A preoccupation of mine during my time in therapy was the concept of judgement. I teetered on self-loathing when I found myself thinking critical thoughts of other people. I expected to train myself into neutrality. Am I, are humans, capable of being nonjudgmental?
Here’s sage Margaret Atwood on the matter, albeit in terms of writers and their characters:
Value judgments on the characters or the outcome need not be made by the writer, at least not in any overt fashion. It was Chekhov who said famously, and not quite truthfully, that he never judged his characters, and you will find many a critical review that tacitly endorses this sort of restraint. But the reader will judge the characters, because the reader will interpret. We all interpret, every day — we must interpret, not only language, but a whole environment in which this means that — “little green man” means cross the street, “little red man” means don’t — and if we didn’t interpret, we’d be dead. Language is not morally neutral because the human brain is not neutral in its desires. Neither is the dog brain. Neither is the bird brain: crows hate owls. We like some things and dislike others, we approve of some things and disapprove of others. Such is the nature of being an organism.
I’ve come to believe that acceptance of the things of which we disapprove is the key. If I’m “writing about the characters” in my life (mentally) then the language with which I “describe” them can be neutralized, although the scale of my initial, personal, perhaps deeper “description” may teeter, unbalanced, in a certain direction.
“‘I’m verbally incontinent — anything just pours out of me,’ she said. ‘My father’s that way. He doesn’t worry about it. My mother does. I got both. I say just the worst things the English language is capable of, and then later on I lie awake at night thinking, Oh, Tricia, you’ve done it again.’”
“‘I blush if I see people kissing in a movie,’ she said. ‘There are certain cusses I can’t say. It’s a private joke: I’m a puritan. I was a child bride. There’s this prim, prudish part of me, and in order to get past that, I just have to push all the way.’”
Somewhere Out There: Joel’s lake Wisconsin bonfire at Dekorrah/my Mississippi bonfire at Dickeyville