We are such a complex species us humans. We have evolved these incredible mammalian brains that can categorise, analyse, and differentiate between objects, situations and abstract ideas. We create incredible tools, machines that fly, and artificial intelligence to be applied in every realm of life. We need to admire our ability to create and make the unimaginable a new reality.
Part of this highly evolved brain involves our ability to judge things and discriminate between options. This means holding onto some ideas as worthwhile, discerning whether opinions hold enough weight for us to take them seriously, determining whether certain substances or foods are good for our body or not. We make judgements about politician, bosses, or our work environment. We judge the weather as good or bad, the restaurant vibe, or the present we received for Christmas as suitable – or not.
If we put a microphone in our mind to really listen to our judgements, we would all hear that we make thousands of them every single day. We start the morning judging whether we slept well last night. We may have a shower and have judgements about whether we look good or not, whether we like how our clothes fit that day, and we may even judge our behaviour with food or exercise over the last little while.
Our judgements come from the voice in our head. This voice is always there, always chiming in with some very important judgement of the moment. This is the ego. It’s always questioning and judging. Am I enjoying this moment? Am I unhappy with what my friend said to me last week? I am feeling so good! I don’t like the food in the fridge – it’s boring. This was the best day of my life! The judgements are either good or bad, positive or negative.
Our ego judges our friend’s choice to move away from the city, or their new partner as dull, or we judge whether we are earning enough money. We judge to make ourselves feel better or we judge to make ourselves feel worse. We can be especially judgemental of ourselves. I see this with my clients, and I call it the whip. I used to have a whip. I did the work to get away from that one.
It’s the whip others would never believe you have, where you give yourself some lashings. So many people don’t even know that they are judging themselves harshly. Their whip has been operating for so long, without their awareness. I never even knew I had a choice to put the whip down. Once I knew I could it was a game changer. I’d literally catch myself being self-critical and visualise gently placing the whip down.
The other form of judgement is reserved for others. We can judge others so swiftly without even knowing we don’t need to do this. We have no idea how judging others is actually a reflection of our own mind. These judgements hurt us more than they hurt anyone else. We can be critical of other’s ideas, values, behaviour, opinions, or work. We can be harsh on their body shape and size. We can negatively judge their parenting. We can be mean about their children.
There is no end to the topics we can judge about others and how they live their lives. Why do we do this? We do this because our fragile ego wants a little ego boost. So we tear others down a notch – in our own mind. We want to feel a bit better about our own lives, so we create a story about someone else’s inadequacies or failings in any particular area. This means we don’t need to be in contact with our own weakness or vulnerabilities. We project these onto someone else and pretend to ourselves we are momentarily superior. But deep down we know we’re not.
Sometimes we take it even further where it’s not just judgement in our own mind. We join up with others and gossip. Deep down we feel when we’ve been too severe or disloyal or unkind, and we’d hate someone to speak about us like that. That’s what the ego does – it likes to take others down, implying that we’re not like that. We’re ok and in the right place in our own lives.
But why would our ego do this? It’s afraid. It’s trying to keep us and those around us in a neat box to feel safe. Gossiping (or being judgemental) attempts to shape our social or work sphere to keep ourselves and others in line. We – the gossipers – are momentarily in the ‘in crowd’, and someone else is on the outer.
We all need to look at how our ego operates so that we don’t fall into the trap of taking it too seriously. It’s trying to keep us safe, nudging us towards life in a protected box. The more we understand our ego, the more we free ourselves of the continuous commentary and judgements of ourselves and others that occur moment to moment. And in its place is greater peace and quiet in our own minds.
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