Curbing Your “Isolated Thoughts of Judgment”

August 27, 2022 by Charlie Hedges − 0 Comments

It is a good discipline to wonder in each situation if people wouldn’t be better served by our silence than by our words.” Henri Nouwen (Lifted fr Wm Britton, Wisdom from the Margins)

A few nights ago, as I was sitting in my usual seat in our family room, I became acutely aware that I nearly said something mildly critical to my wife about some very unimportant thing she was doing. However, for some reason it occurred to me, “Why?” “Why not just keep this to yourself” After all, it is only a wandering sense of judgmentalism that will do neither one of us any good.”

Thinking Twice About Being Critical

It was then I thought: Yes, both my wife and I would be much better off if I simply kept silent. Why does she need to know my critical and judgmental thinking? Will it improve our marriage? No. Will it make her a better person? No. Finally, will silence preserve a sense of a happy home? Hell yes!!!

It was Dietrich Bonhoeffer that wrote, “… isolated thoughts of judgment can be curbed and smothered by never allowing them to be uttered.” I really identify with this idea of “isolated thoughts of judgment.” I can, by nature, be judgmental, cynical, and overly critical. But then, these are uncomfortably common traits of the human species.

Our “Judgmentalism Filter”

After 73 years I am finally learning the value of keeping my thoughts to myself. The cool thing is, it is not that difficult to do if… I can maintain some degree of self and social awareness. The brain can provide us with a brand new “judgmentalism filter.” Every time I think I am being critical and judgmental, it is good to run those thoughts through my filter.

When I do that, everyone is better off. When I don’t use my filter, I will inevitably be defensive or arrogant.

Choose Wisely

As usual, it all comes down to “choice.” Sometimes it is very helpful to choose to verbalize criticism. It is necessary. However, it is much less frequently necessary than we think!

Just like my mom always said…

If You Can’t Say Something Nice

Don’t Say Anything at All

Photo courtesy of HbrH at istockphoto

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