Judgment closes us down and is final, whereas opinion leaves us open-hearted and open to change. Most of us understand that when we judge someone or someone judges us, it is a negative emotional experience. As a result, we naturally want to avoid being judgmental, but this gets confusing when we feel we have to suppress thoughts that could be offering us guidance. For example, we may meet someone new and stop a negative feeling about them, thinking that we don’t want to fall into the trap of being judgmental. Later, though, it may turn out that paying attention to that thought could have helped us take care of ourselves or someone else.
It is essential to learn to distinguish inner guidance and have an opinion from judgment; otherwise, we risk not listening to our intuition and not allowing ourselves to form opinions. Internal advice and ideas help us interact more intelligently in the world, so we don’t want to throw them out to avoid being judgmental. Our intuition usually makes itself known in a flash and often has a physical component — a flutter in our stomachs, sweaty palms, or a chill. We always benefit when we use this information to help us navigate a situation. Similarly, having an opinion about a person or an idea allows us to converse about it in a focused way with intention. Listening to our intuition and forming views are positive outcomes of our ability to interpret the information that comes our way.
When we make a judgment, on the other hand, we attempt to have the final say on whether someone or something is inherently good or bad. Decisions close us down instead of opening us up; opinions have a lighter quality and are amenable to change. Once a judgment has been made, there is no more conversation or consideration, whereas beliefs invite further debate. Intuition guides us from moment to moment but, unlike judgment, never makes a final decree. In other words, it is only healthy to be open to the information we receive and to allow ourselves to process that information. As long as we stay open and fluid, we can trust that we have not fallen prey to the trap of judgment.