In countries with a high affinity for soccer, there usually live as many soccer coaches as there are male inhabitants above 6 years. They watch the game and feel inclined as well as empowered not only to criticise but to come up with smashing proposals for enhancement.
We find the same behavior in other areas, such as business: imagine you work in the marketing department and you’ve just come up with some campaign ideas. Expect to receive well-intentioned feedback from everybody, even from colleagues working in not-so-marketing-related areas such as book-keeping.
People form their views on basically anything they see, hear and smell. They do it immediately after they have become aware of a new event or a sensory impression. There is a mental side of this reaction — the thought — and a physical side: the emotion. If you watch yourself narrowly you’ll notice a certain absoluteness of this process: when you see somebody, that seems to result in a thought and an emotion, quite automatically.
And yet, from all what we know about how our brain works, this obligatory process isn’t what it looks like. Without digging deeper into neuroscience here, we know that the grade of automatism of forming your view of something or somebody, is being developed with your growing wealth of experience — or — the increasing inability to asses everything anew, as if you haven’t seen it before. Watching babies in their very first months of existence, looking at all the new things around them, trying to grasp what’s going on, is a good indicator: without being burdened with any experience, knowledge, rules, etc., they welcome new things and new people free of prejudice.
And now to ourselves: why do we judge anything in the very first moment we experience it, if we don’t have to? The answer is simple: we have got used to it. To label, interpret and to assess everything has become so natural that we we don’t realize that we would not have to do it. We even think that these judgements are some unconditional biochemical processes.
Babies are approached with openness and love (at least as long as they don’t cry). Why is that? First, babies arouse protective instincts in adults. And second, babies themselves approach any adult in a completely unbiased way. As an adult, you realize that you could befriend this little tyke if you wanted.
Not to judge, giving up assessments of things, situations and people, seems to be one of the most critical factors of our personal wellbeing and the quality of our social interactions. For me, it’s quite tough not to give in and react immediately, but to wait, and perhaps not to react at all. It probably will stay a daily challenge. But compared to the small effort it takes,the effect of this technique is spectacular: every time I don’t judge, I get the feeling of having learnt something new. And — in most cases — my social interactions improve as a result. It’s like magic — everybody feels good or better, and nobody (except myself) knows why.
Don’t believe or mistrust me — I really recommend to give it a try: forego your assessments for just one single day. Then look at the effects. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.