Feeling judged by others is a fairly universal theme among my clients and friends, so I wanted to share some insights I’ve gained which might help you reframe the way you hear hurtful comments.
The spiritual principles you need to understand are the relationship between our lower and higher natures, the principle of neither giving offence nor taking offence; and the concept of “love languages”.
We were born with both a higher and lower nature. The lower nature is the voice of the ego, and the higher nature is the voice of God. You can tell the difference between the two, because one is judging and condemning, and the other is pure love.
It’s common to hear “you should” . . . and immediately go to “I’m not good enough”. Both sentences are lies emanating from our lower nature! The only one who knows what you should do, is God, and you can know His will for you through the Bahá’í Writings.
The truth is that God created you perfect . . .
With the hands of power I made thee and with the fingers of strength I created thee; and within thee have I placed the essence of My light. Be thou content with it and seek naught else, for My work is perfect and My command is binding. Question it not, nor have a doubt thereof. (Baha’u’llah, Hidden Words, Arabic 12)
. . . and noble,
Noble have I created thee, yet thou hast abased thyself. (Bahá’u’lláh, Hidden Words, Arabic 22).
We abase ourselves every time we act from the lower nature, by putting ourselves down or allowing others to do so. You’re good enough for God, and that’s all that matters.
Giving and taking offence:
To protect us from ourselves, the Bahá’í Writings tell us we’re not to give offence nor take offence:
Thus no member should ever allow himself to be prevented from expressing frankly his view because it may offend a fellow member; and, realizing this, no member should take offence at another member’s statements. (Universal House of Justice, Lights of Guidance, p. 179-180)
When we “give offence” we are deliberately saying things designed to oppress a soul – another “no-no” in our Faith:
There is no fire in the eyes of those who have known God and His signs, fiercer than to transgress His laws and to oppress another soul, even to the extent of a mustard seed. (The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, p. 79)
“Taking offence” means believing someone else’s lie – something spoken from their lower nature. The best remedy for that is to see them as captives of their lower nature, and forgive them:
If someone commits an error and wrong toward you, you must instantly forgive him. (Abdu’l-Bahá, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 453)
Language of love
Dr. Gary Chapman has written a book called “The Five Languages of Love”. In it, he identifies 5 ways in which people demonstrate their love for each other:
Words of Affirmation: If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.
Quality Time: In the vernacular of Quality Time, nothing says, “I love you,” like full, undivided attention. Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful.
Receiving Gifts: Don’t mistake this love language for materialism; the receiver of gifts thrives on the love, thoughtfulness, and effort behind the gift. If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.
Acts of Service: Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.
Physical Touch: A person whose primary language is Physical Touch is, not surprisingly, very touchy. Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.
For example, I’m a person who values quality time and acts of service, and don’t particularly care about getting gifts. As a life coach, I’m likely to think deeply about what my clients tell me and sometimes go overboard finding the exact quotes from the Bahá’í Writings which might help them solve their problems. Sometimes, clients who value words of affirmation “take offence” because I give them lengthy responses which turn into blog postings instead of simply affirming that they are OK where they are. They feel judged instead of feeling loved, and “take offence” when no offence was intended. They don’t understand that I was only acting out of my “love language”.
A note to my life coaching clients: You can be 95% certain that whatever I say, I am not judging you (the other 5% is because I’m human!) One thing you can know for sure, though, is that I can’t bear to give offense. If I know I’ve hurt someone, it hurts me even worse!
Click here to find out what your love language is. You don’t need to give your name and email address. Just click on “skip this step”.
How has your life been affected by giving or taking offence? Post your comments here: