One of my Christmas presents was a membership to Planet Fitness. I had gone to Gold’s Gym in the past but didn’t like the atmosphere–walking into a wall of sweat stench, metal-banging, and manly grunting just didn’t make me want to spend much time there. Plus I felt like I was being scrutinized with every move. Men with buzz cuts and tank tops would watch me and smirk as if to say, What a veakling. I eat veaklings like that for breakfast. And the woman beside me on the treadmill would glance over, altering her speed to go just faster than me or stay on just a little longer. Or maybe that was just how it felt.
I’m pretty simple-minded, I guess. I just want to work out and lose weight.
So we were impressed with Planet Fitness, whose philosophy and tagline is the “No Judgment Zone.” They actually prohibit tank tops, weight-dropping, and yes–judging others. Now we’re talking. People actually just work out, without the element of competition. My kind of gym!
The other day I was using the machines and found myself doing exactly what I didn’t want others to do. There was a lone woman, rather large, sitting on a machines I was waiting to use. She looked uncomfortable and awkward. My first thought was, “OK, please don’t break the machine.” Ugh! How mean is that! This poor woman was trying to work out and lose weight at the “No Judgment Zone,” and here I was, condemning her for something that she was trying her best to control. Me, the hypocrite.
That night, my husband came home from playing basketball and we got in a little tiff. (My parents used to call them “disagreements” or “discussions.” Basically, we had a fight.) He was upset about something I had said and then, in the heat of the moment, threw in other examples about why I was a bad person and why he was right and I was wrong, and blah, blah. My chain of misdeeds were, in his mind, proof that I had some serious changing to do. I looked back at each instance and remembered a very different meaning behind my words. But realizing how it had seemed to him, I was horrified at the misunderstanding. Can anyone else relate to this?
The next morning I was still steaming. How can he judge me so harshly? He obviously doesn’t appreciate me or what I do… The reasons why I was right and he was wrong were flowing through my mind like a stream of molten lava down a slope, hot and angry. My poor kids probably wondered what was wrong with mommy.
It wasn’t until later that I began to realize something. I am my husband’s biggest critic. I know his weaknesses and I sometimes beat him over the head with them. I criticize him when he doesn’t jump up quickly enough to help with kids at bathtime. I judge him when he throws his pants on the floor next to the bed instead of in the hamper. I roll my eyes when he leaves his used tooth floss on the counter. The harsh judging that I thought he was doing was actually being used right back at me, and I deserved it. We were even. The score was tied. It was time to make a choice.
I’ve made my choice. I choose to make my home a “No Judgment Zone.”
I want my husband to come home and feel safe and relaxed. I want him to be excited and happy to see us, rather than worried about how he will be attacked for not taking out the trash. I want my kids to come home from school excited to tell me about their day, rather than worried about their score on a math test. I want my family to come home to a haven–a safe place. A place where they can be themselves without being scrutinized and criticized.
Welcome to my home, the “No Judgment Zone.” We’re not perfect, but we don’t expect each other to be, either. And that’s the whole point.
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