How to Stop Judging People & Accept Others As They Are

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Today’s podcast has been edited and adapted from “Success Through Thought Habit” by Benjamin Johnson, published in 1908.

When we realize that to attain even a partial control over our own thoughts is a wonderful achievement (while complete self-mastery borders on the miraculous), the absurdity of trying to regulate the behavior of others is made so plain that no one can evade admitting it.

Action is the manifestation of thought. Imagination then may be said to be pictured thought, while personality is the materialization of Imagination. The more active the imagination, the more ingenuity is required to guide it into constructive paths and away from those that lead to criticism and condemnation of others whose conduct does not happen to meet with our approval, or whose example we fear may not be quite what it should be for somebody else.

Nervous people are particularly prone to imagine the wrong things, and the moment their duties are finished and they lie down at night, they commence to magnify and elaborate on the disagreeable events of the day, living over every trying moment, knowing that things will turn out even worse tomorrow, and feeling that they are showing a conscientious regard for their family, their household, or their business by this process which they term “thinking things over.”

Insulted when told they are not even managing their own lives, they keep resolutely at their task of at least mentally managing everyone else, by suggesting to them what horrible things may happen and by magnifying every fault they have ever observed. They fairly think negative conditions into existence and often act as a barrier to the progress of those associated with them, because of the forceful manner with which they insist upon regulating not only the habits but the thoughts of all those with whom they associate.

Not until such people learn that it will take all of the energy and ability they possess to manage their own lives will they learn to stop putting their hands on others and pushing them where they see fit to have them go.

A well-known actress who had by the exercise of her own will cured herself of a drug habit told me that the work of controlling her own thought-world was the hardest work she had ever done, while to learn the lesson of not interfering with other people’s lives was almost as difficult.

Finally one night, she made up her mind to stop fussing about others and try perfecting herself instead, resolving never to give any advice or suggestions unless she was requested to do so, and when sending out thoughts to send only those that were filled with courage and faith and confidence. Each night she imagined herself bathed in the golden light of Love as she floated on the current of Harmony, and this practice she claimed meant more to her than any tonic or drug ever invented.

As a consequence, in one year, she looked ten years younger and was more magnetic, while her success was phenomenal. All who are now brought into contact with her realize that in some way she is possessed of something extraordinary, and so grateful is she for her own uplifting transformation that she graciously uses her time to help anyone who seems to need aid in their manner of thinking.

Those who allow tramp thoughts to come swarming into their brain just because they are too indolent or too weary to resist them, should be awakened to the harm these visitors may do. Every image of disease, poverty, lack, unhappiness, anger, or grief that is allowed to remain for any time at all commences tele- graphing its presence to the other atoms in the body. Soon a correspondence is established that will surely manifest itself in some physical or mental disturbance.

That is why it is so imperative that every seeking soul be impressed with the importance of practicing the right thought, just as religiously as one would practice a new piece of music, until it finally becomes an automatic affair to think as one should, no matter what may happen — an inharmonious thought then won’t dare to put in an appearance.

Conscious imaging is a most wonderful assistant in the work of Thought Building. By this, I mean the constant filling of the mind with the image of what we desire, and living (no matter what the condition may seem to be) in a state of oneness with our desires.

Are we disappointed in someone? Or have we been led into an argument that has resulted in a misunderstanding, or perhaps a rupture of our relations? We shall spend no time in recriminations, regrets, or sorrows; neither will we think of the other person as wrong — for they simply have expressed themselves as they saw the subject.

Instead, we shall in thinking of that person, see with them their best qualities and finest attributes, remembering always that truth will always be manifested in due time. Blaming others for being as they are, for not seeing things as we do, liking the things that we like, and having our moods instead of their own, is so utterly inconsistent with common-sense, that one wonders how anyone can do it.

Yet, it is, indeed, rare that two or more people can engage in conversation without thinking something like “Why on earth has Jane married that man, when she could have done so much better?” “Why does Michael insist on living beyond his income and spending so much money on cars,” or “What can Tammy be thinking by allowing her daughter to date that boy.” Always the mind seems to wander to what is wrong, while little time is spent on the many things that are right.

Few people have any philosophy when the faults of their friends or their immediate family are concerned, and they spend as a consequence, a great deal of their energy and much of their time, explaining these very evident errors to all who will listen.

Is John thoughtless? He is told on every occasion how remiss he is until finally he decides to slide through life, with a half deprecating grin as he explains: “I really can’t think of things, you know, though I would be glad to do them if someone suggested them to me.” Is Katherine worn and tired? She is told in so many words that she looks fretful and old, and the good work is kept up until she feels older than she looks and acts sicker than she is. So, these well-meaning but unthinking souls keep insisting on the negative phases of life (criticizing, condemning, excusing, and emphasizing), none of the time realizing that by this habit of constant nagging they are helping to make the other person’s thought habit more destructive than ever.

To succeed in life, one must have a definite aim. To rise above the masses one must have high aspirations. So to really help or improve our friends, associates, or family, let us steadily look for their good qualities, dwell upon them, mention them frequently, and then when the time seems ripe for mentioning the seeming errors, let us be able to hold our tongue and think truthfully, “I have seen so much improvement in other areas, that I am sure they are growing better and stronger every day.”

In all of the work in the human gardens, we must ever bear in mind that the gardeners who concentrate their entire attention on getting rid of weeds would have no time to plant the good seed or to take care of the desirable crops. And in our endeavors, let us encourage the growth of the good, by watering it with human kindness and sympathetic understanding, removing the weeds in the manner that seems least conspicuous, and seeing always the ideal toward which we are striving rather than the material we are endeavoring to develop.

Whenever you feel compelled to offer a piece of advice, remember that it should be given with the thought that it will help the other person grow a better consciousness, not with the feeling that it will make them see where they have been entirely wrong.

Occasionally, we find people so well trained that they never express blame. No, indeed, they would not be so vulgar. They just feel it and think it and keep it corked up inside, never dreaming that every act and every look is showing their state of mind just as well as any words they might use and is making others quite as uncomfortable.

A philosopher, who had mastered many of life’s problems and was noted for his poise, was one day asked why he paid no attention to either flattery or ridicule. “Because,” he answered, “a person can neither be praised nor insulted. I know what I am, and do not allow the opinion of others to affect me.”

When asked how he managed to get so much good out of life, and to find so many fine qualities in others, he said: “I have been trained since early youth to look upon human beings as I would on the animals in the forest. Each may be perfect of its kind though utterly unlike some other animal. Consequently, I do not expect the hare to have the courage of the lion, or the fox to be like the deer, or the bear to be as the marmoset. In the farm yards, I know the cow gives milk and is useful for that reason. The oxen have great strength and do their share by hauling heavy loads, while the horses carry us about in comfort. So among my friends I see each has their sphere of usefulness and each is developing according to their capabilities and not according to what I might think or advise, and I am content.”

In considering the habits of my own friends, I neither praise nor condemn, for I do not know what their needs may be, so I copy the guide of a wiser man than I, who wrote these words nearly two thousand years ago: “Does a person bathe quickly? Do not say they bathed poorly, but that they bathed quickly. Does someone drink many glasses of wine? Do not say they drink excessively, but that they drink many glasses. For, unless you perfectly understand the principle from which anyone acts, how do you know whether they are acting wrong?”

By heeding the advice of these wise men, we may many of us be saved of errors if not regret, while we may learn that “every day proves to each soul it is either a little stronger or a little weaker, a little nobler or more inclined to notice petty actions, a little happier or more discontented, more of a tonic to others or more depressing than she was the day before.”

People with vivid imaginations often find their thought-world filled with the wrong images and are perplexed to tell from where they came. Unless they have formed the habit of self-analysis they may even declare they “can’t help feeling a certain way.” Thus one learns the necessity for watchfulness in the recognition of destructive thoughts and energy in eliminating them at once.

To absolutely avoid this condition, it is merely necessary to maintain a feeling of Oneness with the Universal Spirit. When one fails to maintain this connection, it is necessary to recognize that every thought of depression, worry, dread, lack, poverty, or unhappiness are destructive and should be replaced at once by thoughts of peace, power, harmony, love, courage and abundance.

Constant imaging of good is of great assistance in building the right thought-habits. Blame unexpressed is quite as destructive as when expressed, for it corrodes and destroys. Few people develop themselves beyond the point where they do not occasionally succumb to the influence of destructive thoughts.

It is said not one person in one hundred thousand has attained even a partial control over their own mind and emotions. Realizing this truth, we can at once see the futility of attempting to control others and the senselessness of judging them harshly.

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