The Log In My Own Eye (a.k.a. I’m Still Judgmental!)

Last week I was on one of those long, glorious walks with my husband along the Bay; the sun was shining, and our conversation was rich as we were both sharing what we were each choosing to celebrate about the day of work we had just completed.  And then…

My Thoughts of Judgment

And then, this guy walking his iguana on a leash passed us, all the while talking to his pet the way new parents talk to babies.  As heads turned and people pointed, I purposely

iguana on a leash

Just because I’m not the type to take an Iguana on a walk doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it, right? 🙂

looked out over the ocean; ignoring the guy who I was sure was only out there for the attention that pet-walking an iguana can do for you. I internally rolled my eyes and didn’t miss a beat of the conversation with my hubby.

A little further along and I saw a couple of guys just proudly standing by their cars.  It struck me that they were only there to show off their cars… like they somehow felt cooler just watching people look-over their cars with admiration.  Instantaneously, I felt both judgment that anyone would care that much about a car, and pity that their identity was that tied into a possession.  I’m pretty sure I looked back out at the ocean. I was not going to be one more gawker who gave them their jollies.

Neither interaction was really in my consciousness; they were just a few of the many thoughts we all see flow down our streams of thought.  Had it only been one of them I doubt I would have even realized I had thought it. But choosing to look away from humanity twice got my attention.

I immediately began to process with Greg.  “Wow.  We’re out here in the most beautiful weather, getting fresh air and exercise, and I find myself judging people as we walk by them!  What’s that about?”  I was determined to observe it in myself and bring it into my consciousness.

Picture of Trikkes, 3-wheel bicyce things

Who would ride these things (aka Trikkes), I wondered? (Truthfully? Now I want to try! Ha!)

Then a couple came toward us on what I now think were things called Trikkes.  (I just learned that by googling “weird stand-up bike thing.”)  They were standing on 3-wheel machines that they were guiding to go back and forth, think like a slalom course, by leaning one way and then the other.  They definitely had to take up a lot of sidewalk to navigate through the  crowds. You, unfortunately, now know where this is going.  Why don’t they just ride bikes? Only people who want attention would use those!

Understanding Why I Judge

And while I felt an impulse of guilt that I was judging again. The value of having so many examples all at once helped me see the pattern: I was judging people who I deemed as wanting attention.

We then spent the next hour talking about 1) Why I had even assumed that those people had attention as their motive? 2) Whether that was even a bad thing if that was, in fact, their only motive! 3) That don’t all humans crave attention, so why would I hold that against someone? 4) Where in my life I seek attention and whether I must think that my way of seeking attention is somehow superior to their method? 5) And that, if that was their call for attention, why was I so set against giving it to them?

It wasn’t lost on me, at all, that I love attention.  That was a little painful to admit because I apparently hold some strong beliefs that we’re not supposed to seek it, that we must pretend it doesn’t matter to us, and that we can’t admit we like it.  But I do.  I do like attention.  And my guess is that while we all want it from different people and perhaps in different ways, we all want to know we’re noticed for whatever is important to us.

My processing has gone on all week… I’ve been watching myself like a hawk as I interact with people and process their behaviors.  Why should someone wanting attention bother me?  And can I be more honest with what I see as the shadow-side of me, perhaps looking at where I want attention and why I think I need to act all “false-humble” about it?  I’ve been blown away with some of my thoughts.

My Judgment Says More About Me Than It Does About Them

What wows me is how easy it would have been to not notice this tendency in myself.   Or, to notice it, as I may have done before, but not really ever taken the time to really see why it bothers me and what that says about me.  Because it’s not really strangers on the road that can disrupt my peace; it’s what they symbolize to me that I’m reacting to.  And I’m reacting to them because there’s something in me that wants to react differently.

The Christian Scriptures have often-quoted verses in Matthew 7 that basically say: “Why worry about the speck in your friend’s eye, when you have a log in your own?”

I hate to think how long I’ve been living with judgment in this area…. assuming that there was something wrong with those people.  When really there was something far bigger in me.

Because the truth is, when I sit with it, as I have this week, I want to admire people who don’t look mainstream and who choose their own unique path in life.  That man with the iguana, taking pictures with kids and walking slow with his short-four-legged friend, probably brought more smiles and felt more joy that day than I did!  And those guys with cars?  Good for them for taking pride in something. And I should just be thrilled that they are hanging out together, being with their friends!  And now I’m way impressed with that couple who was willing to go to those lengths to not just exercise, but to be adventurous, fun, and daring.

I am choosing to consciously be fan of people who do things differently.

Now, as I go on my walk, I’m looking at people and whispering, “Good for you!  The world needs your spark! I love that you’re willing to express yourself!”

And I’m hoping that what I practice giving to others will benefit me too… for one day, I may need to give that same love to myself when I choose to do something different.

Who could have ever guessed that I actually had that much to learn about me from an iguna-walker, boys with muscle cars, and Trikke-riders? Ha!


Other posts on judgment:

The Judgment of Weight

Are We Competitors? Or Can We Be Friends?

How Annoying People Can Grow Me





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18 Responses to The Log In My Own Eye (a.k.a. I’m Still Judgmental!)

  1. Yogagurl says:

    You are a very nice person to even look within. You are open and trying to be nice. That is good. So many don’t. Thanks for sharing. It may inspire others to look at their behaviors.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Oh, I so love reading your thoughts. Thank you for sharing this one. I can relate. I am pretty sure I like attention too and that there is still part of me that thinks this is a bad thing.

    But you reminded me of a similar time, when I realized that I was very bothered by people who didn’t do what they said they would do (like call or show up or ..) and also lateness. And I was attracting a lot of it in my life. I realized that it wasn’t about them at all; it was about me, and the impossible standards of perfection I hold myself to, and I was projecting that outward because it was more comfortable to be mad at someone than it was to feel how I was making myself feel by judging myself for not being perfect, making mistakes … Every time I notice it now, I offer myself love + forgiveness.

    • ShastaGFC says:

      Oh Elizabeth I LOVE you for sharing your own story on this subject. And that is such a great example! Thanks for writing in… it’s easy to start feeling like I over-shared by admitting that stuff! 🙂

  3. LOVE the noticing of your behavior, being the observer!! I want more of that in my own life AND my dream is to have a partner who I can process something like that with for an hour….how blessed you are! xoxoxo

    • ShastaGFC says:

      Kathy– truly, because I’m an extravert, which often means that I need to process externally, I am so grateful to have a husband who loves hearing my heart, admits his own stuff, and invites lots of exploration. I want that for you, too! If not immediately with a partner, then with friends– they’d be so lucky to hear you process these kinds of things! Thanks for posting!

  4. Anonymous says:

    The quote you reference from Matthew is one of my favorites. We ALL have a log in our eye. Not sure if you are familiar with the original version of Hans Christian Andersons’ The Snow Queen, which describes the devils making a mirror that they hold up above humanity which distorts humans in its reflection. The devils are amused at the distortions until one day they drop the mirror and it falls to earth, shattering into millions of pieces which pierce the eye and heart of all of humanity, with the exception of the innocent heroine of the story, Gerda. I always think that this is a really apt description of what Jesus is talking about in this passage, we all suffer from distorted views of others and ourselves as we are all ‘fallen’ away from the perfection of God. This quote by Solzhenitsyn also comes to mind: “If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?””

    What I love about your post is that it taps into this truth about human behavior in a very honest, real way. And you are living out the next half of the verse! “You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” The more we understand about our own shortcomings, judgemental thought patterns, and other negative behaviors, the more compassionately, kindly and lovingly we can help others become aware of their own. When we know deeply and intimately how hard it is for us to deal with our own imperfections (perfectionism, neediness, anxieties, approval-seeking, overly critical, etc etc), we know how hard it is for others to deal with them too.

    And one final thought… to me it’s interesting that what was bugging you was people doing things that were ‘attention seeking.’ I would have been much more irritated at peopel doing things that were interrupting how *I* wanted the walk to be (getting in my way, talking on my phone, etc.). Talk about my own agenda getting in the way of a good time!! 🙂

    Thanks for being so transparent and giving us all reason to reflect on our own thought patterns. 🙂

    • ShastaGFC says:

      Wow– what a great and thought-provoking comment! And I will definitely be using that Solzhenitsyn quote you shared in an upcoming blog– it’s poignant and true. Thank you for taking the time to type that all up. I also really appreciated sharing why it is so important to realize why something bugs us because you’ll have a different reason than I will. THANK YOU! Hope to see you commenting more in the future! 🙂

  5. Cindy Wolf says:

    Wow Shasta, way to turn a negative into a positive. Kudos to you for being so brave to share so much about yourself. I just received this prayer from a friend who runs a women’s support group from cancer survivors. I thought after reading your comments that it would comfort you. Dear God, This is my friend whom I love and this is my prayer for her. Help her live her life to the fullest. Please cause her to excel above her expectations. Help her to shine in the darkest places where it is impossible to love. Protect her at all times, lift her up when she needs You the most, and let her know when she walks with You, she will always be safe. Amen!

  6. Amy Goldman says:

    Good for you for being willing to look within! That takes a lot of courage as it’s not easy to look at our “dark” side. What a gift. I can relate to your story. I know when I start to judge others I’m usually not liking myself and the “stinking thinking” starts to raise it’s ugly head and it feels yucky. So kutos to you.

  7. Peggy says:

    Shasta, it’s just like you to catch yourself and want to know why and how to grow from this! You are amazing, and rare, and an excellent model for emotional maturity….a person willing to do the tough work of self-reflection, taking responsibility, making a conscious decision to re-train your brain. More than good stuff, it become a building block of your “self”, your character, and thus helps continue the upward spiral of humanity’s progression. (Just think of where civilization would be if we all did this!) Love you!

  8. Sara says:

    Have you read “Loving What Is” by Byron Katie? She teaches how to question this type of judgmental thought with a few key questions. Amazingly brilliant.

  9. Cindy La Ferle says:

    Thank you for this insightful post. In a similar situation, I found myself recoiling from Facebook for the very same reasons you note in your post. I was annoyed — and sometimes offended — by what I often believed was rampant “narcissism” or over-the-top attention seeking (and competitive behavior) on Facebook. Like you, I was raised to believe it’s wrong to toot your own horn, and wrong to be so desperately in need of attention … And then I looked at some of the things I was posting on social media — and suddenly I “got” what was bothering me — a similar epiphany to yours.

  10. Maureen says:

    Being judgmental is such a wonderful topic and you handled it so well – funny yet serious at the same time. (The photo of the iguana, BTW, is priceless.)
    Having worked in academia and law, I was required to evaluate (i.e. judge) others’ work product every day. What I noticed eventually, however, is that I often allowed these evaluations to seep over into being judgmental about the person whose writing I was evaluating. It was very difficult to stop myself from doing this and I realized it was a way of trying to feel superior. I still find myself making inappropriate judgments (like those you discuss in your blog entry). I see others doing it too (most disturbingly my husband, who is not particularly self-observant and probably does not want to change). Thanks for reminding me of the importance of working on me.

  11. Maxine says:

    Hi Shasta, I really appreciated your thoughts about attention seeking behaviors. I am certain that you have heard others refer to a child’s as doing something just for attention. You may even been told that when you were a child, hence the negative attitude towards those seeking it. I wholeheartedly agree that we all want it and venture to say we all need it! I would just like to say that the next time you hear or see a child seeking attention with behaviors they probably need it and we should not punish them. The truth is they are looking to feel secure and if they get the attention they need consistently the need will decrease. When they grow up hopefully secure and feel free to embrace other’s qualities and differences without judgement.