Blast From The Past – Instinct Or Judgment?

It’s so hard to not cross that fine line between instinct and judgment. Between making a smart decision because of a gut feeling and labeling someone because of an idea we have… I really try not to judge, I try to keep an open mind. Try to give people a chance to make me see who they are.

I’m no saint. I’m only human and it happens. I make assumptions and then make a decision based on them. You could also call this judging. This year is almost over and I guess I’m in my usual state of reflecting and trying to figure out how I can make myself a better person. I don’t want to fall back into being too polite to listen to my gut feelings but I also don’t want to allow my assumptions to take over. It’s about finding that balance… and hopefully I will 😉

The thoughts about instinct vs judging has kept me busy for a while now, as you can tell when you keep reading my Blast From The Past. I guess it’s a good thing. It means that I try to stay aware of which is which and keep control over it…

 

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How do we follow our instincts without judging? This was my question to Danny when commenting on a fantastic post of his. I would love to hear your five cents on this question but before we get there let me explain myself a little bit more.

I had a busy weekend last weekend. On my way back from work I shared my train ride with a college of mine for a while and was actually really happy to have a male companion when a guy hopped on the train right after we did. It was just the way he looked. The guy found a seat, on the right side of us, in the row behind us.

Shortly after the train left the station a woman entered the wagon. She seemed a bit off and although clean and okay dressed you could make out that she must have her issues (and there is the second judgmental thought I had on that short train ride). Anyway. She approached the guy who was sitting behind us. I couldn’t really hear what she was asking but I could see our of the corner of my eyes that he was gently shaking his head and apologizing. She then approached us and asked for change. I had no cash on me and told her so and watched her make her way through the rest of the wagon, asking one after the other with no success.

While looking around I realized that the guy I judged in the very beginning was reading a Hemingway book. Just a little observation.

Anyway. A little bit later the woman comes back into our wagon and again approaches passenger after passenger until she reached us. This time she did not simply ask for chash but “for change so I can buy formula for my step son who is starving and crying his heart out”. I still had no cash on my but I had a sandwich on me that I bought before taking the train. I told her again that I don’t have cash and asked her if she is hungry. She started telling me the story about the baby and the formula again. I sort of interrupted her by saying that I can’t help her as I have no cash but that I would be happy to give her my sandwich and handed it to her. She stopped in the middle of her sentence took the sandwich and said thank you. She started eating and disappeared.

My college just looked at me. It was the guy who I’d judged before who suddenly said to me how nice it was of me to offer her something to eat. He then told me that he takes this train often and that she would frequently be on it too, asking for change. He also told me that she is a regular at the local drug addiction help center.

You might be wondering where I’m going with this long intro. Honestly I don’t really know yet either as I still try to figure out the question I posed in the beginning of this post. How do we follow our instincts without judging?

I judged. I judged the guy who did look as if he was a drug addict. I judged the woman who clearly had issues. I believe I judged because my instincts told me to be careful. It turned out to be all good. But sometimes situations like this don’t end peacefully. So how do we deal with this fine line between following our instincts and not becoming judgmental? I feel I’m the most judgmental with people I get a bad feeling from. When I think they are not honest. When I have the strong feeling that they have an agenda.

I don’t want to be judgmental but I want to be safe. In many ways. I want to be safe in the sense of not getting physically hurt. I want to be safe in the sense of not being taken advantage of. So I need to make a judgment call. I need to make a decision about trusting someone or not although I have no information about this person and can’t fall back on anything to make this decision.

I guess the question will always be if we judge because we are jealous or bitter or if we judge because it’s about “surviving”. One is about labeling someone or something while the other one is about making sure we don’t get hurt, so more about following our instincts and actually listening to them.

A fine line, that, as it seems, can be crossed easily…

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6 thoughts on “Blast From The Past – Instinct Or Judgment?

  1. I don’t think we judge because we are jealous or bitter. I am talking about myself 😊 I am not sure what exactly you mean by ‘surviving’. I try my best not to judge people, who am I to judge others? Thank you for this very interesting post. Regards.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting topic, Sandra. I do also my best no to be judgmental and it is not always easy. I can easily follow you in your situation and I think, that we need to listen to our gut feelings.
    When I was new in this area, where I live now and did visit the city close to, I met lots of people, who asked for money and/or food outside the big shops. I found it very disturbing, because some of them was aggressive in their asking and followed you a way to get something. I later learning about the different kind of people, who were asking. There are many gipsy’s in the area here and they sent pregnant young women out for begging, which gave them food enough. Later I met same people driving in big Mercedes and they were dressed in beautiful clothe. When they were begging, they had old clothe on. These people I didn’t give anything, because it felt very wrong to me.
    We do also have homeless people here, like in all other places. There are also different kind of homeless people, I found out.
    Many of these have a dog or two and in the beginning, I felt with them, but I didn’t know, if they were real homeless or had an addiction problem. So I bought them food the the dog and sometimes food for them too. After having lived here in more than 3 years, I have found out, who is real homeless and who is homeless because of addictions.
    Now I support the real homeless with money, when I’m able to, not much, because I’m not rich either.
    I don’t wish to support addictions, so these people do still get food either for their dog or themselves. All of the homeless do much to take good care of their dogs here, as I see them.
    So yes, I do understand, what you mean and I don’t want to be cheated either, so I use my time to find out, who is really in need and do my best to support them, when I can.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gut instincts are built in for a reason and shouldn’t be ignored. I believe we are ususally correct when listening to these instincts but it doesn’t mean we need to be hyper-reactive in all situations. Just being aware, as you were, is good practice. Do you think you did right by giving her your sandwich? Not judging, just asking how you felt after…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Spot on. I don’t really know if I did the right thing. I’m still torn and sometimes I wonder if I would do it again. Right afterwards I felt I did a good thing but was also wondering if she was really hungry or just greedy. I don’t know. I bought food for a homeless person a little while back. He was asking for change and I asked him if he is hungry. He said yes and so I got him pizza at a fast food place. He looked super happy. Then my gut feeling was content and stayed that way. So I guess he really needed something to eat more than anything (he def looked that way).

      Like

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