I recently bought an underripe green avocado and set it out on counter to ripen. I picked it up a few days later to make my guacamole and it was…ugly. Instead of an even, black surface, it was a blotchy, brownish, dark green color. I hesitantly cut it open and, to my surprise, inside was the most beautiful, light green avocado flesh. It was soft and smooth and made a delicious guacamole dip. As I ate my chips and guac, the idea of how this avocado mirrors our society popped into my mind.
When I looked at that avocado, I made a judgement. I saw it’s hideous outer layer and pushed aside any favorable thoughts about what could be under the skin. It’s like the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Unfortunately, it is normal for humans to judge others. But why do we do this? Judgement arises when we don’t understand the reasons for another person’s behavior and because our minds naturally seek out the negative (e.g., mistakes people make, differences in appearance, etc.).1
I wish I could say that I am beyond that, but I’m human and do judge even though I do my best to catch myself when this happens. I know that self-reflection fosters growth, so I ask myself why I’m judging. I have learned that sometimes I fall into the trap of listening to the diet culture and believing that beauty only comes in one shape and size. Surrounding myself with people of different body types has helped me be less judgmental about myself which has led me to be less judgmental of others. When it comes to actions and behaviors, sometimes I need to remind myself “to each his own”2 because my life experiences and realities aren’t the same as the next person’s. Who am I to evaluate someone’s decision when I don’t know their backstory? When I take the time to reflect on my motivation for judging, I will be better able to stop, or at least soften, my thoughts in the future.
Despite it being human nature to judge, once I get to get to know someone, I am more forgiving. When I think about my family and friends, I note that some are balding, some are overweight, and some are short, but they all are good people. I am able to look past these “flaws” and recognize their worth as individuals. And they do the same for me and enjoy my company for the sake of my company. They laughed with me when I accidentally went onto a porn website at work. They cried with me when my dad died. They shook their heads in frustration with me at the incompetence of our education system.3 It’s building those relationships that have helped me learn to be more accepting and tolerant.
Living in a world without judgement is not our reality, but I do get a glimpse of this when I think of the the menagerie of pets I’ve had over my lifetime. My dogs, cats, rats, mice, birds, and rabbit4 never cared that I had a zit on my nose or if my pants were a little snug. They greeted me when I came home from work and searched for me when they woke up from their naps. They just wanted to be petted and loved and they gave me love in return. My pets had a sense of who I was as a person and that was enough for them.
It’s really a shame that people have a tendency to judge the superficial when there’s so much beauty and worth on the inside. People look down on animals when we really should be taking a page from their book and push aside any thoughts about appearance. Now when I catch myself making a judgement, I will think back to that ugly avocado. If I hadn’t given it a chance and peeked inside, I would have missed out on a seriously wonderful guacamole dip!
What self-reflective thoughts do you have when you catch yourself judging others? Please share in the comment section below.
1Thank you, Psychology Today!
2And “to each HER own”!
3I’ve worked as a teacher or a school psychologist since 2003, so I’ve witnessed many instances of incompetence!
4I’ve also had a turtle and some fish, but we never really bonded.
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