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What Is A Value Judgment?

"All human suffering is an experience based on value judgements of what is good and bad."

A judgment is labeling some thing, person, or event as good or bad, based on your belief system. Lets take a look at the concepts of good and bad.

Does anything carry with it a value of good or bad, independent of human evaluation? Are good and bad inherent qualities or human assessments? Is any event, person, thing, circumstance inherently (exists as a permanent condition) good or bad? Or are they labels we use to define what we want and don't want?

How does Webster define "good?"

good (gud) adj. serving it's purpose well || having desired qualities || virtuous, kind, well-behaved, agreeable, pleasant, beneficial, worthwhile, profitable, efficient, competent, capable, safe, and valid.

The key phrase in that definition is "having desired qualities." We define good as being something we want. And look at the words used to define good. Are they not what we desire? For example, we want our children to be well behaved .We want our lives to be easy, to be around people who are pleasant and kind. We want what we do to be worthwhile, efficient, and hopefully, profitable. We want to feel safe, etc.

What about "bad?"

bad (bæd) wicked, evil || defective, inadequate || not prosperous || unwelcome || distressing, disagreeable, upset, harmful, and unskilled.

Again, look at the words. Aren't they simply defining what we don't want as "bad"? We don't want items that are defective. We don't want a corrupt government. We don't want to be "poor". ....on and on...you get the idea. Good = Want. Bad = Don't Want

"What disturbs people's minds is not events, but their judgments on events."

- Epictetus, 100 A.D


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If good and bad were inherent qualities (true regardless of our assessments), then they would remain the same throughout time. History has shown this to not be true. Through out lineage, what we've called good and bad has changed.

So if "good and bad" are assessments, then you are free to re-evaluate those assessments. When you look at situations (and yourself) in terms of desires, and not as value judgments, you remove the negative connotations associated with "good and bad". The examination of the situation becomes less volatile and hostile. You can simply make an observation, notice what you want or don't want, and respond according to those desires.

Observation And Value Judgments

Some people say we need judgments to be able to live in this world. "How could I make decisions if I didn't judge? Isn't that how we make decisions?" Let's make a distinction between a value judgment and an observation.

In an observation we see, hear, feel what is happening around us. We then state what we see. When we're judging something, we go one step further in the process of observation and add in a subjective evaluation. We label the event as either good, or bad. THAT, is the value judgment. You're not removing the decision making process, you're simply replacing "good and bad" with "I want, I don't want."

How does this apply to accepting yourself? Well, you do the same thing to yourself. You first make an observation about yourself, ("I am fat") then decide if it's a good or bad thing to be ("It's bad to be fat"). When we judge something about ourselves as "bad", it becomes impossible for you to accept (be okay with) that part of yourself. BUT, it is possible to accept (be okay with) your weight and still know you WANT to be thinner. Make sense?

"Judgment stands as an obstacle to self-love.
When you form judgments about another person,
for instance, "this person looks like a lazy person,
or a failure, or has terrible clothes," you create
a message to your subconscious that the world
is a place where you had better act in certain
ways if you want to be accepted...that you are
only going to accept yourself under certain
conditions. This leads to an inner dialogue of
self-criticism."

- Orin

What if you were to drop your value judgments and simply saw "what is" then identified what you wanted and why? It could totally transform your experience. What are the ramifications of doing so? Perhaps you would find a well of love for yourself and others that you never knew existed. Perhaps you'd notice the less you judge yourself, the less you'll judge others. And maybe, just maybe, the experience of acceptance would give you the solid foundation to move forward in creating yourself and your life the you've always dreamed.

next: You Are Always Doing Your Best

Last Updated: 06 August 2014
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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