I have an ex who, in retrospect, only once I’d got as far away as possible from him did I truly acknowledge that I’d been in an abusive relationship. Long-time readers may recall that he’s the one who drove like a maniac, ranting in a jealous rage. One time, I caught him in the act of trying it on with someone else. He called me a “psycho”, gaslighted me, and obviously turned out to be lying. He also slammed a door at me, hitting my wrist. Clearly, I was still there, so I hadn’t judged the situation adequately yet.

No, I judged our situation when he shouted at me, and I asked him to stop. He then cowered on the floor, covering his head, and, mimicking what he imagined was me as a child, he said, “Oh, pretty please! It’s scaring me! I don’t like it when mummy and daddy fight!”. Then, for added effect, he did a maniacal laugh like the one at the end of Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. I felt myself go cold as reality slapped me in the face. Within 48 hours, we were over, and I’d booked my flight home to Dublin.

There were too many situations with him where I could and should have judged the situation and hit my eject button.

However, denying, rationalising, minimising and even wondering what I had done to ‘provoke’ this in him kept me hanging around for far too long. This man displayed anger issues the first time we met, yet went from “angry asshole” to boyfriend material…

Older and wiser, I’m not afraid to judge a situation because it helps me to make decisions, keeps me safe, plus enables me to live authentically and happily. What worries me is that the more I read about what could be viewed as ‘objections’ to having boundaries, to distancing from inappropriate situations, and even calling a spade a spade, the more I recognise that people who aren’t making judgments about situations or even a person’s behaviour have a problem with appearing judgmental and conversely with believing their judgment has more power than it does.

Judgment: the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions. (source Oxford English Dictionaries)

Exercising judgment is a fundamental part of life. Whether you recognise it or not, you make decisions (not always considered) and come to conclusions (not always sensible) every day. For instance, I look left and right at a pedestrian crossing and judge that it’s safe to cross.

When I’ve opted out of relationships, often after I’ve flogged that donkey till it collapses, I’ve judged the situation, which includes me, the other party, and the combined result, and eventually decided it no longer works for me.

If you avoid making decisions, it means you avoid making judgments.

To judge/pass judgment: to criticise or condemn someone from a position of assumed moral superiority.

Another meaning for judgment: a misfortune or calamity viewed as divine punishment.

If, while making a judgment, you get your knickers in a knot about potentially being perceived as ‘judgmental’, you mix up your meanings! You also have inverted ego issues that cause you to make other people’s actions about you. Just as we often give people what we hope to get back, how you feel about judgment says a lot about you.

You don’t make ‘judgments’ because you don’t want people to make judgments about you. You’re effectively trying to control the uncontrollable. You likely regard exercising judgment as rejection. Of course, all this worrying is a waste. People go ahead with their own lives. They make their own judgments even though they might not specifically criticise or condemn you from a position of moral superiority or lay down divine punishment. Not everything is about you.

You can still use your intelligence, gut, instincts, common sense, eyes, ears, nose, boundaries, etc., to make judgments that enable you to get on with your life in a healthy, happy manner by opting into what works and opting you out of what doesn’t.

If it helps you to feel better, forget the word ‘judgment’ and replace it with ‘decision’. You might not like it, but you still have to do it.

A life without decisions is stagnation.

With her straight-to-the-point, often hilarious comments, long-time reader Grace said on my last post, “You kick a dog. The dog runs. In what way has that dog judged you?” Amen.

Let’s say you lure the dog back with a piece of meat, stroke it, and then kick it. The dog runs off again, as it rightly should, and doesn’t come return no matter what you throw at it. Still, in what way has the dog judged you?

You kicked the dog twice and even went to the trouble of wooing it back. Common sense suggests it would be foolhardy of the dog to go anywhere near you again. The dog instinctively backed off for its self-preservation and sensed the danger. Yeah, maybe when the dog gets down the street, it has a think to itself and judges the situation. And, okay, yeah, perhaps the dog even calls you a twat or whatever. But really, what has that dog done to you lately? It certainly hasn’t judged you, even though it probably should. By the way, if this situation sounds vaguely familiar even though you’re not a dog, just swap in being lured back to a relationship with Future Faking and sex.

I hate to break it to you, but you’re not God, a higher power, a county court or whatever judge, or even Judge Judy.

Whatever you believe or even deem someone to be when you tell them all about themselves (clicks fingers in front of face with attitude), your judgment has limited impact.

It’s not as if you judge someone and, as soon as the thought occurs or you say it, lightning strikes or you put a curse on them. Every media outlet within a 100-mile radius won’t make your judgment public by printing newspapers, putting posters up in the streets, and pumping out articles online. The [person you judge] won’t be ostracised, struck down with the clap, or branded. Your judgment is just your opinion pertaining to you.

It’s egotistical to believe you ‘can’t’ make judgments for fear of how it may affect the person.

You automatically come from a place of superiority. Get off your pedestal because, if you don’t, you’re a hop, skip, and a jump to being a Florence.

All you have to do is judge the situation. Yes, that might sometimes involve judging someone’s actions or character. Making a judgment about someone isn’t about believing you’re superior. No, it’s because if you don’t, you may allow your vagina/penis/ego/lack of self-esteem/desire for status/desire to be the exception to the rule/betting on potential, or whatever, blind or even put you in harm’s way.

Sometimes, you’ve got to call a spade a spade. Yes, your judgment and decision might dent someone’s ego. Still, don’t inflate yourself and think their life won’t go on because you judged yourself out of a situation. You can judge a situation without being judgmental. It doesn’t mean you’re ‘better’ than someone; it does mean you know what’s best for yourself.

Your thoughts?

Check out my book and ebook Mr Unavailable and the Fallback Girl in my bookshop.

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