Friday, July 20, 2012

Walking the thin line between Being Opinionated and Being Judgemental

For past two days, I have been sort of querying with my fellow colleagues on this topic. It is fun to know that we have so much different opinions about the same topic...But what struck me the most in this case, though they may be categorized differently, all the three's thought process were alike on this topic. Co-incidence? Probably because I spoke to only three of them, but I had fun as their expression and ability to project it forward was amazing.

Human thinking and various personalities traits always intrigue me to know more. So I chose carefully three different people who come from different backgrounds but all three are my fellow colleagues. Also with this discussion I got to know a bit more about the individual.

So I started with first basic question: What do you mean by being opinionated and being judgmental? Is it same or different?

The answer for second question was crystal clear, that they are two different aspects. For all three, it is that opinions are an immediate or spontaneous thought which comes to the mind, when they encounter or come across something/someone/some place. It is on a general level. For one person it was like Opinion means to express/state our feelings in a given circumstance.
              Whereas being judgmental is different. To judge means having spent a more longer period of time for a permanent type of opinion. It requires more thought process, longer span of time to have a judgement/conclusion on a characteristics, morale, attribute of certain person. For one colleague, being judgmental is more specific to any behavioral or characteristic attributes. 

My next question was: In our fast paced life and lack of time for rational thinking, are these two terms used interchangeably? Do we always know if we are being opinionated or being judgmental? Do we always recognize the difference?

Again the answer was unanimous. We do use it interchangeably. there is not even a single second where our mind is calm, quite or not thinking. We form opinions each and every second in our minds. Say for example, we see a person for first time, we have certain thought about him at-least for a split second, though it can be wrong, or we choose not to settle that in our minds. Our mind always keeps on thinking and our thinking are ultimately driven by our opinions on it. 

A person in normal state of mind, may not always be able to identify the difference between judgement or opinion.

Immediately I had this question: So can a person be both at same time or are they mutually exclusive that if one is there another cannot be there?

Surprised to hear, that we are both opinionated and judgemental. but we choose to act upon it as situation comes. We may not use both together always but we are born that way. But it is up-to an individual to be an highly opinionated person or a judgmental person. As humans, we always have opinions but we can always stop from being judgmental.

So I asked: Is it wrong to be opinionated or to be judgmental? And in person, what are they- highly opinionated or highly judgmental?

For first time, I saw a difference. The difference was one admitted to be judgemental, which meant that he gave space and understood a person well before he can form a lasting opinion; second said she is opinionated.She thinks that she is no-one to form a judgement about anyone. It is wrong to do so. last person said, that due to his meditation and spiritual rigor he has trained his mind, not to be either. He also said that in true sense, we cannot judge or have any opinion correctly, most of the times we may go wrong.

Also I read somewhere that having less or no opinions is quite frustrating for others who are in their company. For example; one goes to a restaurant and everyone has ordered around the table, and the person who has no opinion is still thinking of what to do. It irritates others who are in the company. They function in same way in their personal lives as well where they cannot stand up for anything. 

I quoted an example to understand the difference even better: For example: I see a person for first time and immediately I have certain thought in my mind. Is that our opinion or judgement call? On what basis do we have that immediate thought about someone,even if we don't know about them?

Here I got mixed ideas, where all the three said that it is our opinion which firstly comes to our mind. Kind of immediate reaction. But their explanations differed. In two gentlemen case, they said our opinions are based on our previous experience and learning. Over a period of time,we would have cultivated a sense of understanding to form an opinion.
For the lady, she said that if we have thoughts about a person who is not known to us, that is because our own aura and their aura is matching at that point of time. We do not form opinions on each and everything we see through our eyes. Something clicks and we have a thought in our mind about the person. Without even knowing, there are vibes which human mind releases, which pulls certain attention. There is a cosmic connection to what we feel at that very instance.

So I checked if these two words help mould up our individual characters?Are they in anyway an influencing or contributing factor to shape our characters?

Again,everyone agreed to it. It definitely shapes up our character and makes us what we are. It is up-to a person on how much he uses his judgement or opinions to handle or tackle a situation.But definitely because our learning,emotion, gut feelings are all contributing factors to shape our character.

After our dinner break,my discussion continued.............

I questioned: Say we feel strongly about something and we know nothing can shake our opinion/judgement about it; is it wrong to stick to it.Even if some other person think it is rude, hurtful or term it as adamant?

Here I had varied answers. One answered that it is not being judgmental or sticking to a opinion which needs to be is right when we are flexible n open to thoughts;in life each experience gives us learning; when we are only open. But at times we need to stand for somethings also..all in all there  is no fixed path

Another one answered even if we feel strongly about something, we can always step back from our opinion or judgement... just to have a better learning/experience/understanding... being strongly opinionated or judgmental even if its accurate will not help and that is why there are clashes, but again it depends upon each others weakness, if both have certain weaknesses both are bound to come to certain conclusions and carry on.But if both are not ready to give up then they get separated.

The lady said that when we feel strongly about something, it is generally the right opinion which our mind would have registered. Now knowing that these factors mould our character; if we don't stick to it; we loose our originality. It means we ourselves are not clear on that feeling and hence, we give a vibe where negative or other person's thoughts can seep into us, making us more confused. But it is very difficult to follow what our mind says all the time. In true worldly sense, such people are not appreciated and are always judged by others. But if you want a person to know or understand your true original self, you should stick to your values and strong feelings. If we loose our originality,we loose our self.

When I asked this specific question, all the three thought flow turned into one single direction. Question was: Is there a way or habit which we can cultivate to stop from being judgmental or opinionated?

And everyone's' thought process fine lined to spirituality. they all agreed and said that through meditation, having good thoughts, being in company of wise people, we always stay or pick up good thoughts and habits. this helps us in slowing down our highly strong opinions or judgement calls and gives us a chance to see things clearly from all angle.

Lady suggested simple things for beginners. she said out of 24 hours, we individuals don't even dedicate 5-10 minutes of time for ourselves. we always are on the move, running errands and thinking about others than us. So if someone really wants to help themselves, it is going to be tough initially but not impossible.

Simple things like dedicating your thoughts for minimum 5 minutes on happenings of the day. How you behaved or handled a situation, if there was a better way to do so, etc etc. 
One might be amazed that initially we cannot do that also as we are occupied with so many other thoughts.

Next thing is, to start meditating, initially for 5 minutes. we will be surprised we cannot do that. Our mind works like a factory which emits thoughts every single second. To block your mind and sit idle, is a very herculean task which can be done with practice and rigor.

Once you get up from meditation, you immediately ask answers to those questions which need decisions. the positive energy which would have built up after meditation, helps us seeks answers to all our questions.

My final question to my colleague was: Is it okay to have opinions and suppress it or is it wise to not have it at all?

He answered with this peal of wisdom which he sends us all at beginning of the day. I found my answer reading it and hope you too find your answer in it. It goes like this


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