How we meet each moment of life determines our well-being. But when we are caught in judging, comparing, or fixing, our worldview contracts and we have fewer options for responding to the present moment.
Identifying how we relate to the world, whether we tend to judge, compare, or fix, will help free us from our compulsive behaviors, which cause us, and others, suffering.
Of these three—judging, comparing, and fixing—which do you tend to do most often?
Judging types have very strong opinions about themselves and the world around them, about what’s wrong and right, and how it should be. You might be very judgmental of yourself but not of the world or vice versa. It’s quite common for the voice of judgment in your head to not be your own, but someone’s from your past, like a parent or teacher. Sometimes, this voice of judgment doesn’t even reflect your current values.
Comparing types continually measure themselves against others—“I’m not as fit as so-and-so”—or how they used to be—“I used to be able to run a marathon, but now I can’t.”
Fixing types notice what needs to be fixed (but not in a judgmental way) and then want to fix it. They derive reassurance from thinking, “I can fix this.” Sometimes they will, although unasked, try to fix others or situations, which, depending on the circumstances, can be obtrusive.
Most of us have characteristics of all three types, but we tend to have a predilection toward one in particular, and then a strong second. Knowing your typology gives you an important tool for skillfully addressing many of life’s challenges. For example, when dealing with a difficult co-worker, you might first notice your orientation. Are you judging, comparing, or fixing? Then instead of reacting to the situation from this mind state, you might pause and reflect, “This moment is like this,” or “Working with this person is like this.” Only then would you decide what action or words are appropriate. Many times the appropriate thing is to do nothing. Continually judging a co-worker will exhaust you and make you less effective in your work; comparing yourself to that person can cause tension and self-loathing; and trying to fix someone who’s not available to be fixed—a colleague or boss—is dangerous!
Beware of saying to yourself, “I’m never going to judge, compare, or fix again.” Remember the two wings of the dharma: wisdom and compassion. It takes both wings for the dharma to fly. The idea is to meet the moment mindfully, decide what action, if any, is skillful, and to have compassion. Otherwise, others may start to notice the tension that judging, comparing, or fixing can create—they will feel your non-acceptance. It doesn’t mean you need to approve of how they are, but you can accept that “this is the way this person is.” As acceptance grows, so does a sense of well-being.
Often in life, you cannot control the situation, but you can control your own behavior. By knowing your typology and making appropriate adjustments to your reactions, you can hopefully prevent adding more suffering to your life and maybe to the world.
For Your Reflection:
- This week, observe how often you judge yourself or another.
- How often do you compare yourself to another?
- How often are you driven to fix a situation rather than respond from wisdom and compassion?
- In your meditation practice, connect to the felt sense of judging, comparing, or fixing. Investigate what these mind states feel like and how they show up in your body. Support your exploration with loving kindness and compassion. By doing this practice, you are breaking yourself of the mental habit of judging, comparing, or fixing in daily life.