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Releasing Judgment and Allowing Others to Have Their Process

 “Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.”  ~Sri Chinmoy

We live in a world of judgment. We qualify everything in varying degrees of right and wrong, good and bad, pretty and ugly.

We are taught from earliest childhood to judge everything and everyone. We label our days consistently, using adjectives like “beautiful” or “horrible.” Even the weather is not immune!

The presence of judgment is pervasive in our lives, yet subtle enough in some cases to pass unnoticed. 

I have worked for years at ridding my life of all judgment, but it’s far easier said than done! Just when I begin to think I’ve eradicated all traces of the poison, it pops up again, wearing a new disguise.

One of the most valuable lessons of my life was witnessing the presence of judgment when I least expected it…

Many of us on a so-called “spiritual path” find ourselves sorely challenged when we observe the suffering of those around us. This was especially true for me when my mother was dying.

In the last days of my mother’s life, she was in severe, physical pain.  It’s hard for me to put into words the extent of my discomfort as I watched her, and the effect it had on my personal belief system.

For years, I had lived with the belief that “all is well,” that regardless of any appearance of disharmony, there is a destiny, a plan, order in this great universe of ours. As my mother lay dying, I could not reconcile the image of her suffering with that belief system. 

I found myself regressing to the questions I’d lived with throughout adolescence. Why is there suffering in the world? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is my mother being punished this way? This isn’t fair!

For many years now, I’ve been blessed with the good fortune of having an individual in my life whom I can count on for perspectives of peace in moments when I’m floundering. I called him up as I was thrashing around in this confused mindset.

No sooner had I finished telling him how unjust it was that my mother was suffering in this way, than he knocked the wind out of me by saying, “Tiela, stop judging your mother’s process.”  The words floored me.

Judging? Was I really judging what my mother was going through? Yes!

Not only was I judging it, I was condemning it, and in some sense condemning her life—in fact, all of life along with it! I was not even respecting that there might be wisdom or a divine plan operating in my mother’s experience that I was unable to see.

I had decided that even though I wasn’t in my mother’s shoes, I knew better than she did, better than her higher self, better than the universe! I knew that what she was going through was “bad” and “wrong.” 

Furthermore, by deciding that my mother was experiencing something against her will, I was seeing her as a helpless victim instead of an evolving being on a path of consciousness. At the very least I was doing my mother a disservice. Potentially, I was even adding to her pain.

The minute I became aware of what I was doing, I was able to stop by realizing that my attitude was actually doing harm to this person that I loved.

It’s never pleasant to witness what we call “suffering.” But it’s a form of arrogance to assume we really know what’s going on and whether or not it’s necessary for someone else’s life.  Truthfully, it isn’t any of our business. 

Our job is to walk our separate paths with presence and awareness, to be available for people when they ask for our assistance and, when they don’t, to allow them to have their process.

I am certainly not suggesting we live our lives without compassion, but there is a world of difference between compassion and pity. The former is an expression of love that emanates from respecting a person’s essence. The latter is a cloying, negative emotion, toxic in nature and void of all respect.

Pity is one of the many, clever disguises judgment wears. In fact, it is impossible to “pity” someone without seeing them in a position that is inferior to our own. Such an attitude is judgment, pure and simple.    

The only way we can truly assist anyone in a challenging process is by releasing all judgment and seeing her or him for the empowered being that they truly are.

Photo by Trang Nguyen Xu

About Tiela Garnett

Tiela Garnett is a life-coach and writer. She has created the site Personal Guru to assist you in empowering yourself through connection to the Master Teacher within your own life. Contact her for inspiration or one-on-one coaching at Personal Guru and visit her new site pathofthetrueself.com.

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  • Very moving words, these, “Our job is to walk our separate paths with presence and awareness, to be
    available for people when they ask for our assistance and, when they
    don’t, to allow them to have their process”.

    We all have power within, to be implemented in a way that is right only for us. Thank you for the reminder.

  • Melisa

    WAO!! That is beautiful! Thank you

  • Lv2terp

    This is FANTASTIC!! This is something I have struggled with my whole life, and greatly appreciate your words of wisdom! I really love when you said “Our job is to walk our separate paths with presence and awareness, to be
    available for people when they ask for our assistance and, when they
    don’t, to allow them to have their process.”  Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lv2terp

    This is FANTASTIC!! This is something I have struggled with my whole life, and greatly appreciate your words of wisdom! I really love when you said “Our job is to walk our separate paths with presence and awareness, to be
    available for people when they ask for our assistance and, when they
    don’t, to allow them to have their process.”  Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Well Said!!! 

  • Summersunday8

    Hmmm…I’m a bit confused – “by deciding that my mother was experiencing something against her will, I
    was seeing her as a helpless victim instead of an evolving being on a
    path of consciousness” are you saying your Mother willingly experienced pain and suffering?

  • Shiva

    I received this post yesterday and didn’t get a chance to read it so reading it now. I am surprised to realise that I had the same question in my mind yesterday and then got the answer by the Divine force within 10 mins. We all are equipped with all the answers to the questions that our mind generates. Our moments of realisation are different. We are able perceive our awareness only when these thoughts arise in our mind.  We all are different and we grow at different rates, whether it is physical, mental, emotional or spiritual.

    Acceptance, such a big word and yet so simple to decipher. When we are sick, we don’t accept that we are and we complain and feel weak or ashamed in discussing about our problem, because we think people will judge us. The sad truth is that we our judging ourselves and preventing our natural side to enjoy any kind of happiness. Our happiness is in our hands and has no dependent variables.

  • JusMe

    I just had an eye opening experience reading this!  Thank You!  I love it!  “Pity is one of the many, clever disguises judgment wears.”  I’m going to try and remember this every day of my life!  

  • chice

    LOVE!  What a necessary and brilliantly written article!  Thank you!

  • Yes, but not necessarily from the perspective of her human mind.  I believe that our journey on earth is navigated by the highest and best in ourselves.  That part of us knows exactly what we need for our growth.  We also have the option of learning our lessons easily and with grace, but this requires tremendous, consistent discipline.  Sometimes, we postpone our lessons, which makes them more intense when they come. In other words, through resistance, we create harder lessons for ourselves.  But here I go again!  If I’m not careful I will be moving in the direction of judgment!  Only my mother’s Higher Self knows how and why she got to that point.  It’s important for me and for all of us to trust Life.  Ultimately, pain is just the contraction that precedes birth…

  • Thank you for your appreciation!

  • Bret

    What a great post .  Couldn’t have been timed more perfectly for me.  Thank you.

  • Lindarp3

    Beautiful and insightful!!

  • Pam

    Wonderful! Saving to read often. Thank you so much

  • Thank you for this, Tiela. I have long been subject to judgment from my family, much of it unfounded. To counter that, I developed my own judgment about them. My mother was the buffering agent between us, often tempering or causing to be tempered the negative things we might utter. She left us a few weeks ago after a protracted bout with Parkinson’s…against which I also railed endlessly. Now we are both at rest. And free. I can release all from my judgment. It is almost as easy as the annual molting of feathers as I opt for the drop of so many reasons for contention. If the others choose to retain negative opinions of me, that is their weight to bear. They are what they are and will be. I never did have control over that, and even less reason now to carry that burden.

    This reminds me of a story:

    Two monks were making a pilgrimage to venerate the relics of a great Saint. During the course of their journey, they came to a river where they met a beautiful young woman — an apparently worldly creature, dressed in expensive finery and with her hair done up in the latest fashion. She was afraid of the current and afraid of ruining her lovely clothing, so asked the brothers if they might carry her across the river.

    The younger and more exacting of the brothers was offended at the very idea and turned away with an attitude of disgust. The older brother didn’t hesitate, and quickly picked the woman up on his shoulders, carried her across the river, and set her down on the other side. She thanked him and went on her way, and the brother waded back through the waters.

    The monks resumed their walk, the older one in perfect equanimity and enjoying the beautiful countryside, while the younger one grew more and more brooding and distracted, so much so that he could keep his silence no longer and suddenly burst out, “Brother, we are taught to avoid contact with women, and there you were, not just touching a woman, but carrying her on your shoulders!”

    The older monk looked at the younger with a loving, pitiful smile and said, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river; you are still carrying her.”

  • Greggriffith71

    Thank you

  • JCM

    Thank you for today’s heartfelt message. It immediately hit home as I read the title and I couldn’t wait to read the rest. The message to live in the present without judgement is something I desperately needed to hear as I struggle with the decision to stay at home with my newborn or return to work in a few months. It’s a heart wrenching decision because of today’s economy and I grapple with the fact that most moms today have to help with the household income in some way shape or form. The first article serves as a reminder that I should relish in the extra time I have with him before returning to work if I choose to return. He is my greatest miracle and present so I need to be fully mentally engaged to enjoy his presence. Thank you for writing such inspiring messages!

  • Tamy Bass

    Thank you ! 

  • Thank-you. This has expanded my thinking about compassion & pity and how my need to fix things has, at least in part, to do with how someone else’s suffering (to one degree or another) makes me uncomfortable…and so my compassion has not always been so altruistic. This was perfect and has given me much to ponder.
    Blessings to you. 🙂

  • Judgment is one of our biggest challenges as humans, Mark!  Someone pointed out to me recently that “all judgment is self-judgment.”  In other words, someone else’s judgments can only touch us if, somewhere in us, that judgment resonates…  We all need to be more accepting – of ourselves and of others.  We’re human – we’re supposed to make mistakes.  Thank you so much for your beautiful comment.  Keep writing!

  • Follow your heart – that baby will only be a baby for a short time!  It might be worth being a little short of money for a while to be able to enjoy and support your son’s life.  Or maybe you could work from home…  Above all, don’t allow fear to navigate your decision!

  • It’s interesting – several people have told me that the timing of my article was perfect – it’s great how answers come when we’re in the “flow”…

  • Jr_cal

    Thank you for the lovely article. However, I am unsure of one certain thing. If there is no judgment, does that mean there is no right or wrong in this world? E.g. Murdering?

  • Mary

    Thank you so much for this powerful message. It is life-changing and profound.

  • Thank you so much for this insightful question!  Such a wonderful question, in fact, that I’m planning to devote a blog post to it at http://www.aparisstateofmind.com  For the moment, though, let me say that a more life-serving perspective than “right vs. wrong” would be “balanced vs. imbalanced.”

  • Thank you all for your appreciation and support!  Based on your response, I realize the need for more articles along these lines.  Visit http://www.aparisstateofmind.com within the coming week for more…

  • Wearing a hat of critical attitude towards the  process in our lives will only lead to unhappiness for ourselves and others.  Let’s work on developing a non-judgemental attittude towards ourselves and others. 

  • Skywind

    “Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is my mother being punished this way? This isn’t fair!”  

    Sometimes people can respond that way because “I feel powerless to help her” is even scarier.  If bad things only happen as punishment, that implies I can control what happens by controlling my own actions.  I might feel a sense of responsibility, or a sense of security; an ability to make an impact.  How much scarier is it to realize that I am powerless?  That pain and suffering happen, and I cannot fix it, and cannot avoid it, and the only thing I can do is be present to it?A judgmental mindset can arise as a defense against something deeper – the awareness of, and fears about, illness and mortality, which some of us are privileged to ignore in day to day life because we and our loved ones are (temporarily) healthy and strong.

  • Tielag

    Excellent!  Bravo!  Judgment = Fear

  • Lorenamiami

    What an enlightening post. Thank you so much Tiela _/_.

  • WOW.  really thank you for sharing. i feel like a light just came on and freedom. of course! the wisdom here is priceless.  i am sorry for your mother’s suffering. through her experience, your experience and the sharing of this story you have definitely helped me and it sounds like others too.  thank you.

  • Carolin

    I’ve never seen this most tricky of all questions answered that beautifully and clearly. Thank you so much.

  • amelie

    As a hospice worker, NO ONE should go through the dying process in severe pain.  The goal in current medicine is for people to be comfortable.  With this care available today, it is CRUEL, not “pity”; to allow someone to persist in that state of suffering. Yes, sometimes we sure should judge!  And at that time your judgment should have been to stop your “spiritual” musings, get on the telephone and ask the MD for a stronger dose of pain meds.

  • Neal

    Could it be that we are judging Judgement itself? Maybe then judgement has its place, and happiness can come through the knowledge that whatever I do in this moment right now will change regardless of whether Im judging it or not, and whether I like it or not.

  • Adarsh Surania

    “Truthfully, it isn’t any of our business” What if the “suffering” or pain the person(our loved one) is going through is partly or may be due us. Then should be done regarding it?. Totally agree with the concept, we are not aware the experience is necessary for them. But again what if we feel we are responsible or partly responsible for it.