How to Overcome the Habit of Judging Others

“Don’t pass judgement on others or you might be judged yourself”-Brian Cohen

Do you catch yourself sometimes harshly judging people around you?

Judging hinders happiness. It’s a natural tendency of the human thinking mind to judge and criticise. We all do it, and I’m no exception.

The more we point the harsh judgemental finger at ourselves or our fellow human beings the more we are reinforcing it into a habit.

When things are not going how we want them to be, it’s very easy to slip into judgemental behaviour. The assumption when we judge someone is that if they stop the behaviour or change then everything will be ok. 

Realistically judgement tends to be the outcome when we don’t understand the experience.

If we want to let go of judging we need to invest time to observe and better appreciate how the thinking mind is running the show.

How do we free ourselves from this self-made prison?

Judgement is a symptom of a lack of understanding

When you meet a man, you judge him by his clothes; when you leave, you judge him by his heart” -Russian Proverb

A big change that I’m trying to make in my life is to let go of judging others. It negatively influences my happiness and stress levels.

Constantly judging others keeps me trapped in an emotional jail.

Alternatively, change will always happen through increased awareness. By taking the time to pay attention to my actions my tendency to judge has started to weaken. I’ve gotten better at noticing when it happens.

With this greater awareness I am starting to feel more peace, and greater happiness.

This new found freedom is not due to acquiring anything new, but because that which causes my suffering (judging others) becomes better understood and then starts to drop away.

To express it more simply, the judging isn’t the problem. The problem is a lack of understanding what the judging is a symptom of that’s causes my suffering.

Here are a number of examples: 

  • I am unaware of what the other person is going through.
  • I don’t understand the situation.
  • I have unrealistic expectations.
  • I feel superior or inferior to other people.
  • I’m being self-centred.
  • I’m not being curious and open to learning.

The Consequences of Judgment

“Judgment is forced upon us by experience”-Samuel Johnson

Hurt others. This may not always happen. If the person never finds out what you said, you’re in the clear, right? Not necessarily. Things have a way of coming back and hurting people in unexpected ways. Think about what you say. Would you say that to their face? If not, it’s probably best left unsaid.

 Make you feel worse about yourself. When you judge others you feel bad afterward. You don’t feel good about yourself. You might get a tiny rush from the judgments, but, ultimately, there will be a sense of guilt. You think you’re a bad person for casting such harsh judgments on others. You bring yourself down when you bring others down.

Put negativity into the world. No matter what you way you justify your judgments, they are not bringing anything good into the world. They bring others down. They bring you down. They make the world an unhappy place.

How to stop and let go of judging

The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”― J. Krishnamurti

First, become aware of the signals that you’re judging other people. This takes practice, but there are some symptoms that alert you to the fact you are judging:

  • If you feel angry
  • If you feel frustrated
  • If you are Dismissive of someone
  • If you are complaining or gossiping about someone.

These are the typical signs that you’re judging. Identify what’s going on.

Monitor your thoughts

When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself”- Earl Nightingale

Become aware about what you are thinking. This is challenging in the moment but can prove very useful.

My thoughts tend to spiral into negative thinking pattern without realising that I’m doing it. Someone cuts me up in traffic and that triggers a response.

 I’m working on trying to overcome this by paying closer attention to the quality of my thoughts and guiding them every time in a more positive direction.

Be aware that thoughts you have are just thoughts and may not be true.

Just notice your judgements, label them as judgements and let them go. Practising letting go of judgements will lessen the power they have over you.

With a bit of time and practice, you’ll be able to smile and say, ‘That’s a judgment’ and get on with the rest of your day.

Pause and be curious

All books are judged by their covers until they are read.”- Mary rose Wood

Monitoring your thoughts in the moment can be a tough ask when emotions start to rise. You maybe be angry or frustrated.

Alternatively, you can choose to pause and become curious to better understand what is happening. Asking the following questions will help:

  • Why are you judging?
  • What expectations do you have that are unrealistic?
  • What can you guess about what the other person is really going through?
  • Can you find out more?
  • What about the other person can you appreciate?
  • Can you get put yourself in the other person’s shoes?
  • Can you imagine a time when you were going through something similar?

These types of questions allow you to be more emphatic and compassionate to the other person’s world.

Look for the positives

Worry less about what other people think about you, and more about what you think about them.”― Fay Weldon

Judging other people is negative.

If you really look closely, there is always something positive that you can find in someone.

 As the mind likes to dwell on the negative, you can try to push your thoughts in a more positive direction and look for something positive to say. And if you can’t find something to say don’t say anything at all.

Remember how it feels

May I judge less and love more.”― Mary Davis

Remember how it feels to be judged by other people.

I don’t like being judged, neither do you!

 So try to appreciate what the other person being judged feels like. Try to put these things into practise next time you feel you’re being negative and you’re judging other people.

When I think about these things, I realize that all of them could easily be me.

 I’ve cut someone off in traffic before. I judge others when I could very well be in their shoes. And, worst of all, I feel bad about it after.

When I judge someone, I don’t feel good about myself. I feel sad. I don’t want to be judged and I’ve always believed in the idea of treating others how I want to be treated.

You can’t really do anything helpful if you come from a place of judgement. It’s only when you let judgements pass will you come to a place of happiness and peace. 

How can you help?

Once you’ve done that, ask yourself:

  • “How can I help?”
  • “What does this person need?”

 Sometimes they just need someone to listen, someone to be a friend, someone to not judge, someone to accept them.

Acceptance is actually the remedy to judgment.

Many times, we reject or judge things that don’t make sense to us. We fear uncertainty and react on a defensive mode whenever we encounter something counter-intuitive.

Train yourself to endure confusion. It’s okay for something to not make sense. Receive it without judgment. Take off the lenses of what you already to know.

You can’t help anyone them from a place of judgment. Only when you learn to let go, and come to a place of acceptance and curiosity and empathy, can you really help.

Incidentally, you’ll become a lot happier in the process.

Hopefully your enjoyed the blog.

Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments section below.

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