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News, Sugar, or Judgment

By Lisa Meadows Garfield

My business mentor recently extended a challenge to my coaching group. We were to choose one of these options, to focus on for one month:  1) No news, 2) No sugar, or 3) No judging.

Which would you choose?

The first option was not much of a challenge for me, since I long ago noticed that I cannot tolerate much in the way of world news. It is generally either so negative or so insipid that it throws my entire day into turmoil and I lose purpose and productivity. So because I already avoid the daily news (except for the major headlines, so I won’t be too out of touch) I didn’t choose Option #1.

I didn’t choose Option #2 either, because I didn’t want to right now. I have previously gone long periods without eating sugar and they are periods of greater health and vitality, both physically and emotionally. But it felt like too much of a challenge for me right now; I couldn’t drum up the necessary feeling of determination and commitment to say Yes.  I do what I say I’ll do, so I know not to say I’ll do something if I know there’s a high chance I won’t follow through. I did move Option #2 higher on my list of things to do soon. But not now.

That left Option #3: no judging. When I heard him say it, my spirit immediately responded, “Yes, that’s the challenge for me right now.” I grew up with a wonderful, deeply Christian mother, but the one annoying trait she had was a propensity to judge others, usually strangers, for ridiculous things, like wearing curlers out of the house or being overweight. Even as a young child, I thought, “She doesn’t know that person at all; how can she say mean things about them?” Very early on, I determined NOT to be like that when I was grown.

And I have kept that determination, working hard to be open to people without judging. As I mature, though, I am anguished to notice that my judgments have simply taken a different form, a different route to my mind — gone underground, unconscious, so that I don’t notice my thinking as judgmental, even when it actually is. I have a habit, for instance, of quickly saying to myself something positive that I notice about a person. I used to think that was noble of me, because I did make true statements, always to myself and often to the person; what I noticed I really did like. But it began to dawn on me that this “good” habit of mine was a reactive one; I did it to counteract an even quicker negative judgment I made of someone. So I was still judging, in both negative and positive ways. I had become so good at it that it was instinctive and immediate.

This was obviously disheartening. Now I can argue as well as you can that it’s our human nature to make quick judgments of each other, that it’s built into us as a safety precaution, to alert us to truly dangerous people. I even believe the argument. But I REALLY want to see my brothers and sisters the way our Heavenly Parents see them, the way our Savior sees them, with all their goodness and pain and worthiness in spite of bad choices, whether it be hair curlers in public or adultery. I want to see people spirit to spirit and leave all the judgment to God.

I am far from that ideal. But I’ve noticed already, as I tackle this challenge this month, that I can shift my thinking immediately with just the words: no judging. My mentor promised it would be a “freeing” experience to suspend judgment, and that has been true for me. As soon as I say the words, my judgmental thoughts flee and I am left unburdened and smiling — free at last.

Which option would you choose — no news, no sugar, or no judging? Are you judgmental? How do you deal with that?

About Lisa Meadows Garfield

Lisa Meadows Garfield is an award-winning poet and author of “For Love of a Child: Stories of Adoption.“ An avid traveler, she is generally away from her homebase in Vancouver, Washington 9 months of the year, exploring the wide, wonderful world. Mother of 6 and Nonnie to 11, Lisa loves sunshine, words, good friends, and especially, Jesus.

5 thoughts on “News, Sugar, or Judgment”

  1. No sugar. I run zillions of miles each week, sacrificing my sleep and family time, so I can feed the sugar beast. I feel like I judge almost unconsciously, so this month of craziness and stress might not be the time to focus on it. And I should be more in touch with world events, not less.

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  2. I love this. I, like you, avoid most news these days, but I could definitely use less sugar and less judgement in my life. I'm going to tackle the latter one first since it's Christmastime and I really love how everything is dipped in chocolate. January will be a great month to get rid of the sugar. Thank you for this post. Segullah is always so insightful and positive.

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  3. I avoid the news as much as possible because I honestly believe that it is only out there to frighten us and make us feel helpless and to profit the companies that sell this news, be it broadcast or newspaper.
    I have never even considered giving up sugar. Why would I give up something that I enjoy? My weight is below normal, my dental hygiene is rabid, I feel great and exercise daily. The idea that I could not enjoy a cup of hot chocolate, a piece of pie, or a cupcake is for me, too sad to contemplate. Especially at the season where many people actually allow themselves some small enjoyment…why pile on the guilt about this?
    However, judging is another matter totally. It belongs with the two things that bother me about myself which are selfishness and pride. It is something I think about often and try to weed out of my personality, not always successfully.
    An interesting post, and of course, to each their own. But in my opinion, learning not to judge, may be the eternal choice.

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  4. I hope to temper all of them. It's tricky though because each one is a social thing. But judgement is the most difficult and the one I work hardest to resist. I wish I were better.

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  5. I love the addition of the word righteously to the admonition not to judge. Alma 41:14 "…see that you are merciful unto your brethren; deal justly, judge righteously, and do good continually; and if ye do all these things then shall ye receive your reward."
    We are expected to use discernment and make clear distinctions about those around us. But this is just semantics and the gist of the admonition not to judge is to not to withhold love toward someone due to who they are. I know that I can do that…I will pay more attention to how I'm doing on that. I've given up sugar many times. I try to limit it, but don't eliminate it right now. And I read headlines to keep informed but wouldn't mind giving that up!

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