Sometimes people look stupid. Sometimes people could stand to lose a few pounds. Sometimes they’ve just dared to wear a skirt that was too short. Sometimes people do stupid things. Sometimes they open their mouths when they should have kept them shut. Sometimes people *gasp* make mistakes. Sometimes they can’t even see how silly their decision-making skills have become.

And that’s our cue to jump in and judge the hell out of them.

We may not even know someone. We may take one look and say, ‘Gawd that person looks ridiculous,’ or ‘What on earth was she thinking?’ and probably even ‘I could have pulled that off much better,’ or ‘I’d have NEVER done something that stupid (or mean, or cruel or hurtful or rude or selfish…).’

Then again, they might be our best friend. We laugh at their taste in music. We tell them they really ought to wear a belt with that outfit. We wonder why they haven’t got a real job already. Or if they’ve done something really dumb, we talk about them behind their backs. We re-evaluate our opinion of their character. We may even stop hanging out with them.

That happens all the time. To everyone. No one can do or say or think or feel anything without someone else passing judgment on it. It’s just the way of life. Get used to it.

Of course some people find themselves in a situation where they can’t even act anymore for all the judgment thrown in their direction. A mistake is made. Perhaps it doesn’t feel like a mistake. Perhaps it’s wrong and the person knows it but has no sense of how to stop the mistake. Sometimes the person is just out of control. These things happen to all of us at some point in life.

So why should anyone feel the need to publicly and loudly judge something another person has done? A person’s life isn’t art. For instance, I don’t do the things I do for public consumption. I don’t create a mistake and say to the world, “Here! Judge me!” My life isn’t a movie or a painting or a story that I’ve shared with the world in hopes that the world approves. It’s just my life. And I don’t get to distance myself from that. Ever. Well, not without taking drastic measures, at least.

And what’s to say I feel good about the mistake? Chances are, if someone else is looking at the ruins of my choices and seeing ruins, I’m seeing an effing sinkhole of despair. I know I’ve judged the shit out of some people over the years without once considering how miserable they must feel, or how stuck, or out of control, or perhaps just in denial.

Does someone feeling badly about their choices make a mistake okay? Heck no. Mistakes are valuable in a way, because we learn from them, but other than that, a mistake sucks. It sucks the good right out of a situation. It may hurt people. Badly. It may ruin lives. And someone who makes a mistake like that should feel awful. But our judgment accomplishes nothing. It may even make the poor soul on the receiving end of the judgment a little more empowered. Maybe they hear our judgment and say, ‘F you, world! I’ll do what I want!’ or ‘Well the damage is done now, it can’t get  much worse than this,’ or even ‘Who is (s)he to judge me?’

Obviously I write this from my heart and from a very personal knowledge of how this situation feels. Maybe your life is perfect. Maybe you have a special edict from God on High to pass judgment on your fellow sinful creatures. I don’t know. But I do know that my life isn’t perfect and I’m as guilty as anyone of judging others. But I want to say, from the perspective of someone who’s made some hurtful mistakes, judging is a pretty hurtful mistake, too.

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