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The latest catchphrase, uttered with a gentle voice and condescending smile, seems to be "I'm not judging but…"
I have some news for you. Everyone judges. Everyone, so don't try and pretend that you don't.
It is not possible to not judge. It is an automatic and instinctual reaction to any situation which causes an emotional response—which means every single situation we ever find ourselves in. We are human beings and we respond to the world through our emotions.
We have perpetrated the idea that spiritual "woke" people don't judge and, since not judging is an impossibility, it is yet another way to feel inadequate at being a human. It's another impossible attainment, like being five pounds thinner, 10 years younger, or having your underwear drawer organized for more than 24 hours.
Judgment is a given. It is what you do with it after it has raised its hackles that matters.
Judgment means, "the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions." That sounds like wisdom to me. Shouldn't we all be discerning in our lives with the choices we make? Use good judgment?
Yet, the secondary definition in the dictionary is "a misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment"—which sounds punitive and steeped in fire and brimstone.
So the train wreck happens when our personal, considered decision does not match with the decision that someone else might make in a given circumstance, which can result in finger-pointing and a desire to mete out divine punishment. That is when judgment goes all sideways like Baby Driver is at the wheel.
Let's back up.
We have an interaction with another person or witness an event.
We have an emotional response that rises up.
We flip through our mental rolodex: This is my past experience. This is what I know of this person's past experiences. This is how I imagine this scenario might play out based on gut instinct or old patterns.
Is the person's safety, health, or well-being at stake?
Is it pertinent for me to weigh in?
Can I voice my opinion in a respectful, honest, and loving manner?
Most importantly: if I do not voice my opinion, can I not allow it to smugly fester in self-righteous bile, internally making my life a self-imposed hell?
I would venture to say that all of our experiences are a direct result of our judgment. No need to ascribe "good" or "bad" to it. Oftentimes, great experiences arise from not the greatest judgment, and being overly discerning can sometimes result in a stagnant life. There is no recipe, but hopefully there is forward growth instead of deceptive repackaging of old patterns.
Different circus, same monkeys.
One person's so-called "bad decision" is another person's bold and courageous move. For one person, choosing to move across country with no solid job opportunity (but a strong feeling in their heart that that is where they would like to be) is courageous and honoring their heart's instincts. For someone else, who has a history of picking up and running at a moment's notice to escape their immediate circumstances, it may be more of a cautionary tale of avoidance and potentially "poor judgment." It is both freeing and maddening that there is not a formula or right answer for everyone.
Since judgment, hopefully, originates from a place of making well-informed, wise decisions, all we can do is ask, "How is your judgment working out for you?"
Never bludgeon anyone else with your judgment. And never, ever say, "I told you so."
Don't pretend you don't judge, that will only make me judge you and that never works out for anyone.
Jodeen Revere revels in her unconventional, multifaceted dream life. She is an actor, a writer, Thai yoga massage therapist, creative movement and dance enthusiast, and RYT-200 yoga teacher currently on an endless sabbatical. She writes a blog chronicling her cancertastic adventures. She loves writing, reading, viewing and heatedly discussing film, eating really good snacks, and chillin' with her cats Julian and Tilda. She is a kind and good-natured smart ass. She is very funny. Just ask her. Her favorite human, ever, is her daughter, Lily.