Preferential treatment

Why you gotta judge?
Stop judging me.
Gah, she’s so… judgemental.

It’s tough. We live in an anti-judging world, but we, as a species, are naturally very judgmental. Even the people who judge the judgers are judging.

Well, today, I’d like to take a crack at establishing some peace in this conversation by clarifying a thing or two about a thing or two.

Judging has a snooty, sneering, elitist feel to it. It carries undertones of hatred, even.

When you judge, you’re usually taking a generality and applying it to the specific. You’re taking the generality of a skin color and telling yourself a story about a certain person, for example. Or, you’re holding things against someone. Putting them on trial in your mind and executing them.

This kind of judgment hurts not only those we judge, but ourselves, because of how close-minded and limiting it is.

HOWEVER, there’s something that must be clarified. Being judgmental is different than having preferences.

Judging serves no one. But having preferences is one of the things that makes us human.

When you allow yourself to have preferences, you flow in your own, unique direction through life.

I prefer that, so I’ll go there…
Nope, don’t prefer that — gonna go the other way…
Ooh, this is cool — let’s check this out…
That guy rubbed me wrong — not hanging out with someone like that again…
This feels right — I prefer doing more of this…
I don’t like the way that sounded— I choose to carry myself differently than that…

This is how going through life with preferences feels. No hating. No rotting feeling at the base of the gut. No sneering. No wasted time talking trash, carrying toxic beliefs, or holding anything against anyone for life. You’re merely preferring (and not preferring) certain things. And that’s awesome.

When you allow yourself the freedom to have nice, big, vivacious, shameless preferences, you play the full tune of your life like no one else can.

It’s important to stay flexible and open here. Let your preferences change and evolve by staying observant, aware, and open-minded. When we get concrete in our preferences without giving them any thought, it’s easy to slip back into judgement.

Dive in head-first to the grand buffet of life with gusto. If you want the sushi, fine. And then, tomorrow, if you want the surf n’ turf, great. But this doesn’t mean you have to judge the guy loading his plate with the Baron of Beef with his ass crack showing (ok, maybe a little).

Having preferences is a beautiful thing. Judging is limiting and ungroovy. Steer clear.

So, prefer away. Prefer whatever the hell you want to prefer. And then, tomorrow, if those preferences change, all the better.

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Jonas writes daily essays and meditations here at Medium. To get them delivered straight to your inbox as soon as they’re live, click here.