To Judge Or Not To Judge

The day before U.S. Thanksgiving, we posted a video by a colleague of ours, about gratitude vs. appreciation, that got some polar opposite commentary. Some of the blog comments we didn’t approve, and other statements (written in ALL CAPS with lots of exclamation points!!!) went to our ticket desk, because the people replied to our email instead of posting on the blog.

And after having all the questionable comments passed on to us (as in, the ones from people that were simply angry because what they cherish as truth had been “attacked” in their eyes), we started to ponder the different kinds of judgments that we humans can and do make.

We sorted the reactions into piles, read the messages, felt the accusations, considered the facts, and came to a conclusion (i.e. we judged them).

Basically, we determined that there are really only two types of judging:

  1. Judging based on what you know (cognitive consonance).
  2. Judging based on what you think you know that has suddenly been challenged (cognitive dissonance).

We’ve talked about cognitive dissonance before. You might find this free report interesting.

In a nutshell, the terms mean this:

Cognitive Consonance: A state of harmony and internal consistency arising from compatibility among a person’s attitudes, behavior, beliefs, and/or knowledge; mental agreement or congruency.

Cognitive Dissonance: A state of psychological tension arising from incompatibility among a person’s attitudes, behavior, beliefs, and/or knowledge, or when a choice has to be made between equally attractive or repulsive alternatives; mental disagreement or incongruity.

The latter causes the brain to self-destruct, in a sense, like the stereotypical cartoon robot spewing, “does not compute” while smoke comes out of his ears and springs pop out of his head.

The former isn’t as funny to watch, so you won’t see it in cartoons, but it would involve the robot taking in new information, processing the data, and saying, “Thank you!”

So how does all this relate to gratitude and appreciation (besides the “Thank you” bit)?…

The mentor in the video, Drew Rozell, Ph.D., made the point that when you consciously feel “gratitude” for something, you subconsciously tend to bring up memories from the past that Africachild-smcaused you NOT to feel gratitude.

If you think hard about this, you’ll probably realize the truth in that theory — we are taught since childhood to feel grateful this way, after all. Your mother may have told you, “Be grateful for your food, because there are starving children in Africa,” or “Be grateful that you even have a dog, and take him for a walk right now.”

“Count your blessings” becomes synonymous with being happy for what you have, because others don’t have it, or you used to not have it, or someday you may not have it… and, by definition, you CAN’T feel grateful for something without comparing it, even momentarily, to being without it; otherwise, what are you grateful FOR?

On the other hand, “clean appreciation”, as Drew calls it, is simply a breathtaking feeling of, “Wow, that’s beautiful!” or “Wow, I love that!”rainbow-sm When you see a beautiful sunset or rainbow, your first thought is probably not, “Dammit, why can’t I see those more often?” You just appreciate it from the heart, in the moment.

However, if you sat down and wrote in your journal, “I’m grateful to be able to see a rainbow,” it’s natural to automatically think, “Well, not every day, but sometimes…” and suddenly be thinking of NOT seeing that rainbow.

Okay, enough of my take on the subtle distinction Drew made.

What I really want to talk about is the two types of REACTION it caused, not only to Drew, but to his theory, and in the end, to us, too.

The most passion-filled responses were those who experienced cognitive dissonance over Drew’s video.

Obviously there’s nothing wrong with passion… it’s something we need to tap into to accomplish nearly anything in this life. But there is such a thing as misdirected passion, which is what happens when cognitive dissonance occurs.

Now, to be clear, cognitive dissonance CAN happen when the new information is false, too… and with metaphysical concepts, it’s not as cut-and-dry as physical ones. For instance, it would be easy to point out quackery if someone’s trying to convince you that 2 + 2 really equals 5, when you’re sitting there with 4 blocks in front of you. But even with spiritual growth theories, if you sit down and think it through rationally, and then listen honestly to your heart and soul, you’ll know whether there’s a kernel of truth or not.

In this case, if you’re still unsure, consider what I’m laying out in this article first. If you’re angry, is it because you know the evidence is false, or because you don’t like how it disagrees with what you thought you knew?

You see, after being taught during childhood what gratitude is about, as I outlined above, the people that got angry have gone on to use gratitude as a manifestation tool, and that let them create new theories about the “attitude of gratitude”. Specifically, they have learned — and maybe even taught — that gratitude is one of the strongest and most beneficial emotional vibrations you can experience, and therefore can only produce good.

And Drew agreed with the basis of that in his video… but said appreciation was BETTER.

robot_explode-smHowever, most of them saw that statement as attacking what they thought they knew about gratitude, and they reacted with “does not compute!”

They forgot what they had likely initially learned about gratitude as children, because they had long since consciously overridden that programming with NEW programming about gratitude… but like with a computer, there’s always a residual bit left, which further contributed to their anger, frustration, and/or confusion, and caused them to lash out.

They judged Drew, the theory, and us by coming from an ivory tower perspective — they turned into what we often call “Spiritual Hall Monitors” — and wrote variations of “Drew must not be as evolved as I am,” or “Drew’s focused on the wrong things,” or “How dare you attack gratitude, you must be a bunch of heathens,” etc. (yes, that last one is paraphrased, but that’s the basic sentiment we got).

When our support staff questioned them about their irrational and elitist judgments, several of them said, “Well, Barry and Heather judge all the time,” or “Well, Drew’s judging too… he’s judging gratitude!”

Now, here’s the difference: the judging based on cognitive dissonance — the type that leads to being a Spiritual Hall Monitor — comes from a reaction that happens in the moment, not a researched and well-thought-out response that happens over time.

It’s based on hanging onto what they want to believe, no matter what kind of evidence is placed before them. It’s the equivalent of a court judge deciding “He’s guilty!” before hearing the entire case.

Of course, some of our cognitive consonance responders — the ones who said, “Yes, that feels right, thank you for the clarification!” — also may have reacted in the moment, but it was a reaction of consonance, or harmony.

By reading their comments, I’d say that a lot of them then thought about it, even for a moment, to check how this new theory sat with them before typing out what they wanted to say. They felt the sense of knowing that what Drew taught had at least a kernel of truth for them — that while their childhood beliefs about gratitude may have been temporarily overwritten, they’re still there beneath it all.

This second type of judging — which is what we do when we write a report or blog post that may seem to be harsh on a cherished ideal, standard teaching, or even a particular person — is based on accepting rather than rejecting new data.

Eckhart Tolle-smWe’ll read an entire book and numerous articles by Eckhart Tolle, then even more articles about him, and then study certain practices and tactics that he’s accused of using, before writing a report like The Eckhart Effect.

Like court judges, or investigative journalists, we accept and weigh ALL the information and evidence before coming to a conclusion. And yes, we understand that journalism, in theory, is supposed to be about fair, balanced and unbiased reporting of facts, but it’s nearly impossible for any human to be totally impartial. Either their media outlet dictates the slant, or they end up with their own biases through the course of investigating.

A court judge, likewise, may begin impartial… but over the course of the trial, he makes up his mind based on what’s presented to him.

That’s what we do too… we had nothing against Eckhart until we studied him from all sides. Likewise anybody we wrote about in our Dying to Improve Life report.

We don’t do it simply to judge; we do it to help people. And some subscribers have come to us, asking our opinions on this or that teacher or product or book, as a result. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you if a certain mentor is teaching the absolute truth — we can only tell you if we’ve experienced him or her being incongruent with their teachings, or not walking their talk, or manipulating people, or foolishly putting students in danger. And we can tell you if they’re just regurgitating time-worn principles, or putting their own experiences behind it.

So we don’t mind being told that we judge… just don’t say that we do it without thinking, or because of hasty reactions based on cognitive dissonance.

We come by our ability to judge the honest way, and we believe it’s the most beneficial technique that people can use to sift and sort through the mounds of information that’s dumped on us each day, and come up with practical approaches to help us (and our readers, like you) get RESULTS in life.

We encourage you to leave your comments below… but if you’re going to judge, do it from a place of investigation and thinking it through — from a place of cognitive consonance that you speak the truth based on the facts.

It never goes well if you judge based on cognitive dissonance, or an immediate emotional reaction because something doesn’t agree with your cherished beliefs.

Your Partner in the Quest For
Living a Life Without Limits

Filed under: Critical-Thinking

3 Responses to “To Judge Or Not To Judge”

  1. I don’t agree with your description of journalism , as you used two descriptive that should not apply, i.e., ‘fair’ & ‘balanced’. Journalism should be – and seldom is, nowadays – unbiased, with no particular ‘row to hoe’, in the parlance of my country-folk ancestors.

    Other than that, I agreed with the source post, and I agree with this one. OK, I’m a bit leery of the consonance/dissonance thing, but that’s just me. In essence, I suspect, it’s a matter of overcoming the attitudes – and prejudices – we’ve been trained, for lack of a better term, to accept.

    Nonetheless, the post under discussion, and this one, have merit and are worthy of discerning thought.

    Thank you.

    [ Barry’s Reply ] —

    No need to apologize for the Southern vernacular. Yeah, we get it… “row to hoe” — sorta brings up memories for me of my Grand Pappy Horus Pucker (H.P. for short), in Alabama, telling me to not buy a “pig-in-a-poke.” Hey, setting some clever tongue twisters aside, I also remember how easy it was for my kin folk to HEAR something (or read something, like “money is the root of all evil”) and completely not jive with the context of what was SAID or written.

    In Heather’s case, she didn’t say journalism IS “fair, balanced, and unbiased” (even though, some is), she said it’s “supposed to be.” And traditionally, that’s what journalism is “supposed to be,” although, as she and you both said, it rarely is.

    You see, you may be misinterpreting the journalistic sense of “fair and balanced.” Fox TV news used that as a slogan for a reason… because even though they’re anything BUT fair and balanced, it was meant to represent the basic tenets of true-blue journalism. And, guess what… “fair and balanced” MEANS “unbiased” in the journalistic sense. So they all three go together like ticks on a hound dog… or peas in a pod. Okay, I don’t remember ALL the southern lingo! 😉

    To put it in a nutshell, you can’t be unbiased without fairness (after all, fairness means reporting what you SEE, without any prejudice, and being impartial to what you’re about to discover — i.e. being unbiased); and you can’t be unbiased without balance (i.e. you can’t quote the sheriff saying that Billy Bob is meaner than a junkyard dog without getting Billy Bob’s take on that jab).

  2. Sorry, but I can’t read your red text on its dark blue background. Am I alone with this comment?

    [Heather’s REPLY]:

    Yes, David, because the background for the text is WHITE and the text is BLACK.

    It sounds like your page isn’t fully loading, i.e. you’re getting the border color, but the text background isn’t filling in properly on top (and you’re looking at the headline, which is red).

    That could be due to a slow connection, OR you might want to update your browser. Firefox and IE both display properly if you have the latest version.

  3. LWL is a very fair and honest Courtroom! King Solomon would be proud! IMO, anyone that doesn’t see your fairness (AKA “all men are created equal”), are just using their God given freedom of divisiveness (stubbornness).

    The old foundation of this world was the “freedom” of division. We have been exercising that freedom for millennia. Now the Cosmic Clock has been turning and there’s a new foundation replacing the old one. It is Union, Oneness, non-duality. We are all involved in the aligning of the Foundation of all truth that God is One and we are embraced in that Oneness. Even words cannot describe the Truth that we are all God (or at least a Grand Part of God). A window is opening and will remain open till it starts to close on Dec. 21st, 2012 (theory). By then, the faith and trust in this Great Joining will transform to Absolute Certainty. Certain that we have nothing to fear because, as we join, we will gain the certainty of God’s greatest gift that we have temporarily thrown away. The Knowingness that we are Eternal and Indestructible just like God Herself.

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