Tuesday, October 4, 2016

3 Steps to Stop Judging

We have been advised time and time again. In nearly every lecture, we are reminded to avoid judging others and gossip. Elder Uchtdorf famously said,"this topic of judging others could actually be taught in a two-word sermon. When it comes to hating, gossiping, ignoring, ridiculing, holding grudges, or wanting to cause harm, please apply the following: Stop it!"

What a wake up call that was for a lot of people! It cut deep in our cores and made us realize that maybe we weren't doing as great as we thought we were. And maybe, just maybe, we could try to make a change.

Years and years ago, I had decided gossip and unrighteous judgment wasn't going to be a part of my life anymore. Obviously, I am not perfect. When others around me are gossiping or saying negative things about other people, sometimes I hear myself asking questions to know more rather than keeping my mouth shut or trying to change the subject. But it is possible to change, and I have noticed an extremely positive change in my life over the years of actively trying to be better at this.

How can you go from point A to point B? We know we are suppose to. But are we really suppose to just wake up one morning and be perfect at it? No, but there is a way to be better.

There are 3 simple (or extremely difficult, depending where you're at on the gossip/judgy pole) steps you can try to better yourself with the ever so slippery slope of being a jerk. I kid, I kid.

Step 1: Commitment

You need to make the commitment to yourself that you are going to make a serious effort. You can let those around you know and ask them to hold you accountable.

This is not a conditional effort. You can't back out when your co-worker calls with the new dirty details on your horrid supervisor's dramatic affair or when the incredibly tempting new "people of walmart" video is made. You have to make the commitment and stick to it.

Step 2: Refuse Verbal Judgment

When you see someone doing something or looking a certain way that makes you want to say something negative, refuse. When you hear that so-and-so from work did such-and-such and you want to tell someone, refuse. Refuse to verbalize your negativity.

One of the biggest rewards we feel we get from gossip or unrighteous judgment is validation. We want to feel that our thoughts and opinions are correct. It is human nature to want to be understood, and when people tell you that you're right for thinking certain things about someone, it makes us feel good and builds our confidence.

Unfortunately, that singular feel good moment turns into a thousand feel good moments that suddenly and without warning turn into a pile of misery and isolation topped with a bitter piece of sad broccoli. It's completely worth it to at least attempt to make the change.

So, you can think these negative or gossip type thoughts as much as you want, but refusing to say it out loud will kill off one of the biggest incentives for doing it in the first place; validation.

Step 3: Train your thoughts

Now that you're not verbalizing your gossip or negative thoughts, start training yourself to think of something positive immediately upon hearing/thinking those things. It doesn't necessary need to be super positive or elaborate. I use the simple phrase, "I wonder if..." to help train myself.

That shirt is way too small for her.
I wonder if that's the only shirt she owns.

Big surprise, my neighbor hasn't watered her yard all summer.
I wonder if they're going through a hard time right now.

Looks like Sara finally got fired. She's always been so lazy, that's probably why.
I wonder if she had more on her plate than I knew. 

Why is she at McDonalds when she clearly needs to lose weight?
I wonder if she's been working hard at getting healthier and today is her cheat day.

They don't need to be perfect replacement thoughts, or even extremely positive ones. Just training yourself to slap your initial negative thought in the face is what we're after here. Getting yourself in the habit of giving people the benefit of the doubt is an empowering feeling of freedom you won't expect, but will undoubtedly love. It will inevitably build and build until positive thoughts are the first ones you think of. 

 It takes time, and you'll mess up (heaven knows I get riled up and say things I shouldn't way too often), but when you are striving to be your very best, you get credit for trying!

These steps are merely suggestions. They are steps that I made up for myself and worked for me to kick myself into gear. They will of course not work for everyone and I am not a psychologist or any kind of mental professional in any way. It's worth a shot, though, considering how none of us want to end up a miserable, isolated being topped with a bitter piece of sad broccoli.

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