One of the greatest stumbling blocks in our relationships is our tendency to judge others. It trips us up in a number of ways. First of all, judgment blocks what we might learn from another. The Guys have always told us to “judge not” for we are all student and teacher simultaneously. The person in your life who drives you most crazy, that pushes your buttons, is probably your best teacher. There is a lot we can learn from a challenging relationship.

Before we judge we have to realize that we don’t know the inner workings of another or even all of the outer circumstances. We never know the whole story. It is important to remember that every life has value; every human being has a soul. Instead of judging, we could pause for a moment and ask ourselves what there is to learn from this person. Perhaps their rudeness, hostility or indifference can teach us to care more deeply for others. The lesson might be to honor ourselves by walking away from negativity toward more positive relationships. Or do we just react and let them teach us more anger and separation? What you learn from another is based on your ability to check your automatic reactions and look deeper into yourself and the other person.

Being aware of what you are teaching in your relationships is just as important as looking at what you learn. Are you teaching love or separation? Judgment creates separation not inclusion. It is obvious that judgment comes from ego not love and our goal should always be to become more loving. What you teach others you will learn. Teach judgment and disharmony and that is what you will learn. What is it your want to teach?

Judgment also gets in the way of really knowing others. Preconceived ideas can shape how we feel about others before we actually get to know them. We have all had the experience of seeing someone and being put off by their appearance or first impressions only to find out later that they are an amazing person that we would have missed out on knowing if we had not put our judgments aside.

What if we began to take a more open approach to the people we encounter? What if we developed the habit of not judging first, but to make decisions about the people we encounter based solely on who we come to know them to be. There is a beautiful Hindu greeting, “Namaste.” It means, “The divine in me recognizes the divine in you” or “I bow to the divine in you.” That simple word says much about not judging and looking past the outer to the spark of God within each of us. The use of the word as a matter of practice can bring healing and love even if you don’t say it aloud, offering it as a silent blessing to all you meet.

Jesus said, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” This doesn’t mean that God will judge us as we judge others. It simply means we are all one and as you judge one you judge all, including yourself.

I feel I must offer this last bit of advice, as you begin to look at where judgment comes into play in your life. You must not forget to be discerning. To say that you will not judge another does not mean that you have to like everything people do, it does not mean that you have to accept bad behavior, and it certainly does not mean that you have to maintain a relationship with someone who is primarily a negative force in your life. To be discerning may mean that you acknowledge that individual as a child of God, releasing your judgments about them while deciding not to spend time with them. Wish them well and offer the blessing, “Go with God.”