Why has society decided that they can judge others without truly knowing the ins and outs of the story? Since when have we become so perfect that we feel we can tell others what they should be doing? When it is become to norm to hear about someone’s life and automatically judge them without knowing what led them to that place?
I will be the first to admit that I’ve struggled with judging others throughout life. It used to simply be a part of who I was. I would sometimes justify the judgmental thoughts, and other times I wouldn’t even feel that they required a justification. About a year ago, I started to focus on changing this element in my personality. I asked others to hold me accountable and I forced myself to actively shift thoughts. For example, if I was driving down the road, obeying all laws as a driver, and an individual decided to just pull out right in front of me while causing me to forcibly apply my brakes, I would state something to myself such as, “What is wrong with that idiot?” I have since tried (I have far from mastered this goal.) to reshape my thinking. Instead I might interrupt the former thought to tell myself, “Maybe he/she has a legitimate vision problem and wasn’t able to see my vehicle in time.” Or “Maybe there’s an emergency at the hospital so I should be sympathetic.”
However, while I’m working on myself (and screwing up here and there), I find myself getting annoyed when others are making these types of comments. I think that’s initially what lead me to notice the “log in my own eye.” Nevertheless, I find myself wondering why we make such harsh judgements of one another. For example, the many mothers who are bashed on social media once viral stories take over. Such as the lady whose son fell into the gorilla exhibit at the zoo, or the family whose son was killed by the alligator in Florida. We do not know what was happening in that exact situation. We do not know what the parent was in the middle of doing. There are many situations where people rush to criticize others without knowing what was happening to the individual whom they are scrutinizing. How many times have you sent a text while watching your child, or had an uncontrollable sneeze while driving? Those few seconds could completely change your life. It could be something as “simple” as that which forever shapes the rest of your story.
Since becoming a mother, I feel like I am extra sensitive to this topic. It has been in
motherhood that I have experienced the most judgements from others. I try to overlook it and focus on just doing what is right for my family, but that does not take away the sting that is inflicted when someone those judgmental words your way. For me, this started before childbirth. I had “friends” and “acquaintances” who would ask me questions about motherhood and then respond with hurtful comments or actions. Some of those situations included:
– displeasure with our decision to only have immediate family at the hospital
– stating that we are over-reacting by not exposing our newborn to screen time
– lack of support with our precautions with having a newborn during cold and flu season
– expressing the view that we are spending too much money on cloth diapering (which was not the factual truth)
– explaining that raising a bi-lingual child will not work
The list could go on and on. People have given very harsh opinions during this stage of life and it has even resulted in ended friendships (By the choice of others.) At a time (parenthood) when we should rally around each other and provide support and encouragement, people have instead chosen to lash out with their judgements and opinions. Perhaps it is rooted in their insecurities, or maybe in their internal regret for the choices they made. Regardless, it does not make it right to treat another person in this manner.
An area that has repeatedly struck a deep vein for me is when others make statements such as, “Oh, must be nice to stay at home with your child. Not all of us can afford that.” Or “I wish my husband made enough money so that I could stay at home with our kids.” Or “Well, it’s easier for you to get XYZ done because you are home all day. It’s harder when you have to work all day and then come home.” These comments make my blood boil! Every situation is different. Some people get to be stay-at-home parents while living a comfortable life due to the finances they have been blessed with. Other people struggle to make ends meet and choose to make significant sacrifices to be at home to raise their children. Then there are the many stages in between those two sides. Few people know what a family is genuinely experiencing. When deciding which path to take in raising our future child, I sought the advice of an acquaintance. Though I did not know her well, I knew that her judgements were solid and that her family’s decisions were rooted in faith. She explained to me that in order to stay home with her children, the family did not have any vacations for years and they only went out to eat if someone had given them a gift card at the holidays (She told many other examples of sacrifice as well.). Looking from the outside, you would have never known the choices that this family made so that they could have one parent at home with the children.
Truth of the matter is even if you “know” a family, you probably do not know what they have given up to be under one income. You probably do not know what they go without, or how they financially saved for years for this moment in life. You might not know how they got that new Lexus from an unfortunate situation, or how they live in fear every day of the unknown. You might not see the markings on the mother’s knees from the hours upon hours that she spent praying over her family, nor the way meals are prepared with every scrap available so that the children never notice the family’s struggles. See. You really don’t know, and yet these judgements are thrown around as if you are an expert on the life of someone else. The reality remains that no matter how much you think you understand; you cannot fully grasp what it is like to be in another person’s situation until you live the life that have lived (Which, another reality check here… that can never happen. No two lives are alike.) So, instead of judging one another, let’s refocus our thoughts and decide to encourage one another during this journey of life.
Ahmeli… that we will replace judgements with supportive comments.
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