Originally appeared in Planet Jackson Hole

Q: How can I let go of judgmental tendencies?
A: The key is recognizing that being judgmental is part of the ego's repertoire...

The ego aspect of the psyche is like an ever-present two-year-old. It's appropriate to indulge the two-year-old periodically, but do you want that voice to run your life? The ego is not inherently bad, and you cannot get rid of it. Like a toddler, it needs to be given clear boundaries or it will run your life.

The ego is only equipped to offer a very narrow, fearful and limited perspective on life. The ego is the part of us that always takes everything personally, never feels enough (or feels too self-important), compares itself to others (coming up better or worse than), defends itself (or attacks), needs to be right and judges everyone and everything.

While appealing to the ego may be an advertiser's dream, the real rub of living primarily from the ego is that it can never be fully satisfied. The ego always wants more and enough is never enough. And if it runs you, then you never feel enough.

That's why we also have a heart and a soul, which are directly connected to higher consciousness and are not driven by fear. The heart and soul are like the inner sage (sometimes called the higher self) always there to guide and direct us to experience nobler agendas, broader perspectives, universal truths and lasting fulfillment.

We all have the ability and the choice to recognize the agendas of the ego – putting the ego in the passenger's seat of our lives and allowing the heart and soul to be in the driver's seat. If what you'd like to experience in life is lasting fulfillment, inner peace, an open heart and mind and emotional and spiritual maturity, those attributes are the domain of the heart and soul.

One of the best ways to practice letting go of judgmental tendencies comes from a teaching by Ram Dass, former Harvard University professor, spiritual teacher and world-renowned author of "Be Here Now."

"When you go into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees," Dass said. "Some are bent, some are straight, and there are all kinds of trees. And you look at the trees and you allow it. You may see why a given tree is like it is, you sort of understand that if it didn't get enough light it grew in a particular way. And you don't get all emotional about it; you just allow it. You simply appreciate the trees.

"The minute you get near people, you lose all that, and you are constantly saying about them they are too this or that, or they are not enough this or that. You say the same things about yourself. The judging ego mind comes in. So I practice turning people into trees, which means appreciating them just the way they are."