What Is It That Makes A Plant A Weed? Exploring the Power of Judgment


What is it in us that decides which plants are weeds? There is a saying, “but for judgment, even a weed would be a flower”. I find that thought provoking.

When considering the idea of a weed, judgment is the decider. What I judge, that is it, done. Too tall, too spindly, flowers too small, takes over (too strong), all just a judgment call, an opinion or preference but often taken to the extreme of death to the plant.

We are judging machines, judging almost everything. Look at a picture of ten people and notice how we usually start dividing them up into the sheep and the goats. Before we get too far along here and start deciding that I am judging you, well, let us be clear, I… and you, judge everyone, all the time. Normal. It would be my judgment of myself that could get cranky about the idea that you judge me, especially if you judge me to be a weed.

This judging thing is as old as the dinosaurs. Life was preserved for those that judged well. Those that didn’t judge got eaten. So we have in our DNA many millennia of practicing life sustaining judgment. It goes all the way to the beginning. No need to judge yourself for making an initial judgment about another person. We do that. In the next second after that initial, instinctual, primordial judgment we have choices. We can continue to use a flight or fight perspective or we can move to less judgment, more curiosity and from there begin to develop a relationship.

When I act from judgment I act from fear. When in fear, the body is in flight or fight mode, adrenaline flows, focus is on survival, so, offense or aggressive defense, the digesting organs go on hold to allow maximum blood flow to the muscles, our total focus is on imminent war. Wow. And double wow, I am no longer listening to you, just trying to run away or kill you, before you kill me.

This initial instinctual response to each other is normally shed in a fraction of a heartbeat. Sometimes not. If I hold that threatening set of thoughts about you for even a second, you will sense it and start to prepare for your survival. Ever meet someone and it just feels like you don’t want to be around them? That.

At work, how do I initially interact with new people or staff from another department or management or the company owner? If ‘just a touch cautious’, only for a moment, that is what I am talking about. That is a moment of fear that can feed self preservation judgment. From that perspective we decide upon our actions. Isn’t that just great?

The way I see you and the way you see me is felt by each of us. If I am feeling anything but completely safe, I feel caution, fear, judgment. Some of that could be me judging me because I am a little tiny bit afraid of you. I don’t know how to act.  Fear, judgment. Here we go again.

One antidote can be to, in my mind, preview my interaction with you just before we are to meet. I can check in to how that is going to feel, even design how I want it to feel. This does not eliminate, but does substantially reduce, that auto judge response that we experience all day long. But for judgment, even a weed would be a flower, is a primer to how I decide to perceive you. When I perceive you as a welcome flower I am most likely to feel safe to you. If I see you as a weed, it would be no wonder if you didn’t exactly shine forth in our interactions.

When I consciously perceive the world as welcoming and safe, I come across to others as welcoming and safe. That is a great asset and we get to decide whether or not to use it.

Joseph Seiler MCC 2011-2022

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