Written by Corie Chu
Read time: 5 minutes
On average, we see about 5000 strangers in a day. We meet them on the streets, we eat in the same restaurants as they do, and we even sit with them on public transportation.
It’s sometimes inevitable that we look at strangers and make judgments. The guy with a crinkled shirt must be sloppy. The woman doing make-up on the subway just cares a lot about her looks. The man wearing a leather jacket might be drinking a lot later.
All these judgments can come out after just five seconds of seeing a stranger.
But judgments aren’t exclusive to strangers. There’s a reason why “I’m going to judge people less…” is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions.
Our judgments can extend to those closest to us, even to those whom we say we love.
Creating hasty judgments can seem harmless. However, when consistently done, the habit of making judgments and being judgmental about your own life can cost you genuine, healthy relationships, and inner peace.
The Real Cost of Being a Judgmental Person Over Others
Why is the habit of judging others such a harmful thing?
Making a judgment without knowing the real stories is like jumping to conclusions prematurely – we miss information that can help us better understand a person or an event.
We miss stories that could help us feel deeper for a person. We miss the opportunity to understand what they’re going through. We miss the chance to respond to their struggles with help.
Creating immediate judgments prevents us from discovering stories, and from knowing who people really are.
Signs That You Are a Judgmental Person:
You believe that people are against you.
You want people to deliver perfection all the time.
You find it hard to see people beyond their flaws.
Judgmental people jump to conclusions quickly.
You feel that people can only be two things – good or bad
You feel that people are constantly trying to take advantage of you and you expect it.
You struggle to see the good characteristics of people.
Your self-worth/self esteem are low.
You find it difficult to trust.
Your inner critic is harsh.
If some of these signs stood out to you, or if you feel uncomfortable going through the lists, then it’s most likely that giving out judgments might be an issue for you.
So how do you stop being judgmental?
Understand that being overly judgmental can be a reflection of a defensive ego
Judging others, being overly critical can be a form of defense mechanism. This defense mechanism is a way to protect our egos, our self esteem, or our false perceptions of ourselves.
Giving out judgment to others can “protect” our ego. Our ego’s number one job is to make us feel superior and excellent.
When someone comes in and disrupts this confidence, the ego’s tendency is to go into defense mode by throwing out judgments. Once our own feelings tell us that the other person is not as regal as we think, our egos are pacified.
Being judgmental does not always mean we’re inherently bad. Sometimes, it’s just the defensive ego talking.
If we go deep down, we will realize that sometimes, we’re too critical of others because we’re also too critical of ourselves.
It’s important to “connect” with our inner voice, the one who knows who and what we really are.
When we begin to be kind to ourselves, we can ultimately begin to be kinder to others.
Improving our self-talk can range from not being too harsh on ourselves over our mistakes, to giving ourselves the liberty to say no to fretting over our shortcomings.
Giving ourselves positive self-talk can also include overcoming the need to be perfect every time.
Be forgiving of your weaknesses
The idea of perfection is very elusive, yet we endlessly pursue it. This unrealistic expectation can extend to those who are closest to us. Small mistakes can cause us to give harsh judgments on ourselves. This tendency can also prevent us from giving other people room to make mistakes.
As we overcome our tendency to dwell on our weaknesses and the weaknesses of others, let’s be forgiving of weaknesses.
One of the first steps is to understand that mistakes, shortcomings, and failures are part of the human experience.
Have the courage to accept all the parts – the good, the bad, and even the mess
Things will not always be great. There will be problems, and we will inevitably deal with bad days, awful outcomes, and results that make us think negatively of ourselves and other people.
If we’re sharing experiences with other people, we must understand that they will be bringing good and not-so-pretty aspects to the table. Understanding that these aspects are part of the entire human experience, we can see past imperfections without giving hurtful judgments.
Writing down our emotions and our tendency to be a heavy judger toward ourselves and other people can highlight what our trigger points are.
For example, simply writing down your rawest emotions can reveal how you perceive yourself.
If you see a pattern—say you see yourself as helpless or worthless—use it as a benchmark for improvement.
Look beyond the imperfections
Let’s say you meet a new mom with kids who have mismatched socks, or crumpled clothes.
If you immediately jump to the conclusion that the mom is lazy, you miss the chance to hear the real, full story.
But if we look beyond the imperfections, and as we begin to foster understanding, we can be less judgmental.
Instead of judging the mother negatively, we become more empathic.
Stay mindful when building human connections
Have you had an experience meeting someone and you genuinely want to know more about them?
Our desire to know more about their story simply eradicates any judgmental thoughts.
We begin to understand them better because we know them, their stories, and their experiences. Judgment had no place because you truly want to know them through and through.
The best antidote to judgmental thoughts is mindfulness. When we’re settled in a judgment, our views become limited, and as a result, we fail to see things and people for their greatness.
When making human connections—without judgment—we must be present. We should be mindful.
Being truly and genuinely interested in someone can help you get to know them better without the nagging, judgmental thoughts.
We’re not perfect; we’re going to give unfair judgments every now and then.
But as we overcome our habit of judging, we can begin to enjoy our own human experiences even more and be more present with them.
And that’s when we can really live more meaningfully.