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Recently, I attended a public speaking event with approximately 250 people. The speakers, as well as the audience, were culturally and socially diverse. According to the program, there were 17 speakers listed—including me. I don’t like admitting this, but as I listened to each speaker, I began judging them…negatively judging them. As a former Toastmaster, I judged them on their speech content and their delivery. Each speaker was allowed 4-5 minutes to talk, and as I judgmentally listened to each speaker, I began feeling worse and worse. My Universal antenna was screaming at me. Yes, yes, yes, I know that indulging in judgmental behavior subtracts from my happiness and I know that I’m a reflection of my judgments (ouch), but I couldn’t stop it. I was on a runaway judgment train. Just then, without fail, the Universe realized my dilemma and “They” decided to step in and dig me out of my downward spiral.
Universe to the Rescue
After approximately 7 speakers presented, a professional comedian was brought on stage to offer some much needed and welcomed comic relief. I was pleasantly surprised because this comedian was hysterical. I laughed out loud the minute he cracked his first joke. What was so funny? He began making fun of the previous speakers and actually verbalized a few of my own negative judgments. Not only did he make fun of the speakers, he poked fun at the event itself. This guy had little reverence for the sophisticated social gathering as he dropped the “F” bomb more times than I could count. This made me laugh even harder. I verbally thanked the Universe for the welcomed “break” in the program. Laughter was exactly what I needed to snap me out of my judgmental fog. Besides, now I had someone else to do the “dirty work” for me. I was really enjoying his on-point observations, but then something happened to immediately stop me from laughing.
As I mentioned, there were a variety of cultural, economic and religious backgrounds in attendance. In fact, one of the first speakers that day was a flaming-out-of-the-closet-born-again Christian. I was sitting in the front row and Ms. Born Again was also sitting in the front row approximately five seats to my left. At first, I hadn’t paid much attention to Ms. Born Again until her “thank-you Jesus” speech, which of course, I negatively judged. Now, Ms. Born Again was sitting on the edge of her seat moving her head rapidly side to side with complete disapproval and disgust for the foul-mouthed politically-incorrect comedian. My focus shifted from having a great time to silence. Ms. Born Again looked like she was about to explode. She kept squirming in her seat while exhaling audible sighs. Now, I was paying attention to her and how offended she was. As the comedian continued, Ms. Born Again began displaying even more noticeable disgust by covering her own mouth while her eyes grew bigger with each four-letter word spoken.
My attention went from enjoying the comedian to focusing on a narrow-minded, judgmental woman in the flesh. Something felt oddly familiar to me. (Remember, I’d been struggling with my own judgmental behavior prior to the comedian taking the stage.)
As I kept my eyes on Ms. Born Again, the Universe spoke directly to me: “That woman with her hand over her mouth, shaking her head in disapproval, is you,” They announced. “What? No she’s not,” I shot back with a quick argument.
Yes, at first, I refused to accept the Universe’s obvious claim. “She’s intolerant,” I argued, and “I’m very tolerant.” It was a losing battle. I was pleading my case to deaf ears. The Universe spoke to me again. “Whenever you judge someone else’s behavior, including your own, you are intolerant—intolerant to someone else’s preferences, intolerant to someone else’s perspectives, and more importantly, intolerant to Self. That Universal bullet shot me right between the eyes. It was at that moment that I was able to actually see myself through another woman’s behavior.
Thank you Universe for the visual; and, thank you for the lesson. Now, I get it.