Are You Judgmental?

I’ve been noticing a common theme among my clients lately.

“I can’t believe….”

“He shouldn’t be…”

“She thinks she is so…”

“I’m so…”

I am sure you can fill in the blanks!

There is so much judgment towards other people and judgment of ourselves.

My clients feel hurt when people are judging them, but they in turn are busy judging others.

It leads to a terrible cycle of everyone not feeling good enough.

This year 2020 seems to be especially judgmental.

The year started off with the country, actually the world, polarized on their views about President Trump. You are either smart or stupid if you support Trump.

Judging Leads to Labeling

Judging a person sticks a label on them.

“She is so needy.

“He is a misogynistic jerk.” 

“Immigrants are drug dealers or suicide bombers.”

Once you have slapped a label on someone, you no longer see them as a human being who, like you, experiences love and loss, passion and heartache, happiness and failure.

They become sub-human, a thing, an object of distain and ridicule.

Coronavirus Creates New Judgment

Suddenly a lot of the judgment toward Trump seemed to get refocused, because of the Coronavirus.

Now it’s people judging you based on how they believe we should be quarantining and what they think is appropriate behavior when it comes to social distancing and wearing a mask.

I had the unique opportunity to see this play out across the country, while I was on a 3-month road trip when the first case of outbreak occurred in the U.S.

Each city we went to seemed to have different standards as to what was appropriate when quarantining.

In some cities people continued to walk in their neighborhoods and on the local trails like in Sedona, AZ and others turned into ghost towns such as Santa Fe, NM. 

In some places everyone was wearing a mask like in Boise, Idaho and in other cities like Austin, TX hardly anyone wore a mask at all.

Bike shops were open as essential businesses in Orange Beach, AL and in Park City, Utah they were all closed. We went sledding instead!

Some people had opinions and judgments as to whether my fiancé John and I should be traveling at all. “You should head home immediately.” And about our behavior while we were traveling; “You should always wear a mask.”

Many of my clients have been complaining about feeling judged by their family and friends for their decisions around quarantining or admitted they themselves had been judging.

“My family will not come over to celebrate my birthday. I have been all alone for 2 months – they are all just being selfish.” or “They shouldn’t be working; they are jeopardizing everyone else.”

We all know what it feels like to be judged by someone – it sucks and it hurts.

Judging causes disconnection and distance, even though we all want to feel connected and a sense of belonging – especially now.

Judging others also create feelings of superiority, which may make you feel safe, but it also can make you feel very alone.

What is Judgment?

The definition of “to judge” is: “a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion” or “the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing.”

When you are in discernment, you evaluate whether something is right or good for YOU. Then you can take appropriate action based on your own values.

What turns discernment into judgment is when you add a value judgment.

It goes from the other person has a different opinion or doing something that is “not right for me” to they are, or their behaviors are, bad or wrong.

Self-Criticism is Judgment

It works the other way too…when you put someone on a pedestal thinking they are better than you, you feel bad and critical of yourself.

This does not seem like an obvious advantage, but think of it this way… If you had a critical mother or father, you unconsciously related criticism with love in order to align with their opinion of you.

You then create an Inner Critic who eventually takes over the job.

So, judging yourself as “less than” feels like love. But in truth is a misunderstanding of what love actually is – being compassionate and kind to your self.

When we judge ourselves, it limits our ability for self-expression, joy, and connection to others.

Black and White Thinking

You may have noticed some people are very literal, meaning they see the world as black or white, good or bad, right or wrong.

In my opinion, this is a very narrow view of the world.

A higher level of consciousness (and frankly, intelligence) is the ability to see the grey areas.

As humans, we naturally will have different points of views based on our upbringing, culture and life experiences.

Our view is also based our perspectives, the stories we tell ourselves and our beliefs.

But no matter how ridiculous someone else’s point of view sounds to you, we are all still worthy of respect and love.

How I help myself have compassion and patience with other people and their point of view is to believe we ALWAYS are doing our best.

It might not be our overall best based on how much sleep we got the night before, if we just had a fight with our spouse or we skipped breakfast. 

But it is still our best that day.

You will have so much more understanding and compassion for other people if you adopt that belief.

What is the Purpose of Judgment? 

In the animal world, animals see others as competitors for the same resources: hunting, sleeping quarters and desirable mates.

Animals have a social hierarchy that determines who eats first, who leads the pack and who gets the pick of mating partners.

Humans are also social creatures, so we want to know where we stand in the social pecking order.

Often higher status is based on acquisition of resources; money, power, leadership and access to food and highly prized mates.

We compare ourselves to others and do whatever we can to elevate our status.

People will judge someone else harshly, believing it elevates their status,
i.e. “If she is wrong, I’m right”. “If he has less money, I’m better than him”.

Comparing is a lame way to make yourself feel better.

It feeds the misperception that If I knock someone else down, my status goes up.

When you do this, you not only lose your connection to the person or group you’ve judged, you also lose your connection to the part of yourself that is similar to them.

I challenge my clients all the time to reflect on what they judge other people for and they often admit it is an area they feel insecure about in themselves.

Ironically I will hear someone complain about how judgmental their wife/husband/friend is as they themselves are judging that person.

The awful result is a deep feeling of being disconnected and alone in the world.

That loneliness causes us to look for anything to fill that hole…emotional eating and drinking, numbing drugs and disconnected sex to name a few.

Letting Go of Judgment

So to recap, the trick to letting go of judgment is to decide to have compassion for the other person rather then disdain.

Start by dismissing the belief, “There’s something bad or wrong with the other person (or me).”

And imagine replacing it with the belief, “That person sees or experiences the world differently than me because…”.

They may have had difficulties and hurts I was not aware of.

They are just trying to be happy, just like me. They are still learning about themselves, life, and the world.”

This is the essence of compassion – recognizing our common humanity.

Our label or story we made up about them dissolves and a real person with feelings and desires emerges.

They are someone we can relate to, understand, and have some sort of a relationship with.

And if you judge yourself, do the same thing. Instead of labeling yourself as less than others (or more than others), try self-compassion.

“I was doing the best I could given the circumstances,” (not enough sleep, feeling fear and worry, had a fight with my spouse, etc.).

Try on this belief instead: “Just like every other human being, I make mistakes, which is how I learn and grow.”

Here’s a test of whether a belief is empowering and positive, or negative and destructive:  Do you feel good about the person or disdainful and superior? Would you enjoy living in a world in which everyone believed that?

Are You Ready To Replace Judgment?

How can you try on this new way of being/believing in the world by replacing judgement with compassion to see how it changes your life for the better?

If you need help with this or any other issue in your life, please click the graphic below to set up a free clarity session.