraid, etc.
Toxic Judgments are not Sustainable
There is tremendous benefit in retraining ourselves to simply observe others without slipping into toxic judgments. This applies even when we see others do things we find reprehensible or unthinkable. Even when their belief system, religion or politically extreme views are totally opposed to our own. If we don’t want to eventually become that, then why make a moral and toxic judgment of it? It may be far more wise to focus instead on making value judgments for ourselves. This refocuses our attention compassionately on feelings and needs. It helps us to find creative new strategies that work.
NVC Shifts Us to Value Judgments
We can teach ourselves a more positive and peaceful way of responding to that which we don’t like or want. This is especially true when we see our own thoughts, words and deeds that aren’t in harmony with our values. Why perpetuate the painful habit of issuing harsh, toxic judgments of ourselves for what we don’t like about us? Why keep beating ourselves up emotionally? Instead, we can be supportive by noting we’re doing something that doesn’t serve us. Something that doesn’t serve our values. We can make note of the kinds of situations where we’re triggered to think or act in that unwanted way. Then we’re in a position to brainstorm creatively to find new strategies. That’s what can enable us to respond in a way more in harmony with our values.