We all try to be non-judgmental, but no matter how kind you are, there are bound to be some personality traits that you have difficulty tolerating. Think about it. Who makes your blood boil? Selfish people? Perpetrators of violence? People who are unaware of how they’re affecting others (like bad drivers)?
In a previous post, I described the theory that we are all born equipped with every characteristic of every human that has lived before us, and we are subsequently programmed to become acceptable, ‘nice’ people.
Let’s look at selfishness as an example. You were born with the capacity to be selfish, and you developed into a thoughtful person as a result of your environment. Perhaps you experienced the effect of another’s selfishness and resolved to be better, or maybe you were taught that selfishness is a very undesirable trait by your family. Either way, you have disowned a part of yourself. One of the problems with this, is that we are not necessarily skilled at refining our personalities when we are young and while being selfless is nice, we may have also lost our ability to put ourselves first in an appropriate way.
Generally, these traits that we have disowned are also the characteristics we judge most harshly in others. We don’t allow ourselves to have them and when we see them in others it actually sets off a little alarm. Have you ever seen an obedient child watching a ‘naughty’ child? Usually they get very worried and protective of the rules and start to tell tales. It’s the same with us. Somewhere inside us a child panics “THIS IS NOT ALLOWED!”. If we are not able to have certain characteristics, we are certainly not going to tolerate them from anyone else –in fact, it feels unsafe.
Interestingly, more often than not, we are guilty of the same traits we judge. Having disowned something doesn’t mean we don’t do it, it just means we do it without awareness. For example, I always judged stinginess very harshly and when questioned about it I proudly insisted that I didn’t care about money and would always attempt to pay more than my share. What I didn’t realise was that there are other ways to be stingy, and I had to (grudgingly) admit that I was stingy when it came to love.
So, an experiment. Think of something you can’t stand about someone (your partner or parents are a great place to start!). Maybe it’s immodesty, rudeness, ignorance, racism, lateness, messiness, carelessness. What happens in you when you have this thought? Where do you feel it in your body? Maybe you experience anxiety or a tightness in your chest or stomach.
Now think about the ways in which you might exhibit this characteristic. Would anyone in your life say that you are rude, for example? Are you rude to yourself?
It may not be in the same situation, or to the same extent, but you too have this trait. It’s certain that you have it, simply because you’re human. Notice what happens when you recognise this. What happens to the sensation of the judgment?
So be gentle with yourself. Allow yourself to be flawed and human, just do it with awareness. The more you can accept ALL of yourself, the less you'll experience judgment of others, and the more peace you’ll have in life.
If you can legitimately see a negative (or even a positive) trait in another that you cannot locate within yourself, I'd LOVE to hear from you, either in the comments or via PM. Be brave and share what you’ve discovered!