Being Wise… taking in the wisdom across generations
by Christine, age 37
Oh my gosh! Olive makes me remember that we start this bad behavior as teenagers with the “innocent” act of judging the girl next to us for her horrible fashion choices. Then, as we get older, the stakes get higher. We judge other women, including our friends, for their choice in men, children, career, and yes, even still their clothing… based on nothing more than what we deem to be right and wrong, a.k.a our opinions.
I know that I myself am like walking opinion machine. Think about your own typical day and how many opinions you form (“I like this, I don’t like that”) and add those minor thoughts to the deeper opinions that stem from your core values –
“I am… pro-choice, for gay marriage, against chickens running free, just name a cause.” It rocks that as women we are free to have our opinions, ones that we are passionate about, that we believe in, that make up who we are. But what’s figged up is using our opinions to make harsh judgments about someone else.
This election has tested me beyond, beyond and even more beyond, and I admit that I have failed again and again in my commitment to being “judgment free.” I do have opinions, and I’ve been told “passionate ones.” So what do I do when I meet or see someone who disagrees with me or that I really disagree with? Do I try to convince her? Do I shut up and walk away? Do I scream at the television as if she can really hear me?
In my 20’s I would have died trying to “show her the light.” But in my third decade, I’ve wised up and learned that it’s not my job to convince anyone of anything. Instead, it’s my choice to share from my heart and soul, not my righteous mind. It’s my commitment to myself to share what I believe, with emotion and conviction but without judgment. And it’s my responsibility to meet every woman with both my truth and my heart and leave their opinion up to them. I am no longer interested in arm wrestling another woman to the floor, and I can still fight for what I believe in, without having to tear her down in the process.
Olive, age 13, says:
One thing that all humans have in common is that deep down inside we all like to be right. Sometimes there are women who are more open than others but sometimes we like to have our opinions and stick with them.
When a woman gives you her opinion saying that she is against gay marriage and you disagree you might judge her vary harshly. When you don’t judge women as much is when they don’t like a shirt that you think is super cute. This is because if we were to judge a woman because she doesn’t like a shirt, we would never have really good friends.
Something that we could do to help fix this is to open our minds and realize that no one will ever be exactly like you. We might have more things in common with some than others but we just have to know that everyone has their opinions.
Some examples are: You go out to a store and your friend tries on something that you would describe as hideous. When she comes out of the changing room it looks worse. The shape, color, and style looks bad on her but she thinks it looks fabulous. You can just find something positive to say about it like it is very creative and then just be happy for her that she found something that she loves.
Anne, age 41, says:
Funny thing. This question is coming at a perfect time. I have this new friend. We get along and then suddenly, the energy shifts and we are not communicating and I am saying things that hurt her and she is saying things that offend me. Doesn’t sound pleasant right? I am judging how she is handling her life, her taste etc. And I feel it right back. So what does this mean? Why am I partaking in the vices of judgment and blame? Well…I find that when I am triggered this intensely by a situation or a person, I am really fighting with a part of myself that I do not like or am afraid of. This person and I share many of the same life situations. And I think I am finding it painful to view up close a side of myself I am not proud of.
So to answer the question, when conversations and interactions with someone get you in a position of anger and blame, you have to start with yourself. Why are you getting so personally involved? If you can’t come from a place of detachment and love with someone, then you need to look at yourself and your own beliefs to be clean about what negative stuff you are bringing to the relationship.
Linda, age 60, says:
My belief is that opinions are a derivative of personal values combined with life experience, and my sense is that it’s our values that provide the emotional heat behind our opinions. I’m not so sure that being “stuck” with an opinion is such a bad thing if it’s a true reflection of one’s values. What we do with those opinions seems to be the question at hand, however, and I have no doubt that the level of judgment directly relates to the element of what we hold to be truth.
A couple of years ago, a woman moved into town who became connected to my social circle. Her need for inclusion was so strong that she began to take over the planning of many unique social events, and the group’s acceptance level was high. However, after a period of time, another side of her became more pronounced that displayed a sarcastic, derisive nature as well as many negative behavioral traits. Where she had once been included, people were now going out of their way to exclude her from social gatherings. Most of the women had changed their opinion of her, not because she couldn’t give a
good party, because no one could relate to the negative side of her nature. She suddenly was being judged for a value system that was different from most of the others.
Could anything have been done differently? Should we have been more accepting of her behavior? In a perfect world, we’d all just get along and not let someone’s “stuff” get in our way. We’d all work hard to see through others and be accepting of who they are despite their behaviors. But, the truth be told, I’m not sure I want to work that hard any more. And maybe that’s all about being 60.