Two weeks back on Friday, when I was walking down to a meeting, I suddenly noticed an old man struggling to balance himself on the four or five stairs down the hill. I immediately stopped and asked him if I could help him and he readily consented. I made sure he was okay and asked him if he needs me to help him further down which he politely refused. He indicated that he will hold the railing down the footpath. I continued to be worried because of the steep slope and occasionally kept turning behind. I noticed he was slowly making his way down.
I immediately wondered why would a man at his age risk, going on his own, down such a steep slope. Why can someone not accompany him or why can he not take a different path? He is putting himself at a huge risk of falling by going down such a steep slope, especially when he seemed to be challenged with his balance. Then I stopped in my thoughts and asked myself who am I to pass judgment? I don’t know him or his circumstances.
My mother was in hospital for the past week on account of multiple fractures resulting from her fall. I was not able to go to see my mother. As I run my own business and also freelance as a consultant, my schedule depends on the assignments I get. Even if I could go, I had to be back within 5 days due to the commitments I have made to clients or firms with whom I am a consultant to.
Many members of my family and friends wondered as to why I did not go? My sister kept receiving advice from some family members that I should be asked to fly down. In all this, possibly many assumptions and judgment were made on myself and possibly my commitment level, my love for my family and many other aspects. In all those who were making decisions for me, no one asked me how was I placed nor did they put themselves in my shoes. How dare we in the name of experience and care, pass judgments on someone else?
Yes, when I saw the old man struggling to walk down, I did allow my mind to wander too into judgment and had to stop myself. I reminded myself of my parents who still like to be independent despite the challenges that they face due to their old age. Their willpower enables them to do many things. My parents accompany my sister on several errands that she runs. They do this out of their own free will. Telling them not to go anywhere or not to do many things that they do, will only make them feel dejected and dependent.
→How many times do we allow our bias to affect our choices, decisions, actions and how we say what we say?
→How much time do we spend judging others?
→What does bias or judging others do ?
⇒We shut our eyes to the difference around us.
⇒We are ignorant of what the other person is going through
⇒We stick to our assumptions and conclusions based on those assumptions. Why not be appropriately curious?
⇒We do not put ourselves in others shoes and thus seek not to understand.
⇒What is the value add of we judging others or being biased?
⇒We are self-centered and do not promote diversity or further inquiry
How do we stop our bias of judging others?
We are naturally biased and tend to judge others. Be aware and recognize that you are judging others in that moment.
When we judge we operate on auto pilot. So start by raising awareness within yourself when you judge. Recognize the emotion that you feel when you judge.
Our emotional response is habitual and we resort to default behavior. Permit yourself to feel that emotion, recognize it and let go. Keeping your emotions pent-up is not going to help your case.
3. Not in the know
None of us are in the know, all the time.
When you become aware that you are judging, you need to make a conscious choice to either let go of the judgment and emotion or hold on to them. What choice will you make in each of these moments? Negativity can also cause you to judge and criticise others. If you are in a vicious negative cycle, get help by speaking to your friend or family or taking the help of a professional coach.
Ask yourself if you would like to be judged? This gentle reminder to yourself helps you to let go of judging others.
It is easy to criticize, complain and condemn and it takes self-control and character to understand, observe, listen and forgive.
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