Practicing nonjudgment is an exercise in empathy and compassion – for yourself as well as others.
The first step (which was the biggest and most difficult for me) is to set aside any notion of an objective morality. This is the idea that anything is universally “good” or “bad”. (In practice, it’s deontological.)
Even though we can all agree that murder is bad, the truth is that a lion on the savannah doesn’t care what we humans do, nor about any morality pertaining to the animals it kills to survive. Therefore, it’s not quite FACT.
So, what we adopt in place of an objective morality, is a subjective morality. This is the idea that opinions are not facts. Each person has their own perspectives, based on their own unique experiences, and none are objectively “right” or “wrong”.
You can then look at things in terms of what’s “good” or “bad” for YOU. This is a beneficial stepping stone, but it still vibrates at a judgmental frequency. In this state, we can very easily fall into traps of “My way is (objectively) better than your way.”
Of course, we do need to *judge* things – assess them, discern, and make determinations. The optimal frame for this activity is ALIGNMENT.
But first – why does any of this even matter?
The main problem with judging from an objective morality is that it inherently creates separation, which invariably leads to dehumanization, and ultimately: violence in the name of righteousness.
Now, you might ask – isn’t there judgment embedded in that statement? Doesn’t it imply that violence is objectively “bad”? (Kudos if you caught that.) In answer: hold tight. I’ll get to that.
The other, more personal problem with judgment, is the detrimental effect it has on ourselves. More on that, as well.
It’s elegantly simple, really, though not as easy to implement. Mainly because it’s hard to break old habits. (Also… ego.)
Instead of judging things as good or bad, we can practice nonjudgment by assessing them in terms of whether or not they are aligned with our values and goals.
Considering things that affect us directly, we can assess them thusly. (Especially beneficial when observing our own behavior.)
When we’re looking at things that others are doing, we can determine THEIR values and goals, and assess accordingly.
A note on Evil:
If we’re confronted with things that others are doing that don’t affect us directly, but do clash heavily with our values and goals, we can take action against their behavior, without judging or condemning the person.
Judgment is like an operating system for our minds. When we run on it, it gets applied ubiquitously – to ourselves as well as others.
The problem with the Judgment OS is that when you are trying to refine yourself, change your habits, practice vulnerability and authenticity, or develop any new skill, when you judge your inevitable mistakes, you sabotage the growth.
It’s like stomping on a seedling every time it sprouts.
So, what’s in any of these supposed “problems”, you might ask? It’s not that violence or sabotaging growth is objectively “bad”, it’s that they are counter to the values and goals of myself, my clients, and humanity at large.
I don’t know – maybe they’re not opposed to your values and goals. That’s fine between you and me, personally, but I’m still going to act in opposition to them. No judgment. Just alignment.
It takes a compassionate perspective of Oneness.
Recognizing that we’re all connected, and that we all share in the human experiences of pleasure and pain.
Acknowledging that we’re all doing the best we can, each implementing the strategies we are most familiar with for getting our needs met.
Respecting the individual sovereignty of each of us.
More practically, though, the key lies in replacing judgment with CURIOSITY.
When you’re ready to be the change you wish to see in the world, this practice of nonjudgment will be here for you.
(Updated March 16, 2021)