Learning to differentiate between judgment and evaluation is an essential skill in advancing on the path of spiritual growth. Judgment fosters feelings of anger, and powerlessness. Evaluation stirs compassion and a desire to take action to raise the situation to a higher level.
So you’ve decided you want to grow spiritually. Perhaps you have heard it is important to avoid judging yourself and others. The problem is if you don’t know the difference between judgment and evaluation, you can have a misguided belief that has you tolerating the intolerable.
How do you differentiate between evaluation and judgment?
This is a powerful question every beginner on the spiritual path will face sooner or later. It has been said that the source of all misery is demanding that life be different than it is. The sooner you learn the difference between evaluation and judgment, the happier your life will be.
Consider this situation: You see a story about a woman who tied her 8 year old son to a tree and pinned a sign on his shirt that said “I am a bad boy.” It was a hot summer day and as part of his punishment, she refused him any food or water for the entire day. He was not allowed to use the bathroom, so his shame was magnified when he wet his pants.
Judgment thoughts: “What a monster woman. She ought to be tied to a tree. I can’t believe a mother would be so horrible to her son. This should never have happened to that boy. God will surely punish her for her sins.”
Judgment looks at a situation, declares that it is wrong and should not be happening. The judging person is usually upset, perhaps angry or enraged at what they judge as wrong. This triggers the fight or flight chemicals in the judge’s body, compromising the judge’s immune system as well as stimulating a “bad mood.”
Each time the judge tells the story, he or she will feel the anger and rage all over again.
Evaluation thoughts: “Tying the boy to the tree was harsh punishment. I wonder what has happened in the mother’s life that she felt this was the best way to deal with this. I feel so sad for the boy and the mother. I hope the justice system arranges for her to get parenting skills if she is mentally and emotionally capable of learning a better way to parent. I hope the boy gets counseling to deal with the trauma. If he doesn’t, he will likely do a similar thing to his child when he has one.”
Evaluation looks at a situation and lists the facts. In this case, the only facts are, the mother was disciplining her son by pinning a sign to his shirt, tying him to a tree for the day without food or water, and refused to let him use the bathroom and he wet his pants. The thought is “OK this happened, what do I want to do about it?”
This puts the evaluator in a positive, solution oriented frame of mind. By skipping the judgment segment, which does nothing to fix the problem, the evaluator is experiencing the emotion of compassion, which has the vibration of love.
A simple way to know whether you are judging or evaluating is by how you feel. If you are angry and upset, you are likely judging. If you feel compassion, you are likely evaluating.
There are two benefits to being an evaluator, rather than a judge. You will have less stress, and your attention will be on what you want to do (or not do) about it. It serves no one, and solves nothing, to spend time wanting something that has happened to not have happened.