My mother was a snob. This was despite the fact that we had no money. But she had, apparently, “come from money” and that was how she saw the world.
My mum had a lot of rules around who was 'good' and who was not. She liked 'old money' and was critical of 'new money' (whatever that was). It was of great importance that you went to a 'good school'. The profession of your friends’ father was also critical. So many rules.
But the standout rule, the rule that proved that you were worthy of my mother’s attention was how you held your knife and fork. If you got that part of the puzzle wrong - you were out, no further questions needed.
To this very day, I will judge you if you hold your knife and fork 'incorrectly'. I can’t help myself. It is hardwired into me that there is only one way to hold your knife and fork and that is the correct way.
But these days I just let that judgment come and go. I notice it and then I let it go because I know, intellectually and emotionally, that the value of a person has nothing to do with cutlery.
In my workshops, we always set ground rules. Invariably, someone will always suggest is that there be no judgment within the group. Everyone always agrees – yes we need this rule.
Personally, I don’t think that is possible. I think we are hardwired to be judgmental based on the rules of our childhood. Those rules kept us safe; they were so important to us and our wellbeing within the family system. They no doubt kept my mum safe with her parents who would have passed on those rules to her.
What we can do is be aware of our judgments. To challenge our judgments and be curious as to why we feel like this; and then to notice them and then let them go.
We are going through a period of significant social change which is much overdue. Entrenched racism may have been one of our 'rules' over many generations. However, we can be part of the solution if we become more aware of our judgements, challenge them when they come up, then let them go and start valuing people for who they truly are.