By Andrea Plesha
Judging other people is a mental habit that we learn from our parents, and we reinforce as adults. Before we know it, it can transform us into the proverbial curmudgeon. The more we allow it to manifest in our lives, the more we damage our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health, harm other people, and inflict damage in our relationships.
Judging, despite what we might tell ourselves and others sometimes, is not the same as constructive criticism. Judging does not improve a situation and does not help anyone – when we judge we simply seize a moment to think or say something negative. We are creating a negative thought and a negative emotion. Even if we do it quietly, our emotional body is stocking these negative emotions against someone. We are creating a narrative about someone that will become our point of view about that person. Of course, the more we engage mentally with judgment in this way the more that we are likely to speak in this manner as well. It won’t be long before our relationships begin to feel the burden of our negativity.
The habit to judge others is an extension of our habit to judge ourselves. We judge when we have a victim mindset. When we are empowered, we take in information, evaluate it, and act on it. We do not need to place a judgment on anything because it would not help us get where we want to get. When we evaluate ourselves in a constructive manner, we are doing something about it, whether it is accepting fully where we are or changing something. When we judge ourselves, we complain about ourselves and take no action.
To shift the focus back to your feelings and your needs is empowering. When we judge someone else, we are distracting ourselves from what we truly feel and need.
When we judge others, we often use their behaviors or perceived shortcomings as excuses: for the way we treat them; for our decisions in general because we use the narratives about them to justify or reinforce our positions in life; or we may use their perceived shortcomings as excuses to not engage in a course of action. What drives the need to judge others is a vague sense of injury, unfairness, oppression that overtime solidifies in anger, resentment, or hate: we believe that we are the victims of other people in some way. We are judgmental because we are dissatisfied and frustrated. We do not feel empowered.
The next time you feel the impulse to judge (maybe even as you read this article), focus on what information this may be offering you about your emotions and your needs. To shift the focus back to your feelings and your needs is empowering. When we judge someone else, we are distracting ourselves from what we truly feel and need. Instead of examining ourselves and empowering ourselves to take action that would make us happier, we are devoting energy and time to someone else. At the same time, we are creating a negative situation, potentially giving ourselves a new reason to regret something we said or did (more fodder for that self-judgmental voice!).
To create a positive moment instead of a negative one, turn toward the empathic voice in your mind: remind yourself that the other person is just like you, living through life’s challenges and doing their best. Whenever we place judgment on someone else, we are also placing a judgment on ourselves. Act with love for yourself and others by putting the focus first where it belongs: your heart; your needs; your life.