Most of us don’t even realize how often we judge. Many of us are quick to have fixed opinions about people or situations. We gossip about our boss’ spouse, we look down on other people’s parenting; we snort when a colleague eats hastily (are they chasing him?), we raise eyebrow when a teenage girl carrying her baby passes by; we are quick to call out a celebrity on Twitter for their poor fashion sense—the list goes on.
It’s human nature to judge. However, one way to become aware of how we judge is to understand why. Sometimes, we are often motivated by a need to compare ourselves favourably with the people around us. We tend to judge others in areas where we feel most vulnerable or not good enough. If I am constantly worried about being a great mum, I might be quick to look down on another mum who lets her child crawl around the verandah.
When a colleague came in late for a meeting for the third time in a row, I found myself rolling my eyes (this girl again, hian); I had no compassion to extend, because I was still beating myself up for not submitting my report a day before. In these moments, we take unconscious refuge in thoughts like; “At least I’m better than someone.”
You might be wondering whether a little judginess is always a bad thing. After all, it’s really good to point out when others are screwing up. Truth be told, judgment kills empathy. And empathy is what fuels trust and intimacy. How can we walk in other people’s shoes when we are busy judging those shoes?
You can quit on this habit if you are first, mindful of what you are thinking, feeling and saying- and why. It might seem awkward at first, but the next time you feel judgmental, stop and ask, why am I sounding or thinking this way?
Be less hard on yourself. When I submitted the report late, I called myself a slacker and totally unreliable. Had I said, “Life happens, Presh, get over it,” I might have been more emphatic when my colleague came late for the meeting. I have no idea the battles she is struggling with so judging should totally be out of the question.
Some judging can be healthy when they come as constructive criticism. We can judge the kinds of friends we hang out with, the relationships we have, the jobs we take, the schools we attend, etc. These kinds of judgments are healthy. If you have to correct someone, you don’t have to sound highly opinionated. If you really have to say something about a situation or to the person involved, make sure your correction does not come as an accusation or blame.
I have come to realize that people who judge unnecessarily are simply those who refuse to look within. Don’t be one of those people. Do not be the person to cast the first stone, because even you are not without sin.
Learn to mind your business. You either deal with people and your situation or accept them and not deal with them. That’s the way it goes. One of the hardest things in this world is to be in a position where you are unhappy, which consequently turns into disdain and judgments. Close minded people believe that their way of life is the standard. They are not tolerant of others who have different views. Try not to be this person… you either try to fix the situation, or you accept it as it is.
Start by loving and accepting who you are, then you can show compassion and accept other people for who they are. Only when we feel comfortable with our own choices and embrace our own imperfections, will we stop feeling the driving need to criticize others.
Understanding how and why we judge others, and trading that judgment for a little empathy and self-compassion, can bring more joy to our lives, families and relationship. Quit already.
Photo Credit: iStock
Precious Uwisike is a graduate of Covenant University, where she studied Mass Communication. Precious is passionate about helping people live happier lives. She is a PR executive and a social media enthusiast. Follow her on Twitter – @preshest