What a joy when you buy something, take it home and the label effortlessly peels off, leaving not a trace of gummy guck behind. However, when the opposite happens and it stubbornly adheres to your new item, whether it’s a gift or a treat for yourself, it’s horrible. Not only is it frustrating to spend time trying to remove it, but what is new begins to look used and old. The half-peeled paper cheapens the product regardless of the amount you paid for it. Somehow it seems devalued.
The same thing happens when we label others and ourselves. Another word for it is judgment. And when we affix the judgment with super glue, it can take years to unravel the truth.
Pretend you are about to meet Jim for the first time. A good friend of yours has made a critical comment about Jim beforehand. How does that affect you when you meet him? Are you open-minded and free from judgment, or do you keep reading your friend’s label planted firmly on Jim’s shirt that says, “Jim is boring.” Do you take the time to find out how you feel about Jim? Or do you walk away thinking, “I don’t like boring people”?
The biggest trap to fall into is that of making careless and cruel comments about people. It is equally as difficult to remain immune to the disparaging remarks and innuendoes spoken by others.
How we treat people is simply a reflection of how we feel about ourselves. When we value ourselves, we cannot devalue another. Secure people do not put other people down. They accept others as they are and look for their positive qualities.
That does not mean smiling on a bad situation or tolerating harmful behavior in another. It means intuitively understanding people and situations and knowing when and when not to act or speak.
There is a vast difference between judgment and intuition.
Intuition allows you to discern the truth about an individual or situation. It works to protect you and helps you to make healthy decisions. Judgment, on the other hand, is a critical assessment that stems from fear. It’s cold, calculated and limiting.
Intuition presents you with insights that lead to actions that are thoughtful and loving, no matter how tough they appear to be. Intuition is a response, not a reaction. Intuition is healing, not harmful. And it arises from the voice within that can only be heard when there is no judgment taking place.
It’s challenging to refrain from making snap judgments about others, especially when everybody else is doing it. But the truth is, that no matter what, you will never have enough information about people to judge them accurately, so why bother?
The key to removing labels is to begin by valuing yourself. Pay attention. When you fall into the trap of putting yourself down, stop and then forgive yourself. The more you value yourself, the less you will be prone to slap labels on others.
So I challenge you to go one day without making judgments. Place a rubber band around your wrist as a reminder not to judge, and every time you catch yourself making a snap judgment — snap it. Then ask yourself these three simple questions: Is it true? Is it useful? Is it necessary?
We are a freedom-loving society. I work with entrepreneurs and artists who often refer to themselves as “free spirits,” including myself. Nobody wants to be or feel trapped or even limited. Yet judgment entraps us all and reveals our limited, small-minded thinking.
So “snap” away, my friend. I did, and by the end of the day, my red wrist was well worth the new awareness of the pain of judging. A small price to pay for freedom.