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I Can Be Such a Judgmental Asshole

I have found one way for me to cultivate more acceptance of myself and others: to accept that I am a judgmental asshole.

Yes, that is right. I am a judgmental asshole. I have so many perceptions and opinions about how the world should be and how others should act.

Whenever a new student shows up to class, my mind is so quick to cast its impression about this new student.  My mind is always ready to jump to a conclusion. My mind is always reactive.

 In some instances, my mind concludes that they have a perfect yoga body and will be great students! But there have been times as a yoga teacher when I have had new students show up to class and my mind is negatively judgmental. In those moments, my mind concludes “No way! Your body is not a yoga body. You don’t look like you’re going to commit. You’re too old. You don’t have what it will take.”

There was one specific memory I have from when I first started out as a yoga teacher.  One day a student showed up. He was in his mid-to-late fifties. He did not look like he had been to a gym in years. He did not look like he had done much in the way of exercise, at all. In fact,  he looked like he had not walked to the end of his driveway in decades. 

In that moment I remember my mind jumped to a million conclusions about this man: “He is not serious. He will come to one class, maybe two, and then give up. This is the kind of person who will try to eat as much of my time as possible and not give back anything in return. He is going to be a needy student.” 

I remember that moment when all my snap judgements reared their ugly little heads. And they were ugly.  Looking back, I am mortified by some of the opinions I used to have. 

In that moment, I remember stepping back and saying to myself, “Aaron,  your job is to hold the space and allow what needs to be born to be born.”

It is not easy to step back from ourselves to see ourselves. Often it is too easy to give into our preconceived notions. Our ego and sense of self are fighting to hold on to themselves, and yoga is the process of disseminating it. 

As time passed, this student became one of my most regular and devoted students. This student, who I was so ready to dismiss, became a pillar and shining example of commitment. He demonstrated deep dedication and devotion not only to the practice but to the community and those in need of help. 

He, in turn, has become one of my dearest friends. As the years passed, this student began to follow me around the world on yoga retreats. He came with me to India and followed me into the Himalayas.  He was there for me in times when I truly needed support.

Can you imagine what would have happened if I let my over-sized, self-indulging ego take over? I have accepted that my mind is a judgement machine. In this deep acceptance, I have found that I (and I alone) can choose my reactions. I can take a deep breath, pause for a moment, and ask, “Does my opinion really matter? Why do I feel the need to see myself as superior to others?” It is from this place that I am able to move on and observe the struggles of my over-inflated ego. It is from this place that I am able to be more compassionate and understanding.

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Gandhi once said that the greatest war he ever fought was the with within himself. We can not make changes or champion world peace until we find peace within.

We are all judgmental. I have had friends end relationships with me because they did not want to accept this. 

People like to wear spiritual masks and say, “I am not a judgmental person. I just love and accept everyone.” But that’s nonsense. We are all judgmental, opinionated, and self-righteous. And it is these attributes which hinder our own path to fulfilling the purpose of our own lives.

I urge you to learn to accept the parts of yourself you wish to remain hidden. Cultivate more awareness of how your mind reacts. The first step on this path is to tell the truth. Once you accept the dark parts of yourself and bring them into the light, you will discover that you have a higher potential. Your highest potential is to love and joyfully accept yourself. Our core potential is to effortlessly accept others as they are – and not how we wish they could be.   

Have you had to own up to and admit anything particularly difficult? How did that help you find peace?

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12 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ingvild

    May 29, 2016 at 4:40 pm

    I love this!! Thank you for writing it. I met so many people while travelling who were unconditionally kind and generous to me, it totally blew my mind. They had no reason to be! Since then I have tried to be more like that. It’s hard and does not come natural to me, but at least I am AWARE of it and try not to act on the opposite. It’s slowly working and hopefully one day I will be as kind and generous as those strangers 🙂

  2. Pála Margrét

    Pála Margrét

    May 30, 2016 at 8:51 am

    Such a great article – so true, even though I do not want to admit it myself! Thank you!

    1. Yogi Aaron

      Yogi Aaron

      July 27, 2016 at 8:34 pm

      You are so welcome Pála. The first step is to name the dragon. Once you know its name, you have choice.

  3. Megan Reddix

    Megan Reddix

    May 30, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Thank you so much for being so open and honest. I truely struggle with being a gossiper, about all the juicy negativity in the word. I definitely need to become more mindful and aware of this bad habit. Thank you!

    1. Yogi Aaron

      Yogi Aaron

      July 27, 2016 at 9:05 pm

      Thanks for being so honest Megan!

  4. Amanda Sides

    Amanda Sides

    May 30, 2016 at 9:58 pm

    Ohhh, does this hit home. Over the past year or two, I’ve focused on becoming aware of when I’m being judgmental. It’s an interesting practice because, like you say, a lot of times there’s no reason at all to be making a particular judgment. It just pops up in your head, welcome or not. Recognizing it and shutting it down makes me feel more social, actually….more willing to approach people and be approached. (I was a very shy kid and that still comes out occasionally.) Thanks for writing!

    1. Yogi Aaron

      Yogi Aaron

      July 27, 2016 at 9:08 pm

      Your so welcome Amanda. It gives me great pleasure to know we connected. We all suffer from the same unconstructive habit patterns that get in the way of us fulfilling the purpose of our life. Sometimes, we need to remove ourselves from our life in order to really see ourselves.

  5. Avatar

    Lisa Rogers

    May 31, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing! I am constantly going round-and-round in my head: think/say something judgemental, wish I wouldn’t have thought/said that judgemental thing, etc. I struggle with knowing when I’m venting and when I am just speaking bad because I like the way it feels. Awesome writing!

  6. Avatar

    Alexis Waite

    June 9, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    Love you and this article Yogi Aaron. Blessed to have you in my life! I am a judgmental asshole too. I feel like admitting it to yourself is the first step in catching your thoughts and questioning them and what they serve!

    1. Yogi Aaron

      Yogi Aaron

      July 27, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      Alexis I missed you since the One-Month Immersion. I hope you are doing so well.

  7. Avatar

    Renee Bratt

    July 28, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    Wonderfully honest and enlightening.
    I’m always working hard at being mindful and catching that judgement trying to escape ??

  8. 9 Signs You Have Reached Enlightenment - Yogi Aaron

    April 9, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    […] the insanity of this? Really. You don’t eat so you turn into an asshole. I can tell you that you were probably already an asshole. Going without food may be your excuse, but it certainly was not the […]

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