Monday, March 4, 2013

Rushing to judgements - update

In my previous post about rushing to judgments, I said that I was going to try to stop being judgmental. I've been trying, and failing, and trying again. I was trying this:

I'm doing it by focusing on a person's eyes and facial expressions before I do anything else. I have been trying to avoid looking at what people are wearing or how their bodies look, and to try to see them as people first.

So, that's not working. :(

I think it's not working because judging is a strong habit. For instance, I was at a playground this weekend and there were other parents around. I caught myself several times making up stories about them; this one was a cab driver, that one was an ex-punk rocker, this one was taking zumba classes. Ugh. Each time I realized what I was doing I stopped myself. But it was very discouraging.

The 'eye contact' thing isn't working for, I think, several reasons. First I think people are uncomfortable making eye contact in non-social situations like elevators or train stations. Also, some people see me making eye contact and they expect a conversation. I seem to be scaring people.

For now, I'm  trying to simply be aware of when I'm doing it. Hopefully this will give me the practice I need to stop judging, and open up to the possibility of empathy.


A recent trip to New York City reminded me something about my habits. See, growing up there I learned the habit of looking down. Looking up, or looking around, was something I believed that only tourists did. Well now here I am, not as a tourist, but not looking down. I broke the habit, and now I look all around.

On the subway, I wasn't looking where I was going (yes, I wasn't looking down) and I bumped someone, hard. I turned and apologized, and she gave me a look. The look was, "uh, why are you apologizing?" which just shows how long I've been NOT a city-dweller. Yet another New York City habit broken. I don't assume that it's all-right to bump into people.

If I can break habits here, I can break them anywhere. :)

Have you ever broken a habit? Tell us about it.


Heather said...

It's interesting to think of making up stories about people as judging. I mean, I can see some ways in which it is, but also could see an argument for saying it isn't. I think being aware of doing it sounds like a good thing, though - especially if you make yourself also be aware of counter-possibilities, of other possible stories. I guess it also feels to me like there's a distinction between stories and labels - when we rush to put a certain label on someone, that's sometimes a way to categorize them and not need to think further about them, whereas stories feel more fluid/less confining.

susan thom said...

i guess having lived in a big city until i was 23, helped me in the fact that i made friends with those of all colors, ethnicity’s,etc.
then, having 3 teens, and allowing them to have their "get togethers" here, i got to know some of the pink haired girls, and learned to tolerate skulls and bones, tattoos, and piercings.
talking to someone, and appreciating their honesty and kindness, should come before the judgment comes along.
i will never forget almost being at the toll bridge in portland, and realizing i had no money to pay the toll. it was a dark saturday night, and i drove around the town, and saw a group of teens hanging out, just walking down the street.
there were chains, and piercings, and crazy colored hair.
i stopped and explained my situation, and ALL of the kids immediately put their hands in their pockets, and were willing to give me whatever change i needed.
i think judgment should be reserved for the Almighty, and i hear He doesn't even judge :)