Why not judge people, actions, events, and ourselves? Aren’t we allowed to draw conclusions?
Judgments and evaluations are labels–shortcuts that deprive the judged from the richness of their content and experience.
For example, remember on “Friends” when Ross made his pro/con list of Rachel and she read it?
“Just a waitress” was his judgment.
Reducing someone to a label denies their complex self. Implicit also is that being a server is inadequate as the present vocation for his potential mate.
Ross can conclude that, and noticing, observing, might have yielded this richer observation: Rachel is a server right now, and I seek a partner whose career interests stimulate my intellect more intensely, such as if she pursued a job in the knowledge economy.
Rachel can still tell Ross to get lost and can debate the intellectual merits of her position. And still the sample observation that includes his feelings would be more specific and less reductive of Rachel’s context and existence.
How might their rift have been different if he had noticed his perceptions and not judged?
We are allowed to have values and preferences. We are allowed to weigh our options on lists. And people are so much more complex than a label, such as lazy, stupid, hot, ugly, our vocation, or even seemingly positive labels like nice.
We can acknowledge not enjoying a rail-thin body in a potential mate (observation) without judging rail-thin people as ugly. We can prefer classic rock without evaluating classical music as boring.
The authors of this post are not our diagnoses.
We raise our children with reinforcement that they are not any grade that they earn in school.
We are all complex, rich human beings living in the contexts of our lives with a multitude of attributes that make up the totality of us.
Are we allowed to draw conclusions? Yes! We can conclude what does and does not enrich our lives and meet our values. (This extends to ours and others’ actions.) And we can do so by considering specific, contextualized observations without judging.