Plants need a lot of attention and care and patience. I love bringing new plants into the studio but it can take me a while to understand them and to learn how to look after them properly. Their needs can vary wildly. I have two of the same plants in the studio. One is as happy as larry and needs hardly anything more than the occasional water. The other one needs a whole lot more care and attention and seems to change its mind about what it likes and dislikes frequently. Each of the plants that I have show individual tastes and preferences and clear dislikes. I think if they were people I would be much more annoyed or bothered but for some reason with plants it’s quite delightful. When I water them or tend to them I notice I am really open and unattached to how they respond. Curiosity about them pervades any frustration.
I’ve been worried lately that I’m a very judgemental person. It’s confronting to realise all the judgements that I make – most often unconsciously – about others. It’s definitely not a comfortable part of self-awareness to explore. Because we can tell ourselves that we are accepting, we don’t judge people because of their gender, race, culture, age, appearance, political views, values, likes or dislikes etc. And you can be clear about what you do value and how your values may be all encompassing and non-discriminatory. But despite all these good intentions, I find these judgements that I have come through me almost automatically and often quite shockingly. All these predetermined ideas about how people are going to be, how they will behave, what they like; it’s awful. And especially humbling when they don’t obviously turn out anything like you judgementally expect them to.
I don’t want to be judgemental but I don’t know if being hard on myself for it is necessarily the answer – although often at times I am. I would much rather bring that same curious openness to people that I bring to plants. I think with plants it’s easier because when we judge other people it can often be in reaction or relation to something that we judge in ourselves and then it gets a bit sticky and icky. I know I judge myself in a negative way, a lot. There is very rarely a moment in my head that is not a critical one saying, you shouldn’t have done that or you shouldn’t want that or you shouldn’t say that. When strong feelings come up it’s hard not to judge them too. I shouldn’t feel anger, sadness, fear because they are all bad, stupid, a waste of time etc.
I was really hit with my judgements this week since I became sick on Sunday. I managed to contract a virus that generally only affects those under 5 (and me apparently). I have a lot of judgements about being sick – not limited to: it’s a sign of weakness, it shows you aren’t looking after yourself, you aren’t aligned energetically, you’re inherently doing something wrong, you’re being punished for something. And with this particular one, it was hard not to feel pretty childish and immature and not to judge myself for getting an illness for babies. Of course consciously I know none of this is true but it doesn’t mean that the energy of it isn’t there.
I don’t want to justify my judgement of other people by the fact that I am judging myself too because that doesn’t feel good enough. We owe each other more than that. I also really hate that feeling when someone has judged me. It feels unfair and awful, one-dimensional and mean. It also feels like all this separation and disconnection is created because the other person doesn’t connect with what joins us but is focused on what segregates us. After feeling judged it’s hard not to feel less smart, savvy, super and more separate from them.
People need a lot of attention and care and patience. And our actions, thoughts and words need to step over any judgements or close mindedness that may come up, and instead approach each other with curiosity and openness. Black and white, right and wrongs, yes and nos very rarely work. There’s so much more fascination in the shades of grey and in finding out about what this particular person might think or need or be going to say and really allowing yourself to be surprised over and over again by the peculiarities of people. Patience is definitely an important part of the equation because there are barriers – judgements, defences and fears – to overcome.
And it does seem like it’s fear that breeds judgement so love must overcome it. And choosing to come from love with others and with yourself is what we all want and aim for and practice. And it is a conscious choice. So even if your judgements might rear their heads, you can still choose not to come from them. And because it’s something we practice, it means that sometimes we will get it right and sometimes not. And if we are going to accept and love ourselves and others for being equal, special, valuable and peculiar; then we have to accept the part of us too that might be judgemental and critical and close minded; and be willing, open and patient to learn, to forgive and to choose love all over again.