I hate to admit this, but I have spent a great deal of my life being judgmental. The good news is that at least I recognize it now, and I am taking steps to improve myself.
Before I give you an example, let me tell you a bit about my philosophy, as that will tie into my story. For a long time, I have believed that a good philosophy is to “Do no harm.” I do not have the right to harm others. I have added onto that “Accept no harm.” Others do not have the right to harm me, either. The latest piece is a question, “Is there harm?”
Let’s use tattoos as an example. I don’t like tattoos. I don’t think they are attractive. I don’t think it is a good idea to permanently mark your body with something that might not reflect who you become. That’s my opinion, and that’s okay.
What was not okay, was that I used to judge people for having tattoos. If they had a tattoo, then they must be a certain type of person, and not in a good way. As the years passed, and people I knew and liked got tattoos, I started making exceptions for them. Well, they were obviously still good people. Then I found out that people I knew and liked had tattoos, I just didn’t know it. Well, there was no reason not to continue to like them. They hadn’t changed, I just found out something about them (tattoos) that I didn’t know before. Gradually, I came to realize that judging people because of their tattoos wasn’t accurate or appropriate.
An epiphany of sorts for me was when I saw a young woman in a store that had a good portion of her visible skin tattooed. When I saw her, I asked myself some questions.
“Are her tattoos harming me?” Obviously not. There was nothing offensive in them, nothing disrespectful in them. They did not jump off her skin and attack me.
“Is she harming me by having tattoos?” Again, obviously not. Her tattoos were not causing her to do anything to me.
“Is she harming others by having tattoos?” Again, no. If she is harming others, it is because of who she is as a person, not because of her tattoos. Tattoos are nothing more than ink on skin.
The question “Is there harm?” is something I ask myself frequently now. There are situations that I am not comfortable with, people that I am not comfortable with, but if there is no harm, what does it matter?
Why should it matter if someone expresses themselves differently than I do, as long as there is no harm? Why should it matter if someone lives a different lifestyle than I do, as long as there is no harm? I think the question, “Is there harm?” is helping me to become less judgmental and more tolerate, more accepting. And that’s the sort of person I want to be.
Is asking yourself, “Is there harm?” something that could help you?
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