Dear Dr. Norquist:
I have lots of friends, and I spend a lot of time with them. I like most of them very much, and they always make me feel welcome. I’ve been noticing that as I’m sitting around talking with everyone all of these unasked for opinions and outright judgements float across my mind. It’s not like I’m really focusing on one of my friends trying to see what is wrong with them, but these opinions just seem to pop up. It makes me feel pretty stupid as I look at my friends, and they have no idea I’m having these often negative thoughts about them. Is this normal?
Dr. Norquist responds:
Most of us spend a lot of time unconsciously judging some aspect of life as good or bad or desirable or stupid or wrong or whatever else. There are countless manifestations of this that we can see within ourselves if we but stop to notice our subconscious thinking patterns. The fact that this tendency bothers you in itself shows you are ready to start moving away from this habit to a state of mind that is more up-lifting and enjoyable. You can learn a lot about yourself just by observing your judgements and asking yourself what the underlying beliefs are that these judgements stem from. In this way you can start to take more control over your life – and start living your life more consciously.
The experience that truly melts judgement is compassion. See if you can practice this in your life. This starts by trying to really put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see it from an experience of who they are. If it is yourself you are judging, try to see yourself as you would see your own daughter or son, through the eyes of love. As you practice this, you will be creating an experience of life that is much richer, deeper, more poignant, and more joyous then that which you create through judgements of yourself, others, or life situations. When it comes right down to it, who are we to judge anyway? Are any of us privy to the ultimate knowledge of what is right or wrong? I think we should leave that up to God.
(Dr. Sallie Norquist is a licensed psychologist (NJ #2371) in private practice and is director of Chaitanya Counseling Services, a center for upliftment and enlivenment, in Hoboken.) Dr. Norquist and the staff of Chaitanya invite you to write them at Chaitanya Counseling Services, 51 Newark St., Suite 202, Hoboken, NJ 07030 or www.chaitanya.com or by e-mail at email@example.com, or by fax at (201) 656-4700. Questions can address various topics, including relationships, life’s stresses, difficulties, mysteries and dilemmas, as well as questions related to managing stress or alternative ways of understanding health-related concerns.Ó 2016 Chaitanya Counseling Services