I’m trying to be less judgemental. It isn’t easy, as you’re about to read. Try not to judge me, okay?

One day, I was out walking my dog along the boardwalk.

Suddenly I noticed a little girl standing all alone. I was concerned. She couldn’t have been more than three-years-old. Four tops. She wasn’t crying but she wasn’t smiling either.

She was looking around very seriously. First, to the water south of the boardwalk, and then north towards the park. It wasn’t until I got close to her some 30 seconds later (count that out —  it’s actually a pretty long time) that I saw a woman and smaller child, most likely her mother and little brother, hiding behind a tree giggling.

I walked past the girl and then looked back to see if she’d located them. She hadn’t. I was furious. Sure, I’m trying to be less judgemental but seriously, who in their right mind thinks it’s funny to trick your daughter into thinking that you’ve abandoned her?

I stopped and waited to see how long that mother could keep this horrible game up. A few seconds later, the little girl spotted them and ran towards her mom in tears. The mom received her with a hug and more giggles. I continued on my way, shaking my head in disbelief.

—  Related reading: The Inspiration Edit shares this poem about  The People Over the Way  —

In my neighbourhood (nearly) everyone has a dog.

Some large, some small, some young, some old, some cute, some not-so-much — but never have I seen one as ridiculous-looking as the poodle that came trotting towards me shortly after the above incident.

I know I should be less judgemental but come on! Talk about humiliating. This poor dog had been shorn within a millimetre of his (yep, definitely a boy) organs. Any shorter and you’d have seen what he’d had for breakfast. The only evidence of his former furry self was a lion’s mane, a pompom tail and a furry bracelet around each ankle.

Either he was being entered into some Best in Show competition or his owner was completely off her nut. I rolled my eyes (some people, huh?), and continued on my way.

That’s when I saw Baby.

Baby is a scruffy little grey dog. But Baby’s not the issue. It’s her owner. You should hear the way she talks to this dog. “Oh Baby, look, there’s another little one? Are you going to come and say hi? Oh, I know you’re shy, aren’t you Baby. Yes, you are. I know you are, sweetheart.” News flash lady: Baby is a dog. Not a human being. And you sound completely crazy.

WHAT??? Hold on a minute.

less judgemental

Whatever happened to being less judgemental?

The fact is, I’m just as obsessed with my dog as this lady is with Baby, so she’s no crazier than me. In fact, not long ago my husband asked me if I loved the dog more than I loved him and I paused for an uncomfortably long time before replying “no?” as if I wasn’t quite sure whether I’d answered correctly.

Oh, and once I gave my dog a Mohawk. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I used a styling product to maximize the effect. What was I thinking then?

As for proud parenting moments, I once bullied my daughter into accepting eyedrops by saying, “Fine, don’t blame me if your eyeballs fall out.”

— Related reading: Are you a judgy woman?

Given my own obvious imperfections, why was I being so judgy?

For the same reason we all tend to be judgy, I suppose.

By calling out other people’s wrongness, we get to elevate our rightness. It’s nasty and that’s not who I want to be, so I devised a plan. I decided that next time I witness questionable parenting, a naked dog, a fashion crime, or a quirky dog lover, I shall ask myself this question: “What’s all that about?” And unless I can answer with 100% certainty (fat chance), I will endeavour not to judge. Instead, I will indulge my curiosity.

Less judgement, more curiosity.

In his post entitled Letting Go of Judging, Leo Babuta suggests asking yourself these questions when you notice yourself passing judgement:

  • Why are you judging?
  • What expectations do you have that are unrealistic?
  • What can you guess about what the other person is really going through?
  • Can you find out more? (This isn’t always realistic but sometimes you can.)
  • What about the other person can you appreciate?
  • Can you get out of your self-centredness and put yourself in the other person’s shoes?
  • Can you imagine a time when you were going through something similar?

At the end of the day, being less judgemental boils down to empathy. Empathy and human kindness. And I would like others to judge me as being someone who demonstrates both as, no doubt, would you. It’s not always the easier road, I know, but it’s definitely the higher one, don’t you think?

Viv for today xo

(Originally published May 2017)

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