Someone once said, “Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out” – and wisely so. Judgment is a dangerous game, and one which is hard to stop. 

One of the best changes I’ve made in my quest for happiness is learning to see judging others as a red flag. I won’t go as far as saying that I never judge – but I’ve definitely gotten better at noticing when it happens. 

My personal and professional journeys have taught me one thing – judging others has absolutely nothing to do with the other person, but everything to do with you. Extensive research has been conducted on the topic of judgment and quality of life and it was found that positive feelings about others depict our personal satisfaction, whereas negative behaviour has been linked to higher levels of narcissism, depression and personality disorders. 

More often than not, we are quick to judge others – sometimes, a bit too soon. Have you ever thought why that might be? 

We usually judge others in the areas we feel the weakest. Let’s explore this thought with an example – say your best friend is able to work her charm in all tough situations, and you think it’s because she’s beautiful – it could imply that you’re insecure about your looks and wish you were just as pretty to get your way every time. There’s your first reason for judgment – insecurity. 

When we are insecure, we try to put other people down. By doing so, we try to boost our self-esteem, when in truth it is a clear reflection of our unhappiness. 

The second most common reason we judge others is fear. When someone intimidates us, we try to put them down by pointing out a flaw or two. We fear those who are unlike us or are different than we are, hence, we find it comforting to judge them for their personality. 

Another reason we pass judgment is because we are seeking change. When we want our life’s course to run differently, we find it easy to point out faults in the lives of others. For instance, if you want to be in a committed relationship and your friend gets engaged, you might think that their better half isn’t good enough for them. Our jealousy gets the better of us in such a situation, making us pronounce judgments rather quickly. 

Our judgments are our soft spots, because they highlight our inner weaknesses. Do you know anyone who is completely secure with who they are and also consistently and harshly judge other people? 

Whenever you catch yourself judging others, ask yourself, “What is about them that I’m so unhappy with? What can I change within myself to feel more content and positive with my life”? Remember, you can only change yourself – let others lead their lives as they know best. When you are happy and fulfilled within, you’re not going to have reason to judge other people. 

There are a few ways to get to that inner ‘happy place’. 

  • Monitor your thoughts – Think about what you’re thinking about. Sometimes we judge people without realizing it. So pay attention to your thoughts and push them in a positive direction. 
  • Look for the positive – Judgments are negative. Almost always, you’ll be able to find the positive in someone or something. And if you can’t find something nice to say, why not keep mum? 
  • Stop judging yourself – It’s not easy to do, but the more you criticise yourself, the higher your chances are of judging others. Stay positive about yourself and eventually, you’ll see the good in others. 
  • Remember how it feels – Would you like it if someone judged you? Think about how you felt when you last judged someone. It doesn’t feel good to judge and be judged so break away from this vicious cycle now!

This doesn’t mean that judging is wrong. There are a lot of values worth judging – for instance if you judge someone to be violent or malicious, it’s because you don’t want to possess such traits, therefore you don’t tolerate them in others. If you see someone attacking an innocent person, you would be angered, but that’s because it’s not something you would do. There are fine lines in our thoughts that can be classified as judgmental or non-judgmental. It’s up to us to determine what these lines are. 

Your judgments reflect the way you think. When the mind is constantly tuned in, it makes judgments about everything and everyone it comes across. If you catch yourself forming a pre-conceived opinion about someone, don’t attach importance to it. All your dissatisfaction, bitterness and negativity come from your own limitations – they are not tied to the prevalent situation. Once you realise this, you can truly consider yourself as a mature human being. 

I’ll leave you with this thought – language is a powerful tool that influences our thinking. The next time a negative thought crosses your mind, look for the positive in the situation. For instance, if you see someone acting completely insane, think to yourself: “I wonder if there’s something going on with that person I don’t know about”. By shifting your thoughts to something more positive, you’ve taken the first step to changing your bad habit of judgment for the better.

Leila Almaeena