“Love is the absence of judgment.” ~Dalai Lama
If judgment is the act of labeling something as good or bad, then it seems we humans do it thousands of times a day. Those of us on a spiritual path even label judgment as a bad thing. We know that pain comes from judgment, but it’s such a part of our culture that there seems to be no way around it.
The Dalai Lama says, “Love is the absence of judgment.” And if that’s true, how do we get there?
From the time I wake up and ask myself if I slept too late to my nightly inquiry hoping that I made the best use of my day, I am in constant analysis of my choices. Did I eat enough, did I say the right thing, did I steer my client in the right direction?
It would seem that this constant judgment is the opposite of living in the moment—and I’m a pretty Zen person!
One of the problems of judgment is how it’s hidden in our society and labeled as responsibility. We are supposed to use metrics to track our progress, income, and effectiveness. We are supposed to learn new strategies and always be striving to be better.
When we judge ourselves as being “not there yet” or as a work in progress, then we’re missing the joy and perfection that exists in the moment.
I think that’s what the Dalai Lama had in mind with his statement that I referenced above.
I often catch myself doing the opposite of that in shower. I’ll notice that my shoulders are up to my ears and then ask myself, what is causing this? The answer always turns out to be a judgment. When I take a conscious breath and release the thoughts I have already projected on to the day, I naturally relax.
When I started noticing how insidious this natural reaction to judge is, and how it is linked to being responsible, I started asking some serious questions about what it means to let this go.
Would I be a bad person if I started planning my days from a feeling of curiosity and excitement instead of right and wrong? Why do I always think I know what the best answer is anyway?
I knew that I would be more effective, have more energy, and be a happier person if I let go of all this labeling. How would I do it, you ask? Simple.
The pain came from labeling something as good or bad. To rectify my anxiety producing ways, I just pulled into the neutral lane.
I stopped analyzing whether what I was experiencing was good or bad. I just let whatever came into my life exist.
I dealt with circumstances as they arose, and even if slow traffic or an unexpected bill threw me off, I did my best to observe and not to label. Who is to say that the person slowing me down wasn’t doing me a favor anyway?
After several weeks of conscious no-judgment, I was actually feeling more creative. I had a lot more mental energy to use in fun and productive ways. I could even see a difference in the way my friends and clients interacted with me.
Getting through my to-do list was easier, too. Instead of dreading certain tasks, I breezed through most of my list in the morning without much hesitation. I realized how unfairly I had treated certain things like returning emails and phone calls. Taking the emotion and labels off of these tasks actually made them go smoother and get better results.
Looking back on my experiment in non-judgment, I can wholeheartedly say that it was worth the effort. Besides, all I did was:
1. Notice where I was making a judgment. (What was I labeling as either good or bad?)
2. Stay neutral instead of applying one of those two labels.
And it may seem that this only benefited things that I had previously labeled as bad. That’s not entirely the case. I actually ended up receiving more “good” when I stopped judging.
For example, if I signed up two new clients in one week I may have stopped my marketing for the entire month. Now, I just keep going, as I’m inspired to do so. I also willingly accept more praise and affection.
It’s silly to think about how much we deny ourselves because we feel we’ve had “enough.” Letting life happen truly does reveal more love.
There are some moments in life when we are thrown to our limits. You have to decide for yourself how far to take this in the case of death, illness, layoff, or other life changing events. Some people find their brightest clarity when faced with the worst circumstances, but it’s truly a personal thing.
If you are used to using judgment at work or to make important decisions in your life, you may find it easier to start your experiment slowly. It can feel irresponsible to jump into this way of looking at things, and this isn’t about knocking you off balance.
To do that, simply bring awareness to where you are placing labels. Then decide if you’d like to keep doing so. There is no wrong way to go about this.
Just remember, when you’re not labeling something as good or bad, there simply “is.” Life is filled with truly awesome moments that we can enjoy when we’re using our energy to observe instead of analyze.
Photo by Vladimir Yaitskiy