Good judgment



Greetings from my alter ego, Smartypants, who knows everything and gives the best advice, which, let’s face it, you are just stupid if you don’t follow.

Today’s topic is judging; as in forming a judgment. Recently I was having lunch with a friend and, during our conversation, I told her that I start out every morning with the intention of trying to be a better person and, of course, I usually fall short. I said that I “try not to judge anyone”. Later I realized that wasn’t really an accurate statement because, in fact, I judge people all the time. A more accurate statement would be that I judge people but try not to condemn them (obviously, there are behaviors we should all condemn – hopefully, I don’t need to list them here). A better way to describe my thought process would be to say that I make judgments about people and their behavior based on my life experiences, what I have learned, and what feels true to me but, I try to add kindness and compassion to my judgment. I try to judge people by their character and actions, not by their circumstance or appearance. There have been times when my judgment has told me “this is not a situation I want to be in” or “this is not a person I want in my life” and sometimes I ignored that. I honestly believe that my worst decisions were made when I ignored or second guessed what my judgment was telling me – usually because I thought I was being unfair. Being unfair to others was such a big deal to me that I didn’t recognize when I was being unfair to myself! Yes, as usual, everything leads me back to self-love and self-respect.

I think our ability to judge is one of our God-given gifts, actually one of our survival tools, but most of us need some experience and maturity before we can fully trust it. If you’re uncomfortable with the word “judgment” replace it with “assessment” and you’ll realize how essential it is to have the ability to intelligently assess situations and people. After all, in its most fundamental form, doesn’t your assessment protect you from danger? It took a long time but, I finally stopped second guessing my judgment when I understood that it is closely linked to my conscience and instinct. If I listen to the voice of my conscience and honor that feeling in my gut I know I’m well on the way to forming a judgment I can trust. Judgment can be looked at as the foundation of good decision-making so, if your judgment is based solely on the opinions and thoughts of others, your decisions won’t align with your own inner compass. I know because it has happened to me more than once. The good news is that, with some self-awareness and effort, you can correct your course.

I know some of you will disagree but, I don’t think judging makes you a bad person. The word discernment comes to mind. My judgment helps me decide who I will trust, who I will allow into my life, and which actions will best serve me but I know it is not infallible so, I rely upon my humanity to prevent me from misusing it. I don’t think of my ability to judge as a way to indict others or something that is carved in stone but merely a guide as I navigate through life.

Good judgment comes from experience. Sometimes experience comes from bad judgment. ~Rita Mae Brown

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