Day 525: Judgment and love

During the past three days, attending a group psychotherapy conference, I witnessed people doing their best to let go of old patterns of judgment that get in the way of love — love of self and love of others.

But isn’t love ALSO a kind of judgment?  Isn’t love just an extreme form of … like?

When we say, “I like this” and “I don’t like this” … isn’t that the essence of judgment? For example, when I’ve done mindfulness exercises with people, I’ve  asked people to observe their likes and dislikes — of a piece of music, a painting, a shell, etc. — to let go of those likes and dislikes as much as possible, and just be present with the object.

But it’s our nature to judge, isn’t it?

I know it’s my nature, for sure, no matter what the title of this blog.

For example, I really liked this sock that Suzanne — another conference attendee — showed me yesterday:


When I told, Suzanne, yesterday, that I wanted to include that sock she’s knitting in this blog, she immediately put it on, with pride.

Which reminds me of one of the most helpful moments of the three-day weekend — this exchange between me and a group leader:

Me: I know that a typical pattern for me, in a group, is to engage quickly (opening my arms wide — in a Ta-Da! gesture) and then, at some point, to withdraw (drawing myself in, and looking down).

Group Leader: Why not try pride, instead of shame?

But in order to have pride (or love) —  for ourselves and others — don’t we need to make some judgment about worth?  And by making a judgment, can’t we easily flip into the other side of that: judging ourselves and others negatively?

I don’t know if I’m going to figure this all out today, before I leave for work, but I would like to tell you about some other highlights, from the conference:

  • Standing in a crowded room, alone, observing others interacting socially, and truly believing it was okay for me to just stand there, without having anybody by my side to talk to.
  • Dancing with an old friend, in a hallway, as his cell phone was playing “Dance with Me,”  and not caring what other people might think.
  • Meeting somebody new, and learning from her that it was okay (and even beautiful) to take up space, even if you might feel stigmatized for your difference and your status within the group.
  • Being reminded you don’t have to see and hear everything, in order to learn.
  • Realizing, again, that it’s okay to be messy:




Thanks to Suzanne, Joe, and all the other teachers and learners at the NSGP annual conference; to Orleans (not the Little River Band) for “Dance With Me”;  to people who do their best to let go of old and unhelpful patterns; to those who experience love, pride, and other human emotions; and to you — of course! — for visiting today.

Categories: personal growth, photojournalism | Tags: , , , , , , | 41 Comments

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41 thoughts on “Day 525: Judgment and love

  1. Amazing! I love that you had a little dance party in the hallway!!

  2. You are quite the note-taker Ann, and I am proud to display the fact that I like your style.

    I second the love for your dance party, too, but want to add that you may have wanted to foot note the band Orleans instead of Little River Band if your intent was thanks for that song. Your YouTube link was correct. See, somebody — me, even — does click. I’m going to put the wiki link to Orleans below anyway, because they have an upstate New York heritage and I really like the guys.

    And, Ann, wow what a sock picture you take, too

    • Thank you for this excellent comment, Mark, which I am apparently judging, now, also. Since you perused this post so carefuly, perhaps you noticed — in my notes, near the lower right corner — “I’m not too interested in the facts”? However, I am very interested in giving people credit, so I have changed my post, as you wish.

      • Oh, Ann, I also like The Little River Band, don’t you? Maybe you and your old friend also danced to “Long Way Home” perhaps? My comments are never meant for you to change a word of anything, just for me to add my asides, friend.

      • I don’t make any changes I don’t want to, Mark. Notice my post now includes BOTH bands. You help me make things better, friend.

      • You are very wise.

  3. I bet that guy from Orleans still has the same denim shirt that he is wearing on the album cover. I know I would. Though I’d ditch the seventies-stache.

    • Really, Jeff? That’s ALL you can say regarding my post about these enormously important issues of judgment and love?

      It might seem like I’m judging your comment; I’m actually loving it.

  4. I like me and I like you, and lots of folks in between. I can judge and simply walk away from something that displeases me; I don’t make a scene, but I DO have standards and I DO have tastes. Basically I believe in the freedom of choice as long as nobody tries to inflict their tastes or beliefs on me.

  5. Gene Phillips

    Let us here praise adjectives and adverbs like excessive(ly), routine(ly), sound(ly), careful(ly), reflexive(ly), unjust(ly), and so on. I love the list and the scene of dancing.

    • I excessively, routinely, soundly, carefully, reflexively and justly like this comment. Thank you, Gene.

  6. I always say that it’s easier to love someone than like them. Love is an act of your will. You love regardless of what is going on. Like is based on how something is affecting me personally more than on the other person. You know like you love your family but you don’t always like them… make sense?
    Diana xo

  7. I love this post!!! It’s so inquisitive. Love extremes.

    • I love this comment, Chloe, especially since “inquisitive” is one of my favorite words. Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  8. I’m not in alignment over love and liking being close…. and I don’t have time to delve into it here … because I read to the end and I like your learnings and insights from the conference …. and I LOVE your notes. Much more than like!
    Val x

  9. It is our nature to judge-literally. It’s a biological imperative, right? In order to survive animals have to be able to instantly scan the horizon, judge intent and compare…it’s natural. Of course I also like/love to engage in self-righteous judging of people’s behavior. Now that’s not natural or nice. It’s just good sport when I’m bored. How do you like me now?

  10. How can one not “like” a post about what we like. And the spontaneous dance in the hallway is a must-do in life free from condemnation.
    Judging as in choosing to enjoy, like, love and encourage is a good thing; judging to condemn is not. That’s my judgment anyway. And I judge this to be another encouraging post from Ann who always makes me smile. 🙂

    • I love your equating judging with choosing, in that Wild way of yours, Mel. Thank you for yet another encouraging and wonderful comment (which made me smile back).

  11. This is brilliant! I am glad you lead me here 😉 I think I will enjoy this blog of yours thoroughly 😀

  12. Hi dear Ann! You are SO right – we have much in common and I am so delighted to follow along with each other! In fact, I’m surprised we hadn’t found each other before this, but this is the delight of the blogging community, no? Awesome connections and surprises! 🙂

    I LOVE your messy notes, I can’t think or process without writing things down even if they are messy. And I think this is such a groovy thing to say: “to people who do their best to let go of old and unhelpful patterns.” Most (all?) of us really are doing our best. What a gentle and kind thing to notice about people.

    Wishing you peace and thanking you so for connecting our journeys ~ Allison

    • Allison,

      Thank you for your loving and generous nature, and for this wonderful comment.

      I feel very blessed that we have encountered each other here.

      All the best,

  13. I love so many of your insights; this day’s among them. And I really like you!

  14. It’s an interesting question you pose. I was part of a search committee for a faculty in our art department who was interested in the aesthetics of ugliness which is very non-traditional because people tend to focus only on aesthetically pleasing aspects of art. In the same way I think we tend to use judgment in the same way in that we only tend to refer to someone as judgmental when they are reaching a negative conclusion about something. But it’s true, why not also when we are being positive about things? A person we refer to as being judgmental we usually judge as being incorrect because they perhaps are making a decision summarily based on little evidence or a lack of true understanding. But it seems to me we may like or love something based on a lack of evidence or true understanding also. I guess I would argue that it is better to love something or someone on lack of evidence or understanding rather than judge negatively for those same reasons. To love something might be a judgment, but it seems a powerful one that can possible transform things for the better. In the end judgments have more meaning the more we understand what we are judging. How you act based on that judgment and your willingness to take different positions as new understanding is found is also important.

  15. My favorite part was your being messy! I am a scribbler of notes. I have to share this with you, Ann. I tend to not turn the lights on, if as I am drifting off to sleep, a thought occurs to me for a post. I just write on the paper pad next to my bed! In the morning, I try to decipher the notes but sometimes it is funny and I am laughing because it doesn’t make sense at all! Smiles, Robin

    • I really like leaving room for the messy, Robin. At the same time, I use the word “neat” to refer to something I like. Does that make sense, like your scribbled notes at night? I do know that I always enjoy your visits and your neat comments. Thank you!

  16. Pingback: Day 612: Not the only one | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  17. Pingback: Day 672: Care | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

  18. Pingback: Day 741: Patterns | The Year(s) of Living Non-Judgmentally

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