This is a complicated, often cruel world and it’s really easy to lash out at others. I was struck when recently after Robin William’s suicide that his daughter, Zelda, announced she was getting off social media platforms because she’d been receiving ugly, hateful messages blaming her (somehow) for her father’s sad decision. The issue of suicide is very difficult and divisive, but I was most struck by how unhappy the people were who wrote nasty things to her.
While having opinions of others is a natural part of being human, we need to temper these with the understanding that none of us know it all. We aren’t in a position to judge—not others and not ourselves.
I hear reports of others in my profession who have made sweeping “assessments” and judgments of what various individuals should do. I’m always hesitant to use the should word because clients get to make their own choices in this world.They live with the outcomes of these, not me. I have training and input, but this doesn’t make me all-powerful or all-knowing. Because I’m blessed to be the repository of many people’s struggles, feelings and issues, I have a unique perspective on many issues. This doesn’t, however, make me feel judgmental of them.
I’ve had and raised children. I’ve been married for a very long time. I know these are complicated roles. I also know that no one in this world is perfect and always makes the best decisions. No one. We all have lessons to learn and the process of learning them can be torturous. In my experience as a therapist, I’ve come to see that we judge ourselves most harshly. We sometimes sound really severe when talking about others, but we often say terrible things about ourselves to ourselves.
I believe no one has it easy…we just don’t know everything they’re facing. I try to always remember this, but I’ll be honest and say that I have my judgmental moments (usually when drivers fail to yield the left hand lane to those who are going faster…) . I try to overcome these moments, however.
I certainly want others to do the same.