Perceptions are predicated on judgements. I judge all the time. It’s an automatic thing.
When I came into the world, having the ability to judge kept me alive because it helped my little infant body to discern pain, hunger and appropriate body temperature. As I got older, adults taught me that doing things that made them feel uncomfortable, fearful or reactive was called ‘bad’. I expertly learned to transfer this concept onto everything around me and before I even started school I lived in a world that had been clearly delineated by good and bad.
Every once in a while I would have profoundly questioning moments in my childhood. Was my hand really called a ‘hand’ or was a word actually irrelevant to the object it represented? If I called it something else, would it still be what it was? Do words really mean anything and if yes, who decided what they should mean? What if I decide to change their meanings or give things gibberish names?
Sometimes this idea of perception would lead me into seeing a completely different world around me. Even my body didn’t feel like I belonged to it. I’d look at my arm and experience it like something disconnected from myself. If I tried to share my mystical musings with a friend I was sure to get a weird look. I wouldn’t have dreamed of disclosing my thoughts to the adults in my life.
Humor me for moment and give this some consideration: What if some people were time transported from 700 years ago into the present day? Let’s say we did a social experiment and nobody gave them any information about the new and strange things they were seeing. What would they name objects and places and what would they think the functions of these things are? Would they eventually start to see things the way we do or would they come up with completely innovative uses for them?
This little experiment would expose something very interesting about how we judge and perceive. You see, we can only judge something when we have past experience with it. In essence, we are projecting suppositions we formed in the past onto what we see before us now. For example, we judge someone as being ‘fat’ because we know what this is from past experience. And then we take it a step further and judge their character based on how we’ve perceived overweight people before. I use this example because I think nearly everyone can relate to it (just being painfully honest here).
Now let me challenge you…
In the gospels Jesus clearly admonishes people to ‘judge not’. This used to make me feel like a chastised child. I finally realised that Jesus was trying to communicate something much deeper than a simple warning. Let’s explore this a bit.
What if we asked Holy Spirit to guide us in seeing our world with the eyes of our heart rather than the ones in our skull? In particular, what if we could see people in a fresh new way with no past attached and a clean new slate every time we were with them? How would that change our experience?! No judgements, just pure unconditional love. Impossible you say? Not so. I’ve tried this. With people who’ve hurt me deeply. Guess what? It’s transformed my relationships with them.
When we hold people to their past through judgement and unforgiveness we don’t give them the opportunity to heal and change. This is because we keep treating them in ways that elicit the same unsavoury behaviors from them. We literally reinforce the neuronal connections in their physical brain that cause them to act the way we hate. Basically, we’re part of the problem we think they have.
On a physical level, our bodies completely regenerate themselves every 2 years except for our brain cells. Even though brain cells don’t regenerate, current scientific research has proven that the brain is highly plastic, that means easily changeable! The way you judge and perceive actually follows patterns in your brain and you have the power to change them by choosing (forming a habit) to think differently. These changes, in turn, actually cause the brain to direct changes in the body on a molecular and cellular level. Transformation. This is how mental and physical healing occurs.
Jesus knew that the way we think and judge affects not only our social and emotional well-being, but our individual and collective physical health too. 2000 years ago he gave us a formula to create better lives, but most people never implement it. Will you choose differently? Judge Not.