Then it began, the self-criticizing that our personalities throw upon us.
“Really? They don’t know me. Who do they think they are! They have no idea how hard I work. They don’t know how much I am trying to get done before my family arrives. Who do they think they are to judge me!”
Then the next layer of self-criticizing set in.
“What do you mean don’t buy tea. Should I grow my own bananas too? And milk my own cow?”
Seriously, I beat myself up over it. I even lost sleep.
The truth is that I had a lot to get done. And today is the day that my family arrives. Am I ready? Yes. Do I still have time to make tea? Yes, I actually do. But I won’t, because I bought premade tea, already sweetened. Every time I see that jug of tea, I remember the comments I heard that day, and I grapple with whether or not to criticize myself some more.
When we judge others, we do it from our own perspective based on our upbringing and years of experiences. But the Bible teaches Christians to not judge others based on appearance. Instead, we are supposed to judge righteously. (John 7:24) It makes for a more peaceful, internal existence when we can let go of judging others and their judgments on us.
But that’s only part of the point.
I certainly could have made tea, and I could have saved some money making it myself. But I had too much to do, and our refrigerator is too small, and I just didn’t have the energy to make tea along with everything else. I justified myself internally.
Why did I react this way? Partly because of how I was brought up. Partly because I need to improve how I examine myself. To determine how and why I react to situations.
When we examine and test ourselves, we learn how to react less. And we become less vulnerable to the adversary's tricks that trip us up.
2 Corinthians 13:5 says, "Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? Unless indeed you fail to meet the test!"
Without self-examination, we leave ourselves wide open to anything. Learn to test yourself throughout the day, from situation to situation, and from moment to moment, to see how you react. Use your conscience to help you learn how to do this so that you can appreciate each moment that our Creator and His Son have given to us.
James 1:23-25 says, “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
Don't just bypass important occurrences that can teach you more about yourself. Do what the Bible teaches and examine yourself.
A treasure of an answer about how to do it is to become more self aware. See yourself more clearly. Develop your own personal skill to watch yourself regularly, to observe what you say, what you do, and how you react in all sorts of situations.
Nourish the idea of using this technique so that you can remove the filters that you have built up over time. Those filters are just masks on reality, which you have applied to protect yourself from various types of judgments and situations. When you remove those self-imposed filters, you experience more of the reality that truly exists around you.
Practice, practice, practice.
- Pay attention to your thoughts. Practice this action in easy situations so that you can apply it in difficult situations also. When someone gets on your case about something, or seemingly judges you without justification, you can react objectively. It's a healthy approach to life. You’ll be happier! (Romans 12:1-3)
- Pay attention to your words. As the Bible says, rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing! Jesus Christ’s people must be wise. (Proverbs 12:18)
- Watch out for your own verbal reactions. When you keep your tongue, you stay out of trouble. (Proverbs 21:23, Ephesians 4:29, James 3:2-10)
- Soften your heart, guard it, and give a soft answer – even to yourself. There's enough beating up of others in this world. (Proverbs 15:1)
These are just a few ideas to help you develop your own internal observer so that you can watch yourself, be more Christ-like, and have a healthier demeanor. When you practice these ideas, and others that you can research for yourself, you increase the vitality of your own existence, which brings more joy and gratitude into your life!