by Cara Lumen
She quit the class. It did not look the way she thought it would look. It was not done the way she had expected it to be done. So she quit. She had a preconceived notion of what she wanted and did not carefully read what was being offered. She had set up expectations not founded on fact and naturally they were not met. She became upset and judgmental and quit.
Have your preconceived ideas ever stopped you from getting the most out of a situation? When the experience turned out to be something other than you expected did you shut down, or did you know that there was an unknown reason you had made the choices leading you there and that you should look around at what was being offered?
There is a vast difference between judgment and opinion. If you have an opinion it’s yours to do with as you will. An opinion serves only as a guide for your own choices. You can hang on to it or you can change it. You can share it or you can keep it to yourself. It’s simply the sum of who you are and how you are perceiving things at the moment. It’s your opinion.
A judgment sets you and the object of your judgment apart. It makes one of you wrong. There can never be a collaboration or partnership with a judgment because there is no flexibility. But worst of all when you are in judgment you usually do not go exploring to see what it’s like from the other person’s perspective. Judgment shuts you in. It shuts you down. You never learn or know what gifts the other person or circumstance affords you. Judgment is critical, an opinion is an evaluation. That’s an important distinction.
Your opinion is based on your evaluation of where you are, who you are and what you need. It doesn’t make anyone or anything wrong. It simply makes a choice about its usefulness to you at the moment. When you are in evaluation mode you are open to exploration and discovery. You are open to change.
How flexible are you when you are faced with a new person or a new opportunity or a new experience?
Do you immediately categorize and pigeonhole the person or experience? Do you look at what’s not working rather than what is working? Do you look at the negative before you look for the positive? That’s judgment and criticism.
Or do you look upon it as an adventure? Something new to learn? Something to explore and consider? That’s when you evaluate and sample what is before you before you develop an opinion, before you make your choice. You open yourself to each new experience and welcome it into your life.
Start looking at how you perceive new people and new experiences. When something new shows up simply pause and let all your senses work. Feel how you feel, look more deeply into what is before you, and step mindfully into the experience. Then your evaluation will be based on what is true for you at that moment and you will be enriched by the experience.