“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” — Carl Jung
“More often than not, the things we detest and judge in others are a reflection of the things we cannot accept about ourselves.” — Iyanla L’anzant
“When you blame and criticise others, you are avoiding some truth about yourself.” — unknown
“How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves.” — unknown
I just spent some time researching these quotes to help me explore the notion of judgement — I was going to say with you, however, more accurately, I believe I am exploring it with myself (and thinking out loud via this blog). So, I hope you will forgive my musings, I suspect they are a way for me to consider this concept in the work I am doing personally, being uncovered in my own coaching, especially around Childhood Story.
The quotes have got me into a rather reflective space and as I begin to write, the direction I will take here is unclear. Bear with me though, because between us I reckon we may get onto something …
I know I have a few triggers that ignite me into different, and often undesired, states. A usually calm and considered individual, I sometimes find myself battling (internally) with a monster I do not recognise. A version of myself I neither like nor trust. Sound familiar?
This unrecognisable state is often set about in defence mode — when I feel under attack (most often through a lack of perceived fairness, or a fear of abandonment — which in its complexity as a subject, can take many forms).
My inner monster is rather judgemental, certainly not reasonable, red misted, quick to assert, cool in her delivery, lacking empathy even. ALL the tools I have at my disposal honed over years of study and self-reflection, practiced daily in my work, apparently disapparate (thank you JK Rowling for a fabulously descriptive word!) — they are nowhere to be seen as I sharpen my tongue (my weapon of choice) for battle.
In these nano-seconds of shooting up towards high stakes, I do have a moment of wandering about in the foothills of them — a moment in time when I can make choices to change. Sometimes I grab that opportunity and sometimes I don’t — always though I can bystand myself and see what I am doing. Mostly these days it is with utter disbelief in a … “ah, here I am again”, kind of a reflection.
So, judgement. What is it?
It manifests in me, when I feel judged, a sense of being misunderstood, which seems unfair, and therefore triggers a high-stakes reaction. The impact of that is that communication can quickly go off the rails and implode into a deeply unhelpful, and unresourceful space. The monster appears and no useful conclusion can be drawn for an argument.
When I am judging others, I catch myself out of the world of inquiry. I seem to internally be advocating what I believe to be true without a care to check in and ask. So, like all humans, I make up a story that fits my belief system of that situation or that person and then start to live that story as though it were fact! The impact of that is surely, in some way, to diminish the other. This is true, even if my judgement is favourable, because without giving the other space to have a voice, I am taking away a sense of them.
If I witness another’s judgment of others, I do get curious, although mostly I jump to the defence of the unheard, and often unwitting, recipient of the judgement. It taps into my [lack of] fairness value (my highest value in fact) and the archetype of protector leaps into action.
The thing is though … and this is a BIG thing. When I remind myself of the quotes at the start of this article, I am reflective because I have to ask myself the question: who, on earth, am I to judge others? When in fact, for sure, when I see, hear or notice things I do not like or enjoy; when I find myself reacting adversely to them or their actions — I am actually reacting to a part of myself that I have yet to come to terms with, understand, or change. This makes me heave an oversized sigh … because despite almost 20 years of self-development and reflection, of skill building and work based deeply in human psychology, of concentrated exploration of self and the impacts I make, I notice, ruefully, there is still much work to do.
So, come closer judgment, my friend, we have some unfinished business …
Tania Watson is the founder of Creative Coaching and an executive coach, organisational consultant and leadership specialist. Creative Coaching is a successful company dedicated to the development of senior leaders in organisations through one to one coaching, intact team development and group facilitation. If you or someone from your organisation would like to have a no obligation conversation about how Creative Coaching may be able to help, please email Tania directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.