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  • Writer's pictureTommy Cicero

The nonjudgmental approach

"Be curious, not judgmental."

- Walt Whitman

We have learned not to judge a book by it's cover, but it's human of us to make assumptions based off our initial impressions, whether it's people, places or things. Many people love jumping to conclusions before gathering all of the details or knowing all the facts. Is it a lazy approach? Perhaps. It also dismisses everything that lies beneath whatever it is we happen to be passing judgment on in the moment. To make matters worse, we tend to make our judgments from a negative approach, especially when observing others. We can't help it. It makes us feel better.

The big downside of being judgmental is getting it all wrong. We have all been there. It happens to me when I am quick to assume. I misjudge people's intentions and actions. I create false expectations about others. It's different to know a person's history and make more informed judgments, but even the people we know best pleasantly surprise us at times by defying our assumptions about them. These revelations have helped me learn how to not jump to conclusions so quickly. It's not always easy, but I have learned a couple of tricks to help me.

Photo by Neil Fedorowycz on Unsplash

I like using a Buddhist technique called beginner's mind. Maybe you have heard the Zen proverb about not being able to fill a cup which is already full. Essentially, it helps us to approach each new encounter with no agenda, expectations or assumptions. We simply observe as if it's our first time while ignoring any preconceived ideas in our minds. I also like reframing my negative assumptions to gain different perspectives on situations. It helps me understand how we all perceive things differently based on the lens we are looking through. Prescriptions will vary.

I also learned how the less I tend to judge, the less I feel like others are judging me. It does not matter if they are, since it's none of my business. Jesus said it very simply, "Judge not, that you not be judged." But again, we're only human. We may judge, but we have the capacity to judge less or not judge at all. We can abstain from drawing our own conclusions when we don't have all of the facts. It can save us from making false assessments and being wrong. We can choose to gather more info instead. Or not. That's up to us.

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