Sunday, November 27, 2011

Step 27 - Don't Judge, Live and Let Live

Day 27 of the National Blog Post Month challenge where I’m writing a blog post every day along the theme of 30 Steps to Happiness and Contentment. 

Ok, it’s the last Sunday of NaBloPoMo so I thought I’d do a bit of a preachy one!  As we go about our daily lives it’s so easy to slip into the habit of judging others.  We all find ourselves saying things like ‘Well I wouldn’t do it that way’ or ‘how could they do that?’, but it’s really not good to be so judgemental.  Remember these words:

            ‘Don’t judge a mans actions until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes’ (or something like that)

We don’t always know all the background to what’s going on in someone else’s life.  We tend to judge things by comparing how we would react in our lives, in our reality.  But, how can we know how we’d react if we’d had a different life, different circumstances?

I’m a great believer in live and let live.  I try to live my life the best way I can and try not to judge other people harshly for doing things differently to me.  It’s not easy, but I think it’s good to make a conscious effort to try not to judge others.  Judging others may give us temporary self-satisfaction in that we see a situation that someone has reacted to in a manner that we consider unacceptable.  We feel satisfied (dare I say slightly smug) that in the same situation we wouldn’t react in this way.  Self-satisfaction does not lead to happiness.  It’s actually quite a negative state of mind because in order for us to feel self-satisfied we’ve had to scorn someone else’s actions, so the negative effects of judging someone else cancels out any satisfaction we may feel. It’s far better to feel compassion for someone.  Consider what could have led them to take a decision we consider to be wrong. 

I’d like to tell you about something that happened many years ago to try to give an example of what I mean.  When I was in my teens, a very good friend of mine spread a rumour about me that was totally untrue.  I was devastated when I found out and confronted her.  She admitted she had stared the rumour and I was so shocked and hurt I cut off all ties with her.  I judged that this was not something I would do under any circumstances and therefore it was no longer worth continuing our friendship.  What I failed to consider at the time (and I very much regret) was why she did what she did.  She had not had the comfortable, cosy upbringing I had with parents that were always there for me.  I was all she had at the time and she felt she was losing me to the boyfriend she had introduced me to.  She was desperate and started a rumor she thought would split us up.  Unfortunately it had the opposite effect and caused me to cut her off completely. 

I didn’t speak to her for over 6 months until one day she called me to tell me she was pregnant.  All my bitterness and hurt melted away to be replaced by guilt and regret.  How could I have turned my back on her?  I know how important our relationship was to her at the time and I’m sure she wouldn’t have been in this situation if I hadn’t been so judgmental.  I forgave her (Forgive and forget) and we’ve enjoyed many years of friendship ever since.

Just remember that none of us are perfect, we all make mistakes, we all do things we regret and we are all sometimes forced to take steps that on the outside may appear harsh or wrong.  But, nobody really knows what’s going on in another persons life, so don’t judge – live and let live.

You may be interested to read the other posts in this series:
Step 30 - The Key to Happiness and Contentment
Step 29 -You are the master of your own destiny
Step 28 - Don't give up on a good relationship
Step 27 - Don't Judge , Live and let live
Step 26 - Don't Worry, by happy
Step 25 - Never give up
Step 24 - Get by with a little help from your friends
Step 23 - Go with the Flow
Step 22 - Enjoy the moment
Step 21 - Love what you do
Step 20 - Forgive and Forget
Step 19 - Unconditional giving
Step 18 - Smile and the world smiles with you
Step 17 - Work to live, don't live to work
Step 16 - Surround yourself with Positive People
Step 15 - Always look on the bright side of life
Step 14 - Where there's a will there's a way
Step 13 - Silence is Golden
Step 12 - Feed your Soul
Step 11 - Follow your Dreams
Step 10 - Use your time wisely
Step 9 - Don't be too hard on yourself
Step 8 - Consider what you value most
Step 7 - Find time for Yourself
Step 6 - Make time for Family and Friends
Step 5 - Don't take yourself too Seriously
Step 4 - Feel the Fear and do it Anyway
Step 3 - Love what you Hate
Step 2 - There's no such word as CAN''T
Step 1 - Find the Best in Every Day


  1. Another great post Nikki.

    I got very angry reading a post I read earlier in the week where one of my favorite bloggers felt they had been judged and found wanting.

    The truth is (although I am not blameless) the only purpose in judging someone is to somehow make yourself feel superior in some way.

    What we should do (should we have the inclination) is try and find some understanding.

    It may still be that we disagree with someones words or actions but at least then we could give an informed opinion.

    The words of my eldest son (which make no sense at all really) are something I always try to bear in mind: ‎

    'Judge not lest you judge not you ...... hmmm, yes, just consider that Mum!'. :)

  2. I think in some circumstances people behave so selfishly that they deserve to lose. Some people behave in a way that although their reasons may seem justified to them, the hurt they cause other people far out weighs the action. I think it depends how close you are to the situation as to whether you can judge someone on it. And I am basing this on personal experience. My husband left me while I was pregnant with our second child. He left me for my best friend. To tell me I have no right to judge her - I know what she is like and it wasn't the first marraige she broke up. To tell me I shouldn't judge him - the hurt he caused to me and my daughter, my family and my career - his decision was completely selfish. I have learnt to forgive and forget because I am in a happier place now BUT I will NEVER change my judgement of what they did.

  3. Hi Supersinglemum, thank you so much for your comment. Really sorry to hear your circumstances and can completely understand your feelings in this situation. I'm sure I would feel exactly the same. I suppose I'm really talking about passing judgement on people without knowing all the circumstances. If you know all the ins an outs of a personal situation, of course you can make an informed judgement. Maybe I need to rethink my wording, so thanks for pointing this out. All respect to you for forgiving because that's a real tough one to forgive!

  4. Yes I agree, if you are part of the situation it is different. In that case you are making a judgement based on the full story. And I completely agree judgeing people without knowing the full story is something we should all try not to do and if honest we are all guilty off!

  5. I whole-heartedly agree. Although, recently someone told me that it can be perfectly appropriate to think poorly of someone's actions (like friend cheating on her husband). It's just telling them their faults in a harsh or unnecessary way that we should try to avoid. I thought that was interesting even if I haven't fully wrapped my mind around the idea.

  6. Thanks Ramblinbess, yes I suppose perhaps the key here again is how much background knowledge we have about a situation. If it's a friend cheating on her husband (for example), we may have enough background knowledge about that friend to be justified in airing our opinion. However, unless we know this person very well, how do we know there's not some background info we're not privy too? Perhaps the friends husband is abusive or has cheated on her in the past, maybe they have an open relationship. It's unfair to definitively condemn another's actions without knowing the full story. If, like supersinglemum, you're part of the situation, you're basing your opinions on known facts, in which case you can make an informed decision about another's actions. We can't help having opinions about situations, it's only natural, I suppose what I'm really trying to say is we should try to keep our opinions to ourselves unless we know the full story. Not an easy one to do though I know.

  7. Thanks again for the support MS and I love your son's philosophy Sarah, it could have come out the mouth of one of my teenage sons - don't you just love them!