I have recently been told that I came across as judgmental when discussing my marital struggles on the blog. I am actually surprised that I am not accused of being judgmental more frequently than I am because I was raised in a very judgmental home and also married into a judgmental family, so the fact that I am not told this with much more frequency is testament to my progress in this area.
I used to define being judgmental as being “mean” or “bad.” I have come to realize that being judgmental really means believing that there is a “right” and “wrong” way to be and then being critical of any deviation from the “right” way. To let you know how mired I once was in judgment, when I first took the Myers-Briggs test in my 20’s, I scored a 26 on Judging and a 0 on Perceiving, which means I had no flexibility in the judgment of how to use my time.
Ironically, it was my father’s side of the family (versus momster’s) that had the greatest influence on my being judgmental. All grandchildren were expected to fit a particular mold – go to college and become a professional in your field. I didn’t see this as being judgmental – I saw it as a family expectation. My sister deviated from the mold by dropping out of high school, and she has been judged for this ever since, despite the fact that she returned to college in her mid-30’s and graduated with honors with a double major and is close to completing a double Master’s degree now. That side of the family will always view her as the family f@#$ up for dropping out of high school regardless of what she has done since.
I was judged for not staying in my profession. I earned a law degree but hated practicing law. I changed careers to being a writer, and nobody on that side of the family cared when I won three prestigious writing awards in my first three years of writing professionally. I no longer fit the mold, so anything I did was judged as inferior. To this day, none of them ever asks about my professional life, only my husband’s (who is still practicing law).
I then married into a family so judgmental that I used to wonder what they talked about before I married into the family because their favorite topic of conversation was judging my family. I think they felt better about their own dysfunction when they compared it to my dysfunctional family since my family was clearly off the charts.
I have made progress over the years in breaking down the deep-seated stronghold of being judgmental, and I have my readers to thank for some of this. I started this blog truly believing there was “one way” to heal until you corrected me. For example, I thought that yoga would work for all survivors because it worked for me, and I was truly shocked to learn that wasn’t the case.
I have also made huge changes through my own life experiences, from recognizing that there is no one “right” way to parent a child (I am a recovering “stay-at-home mom snob”) to building relationships that are diverse in age, race, religion, socioeconomic status, and other factors. Interacting with people who have walked different paths have broken down many judgmental walls that I never even knew were there.
Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt