“A good place to begin, is to forgive yourself for judging other people in the first place.”  – Bryant McGill

A big change that I’m trying to make in my life is to let go of judging other people as it’ll make me happier and less stressed. Judging another person, seeing the negative  in another person, hinders your happiness. This is often an obstacle to personal happiness and it often trips me up way more than I’d like it to.

We’re told to ‘never judge a book by its cover’ yet we all judge other people – I think it’s inborn trait or its something that we’ve developed throughout our childhood. Now I’m trying to break this habit, but it’s tough as its so easy to see the negative in another person.

I’m learning to see judging other people as a red flag. So whenever I notice that it’s happening I see it as a sign of something bad and then try to let it go.

Why is judging bad? Judging is a symptom of a negative mind-set, it causes us harm. By harm, I mean that it infects and inflates our ego. What are the causes or situations that occur because I’m judging another person. Well, here are a few: 

  • I think I’m superior to other people
  • I have unrealistic expectations of people
  • I don’t understand the situation
  • I’m ignorant of what the person is going through  
  • I’m not grateful
  • I’m being self-centred
  • I’m not really helping the situation coming from a place of judgement

Judging others, keeps you in a trap – an emotional jail. For example, a typical fake example to show you what I mean. A co-worker is loud and opinionated and thinks they’re superior to other people. and just annoys everyone by being so brash and does other bad things because of their own inflated beliefs and opinions.

I judge them because of what they’re doing, get frustrated and angry with them and dismiss them as not worthy of my attention. This kind of thing happens all the the time  – just replace the co-worker with spouse, friends, family members or kids.

In this example, I’m ignorant of what the persons going through and don’t really understand the situation. She’s been depressed, feeling guilty, feeling stuck or scared of something. Because of these bad feelings, she doesn’t like to think about it but it makes her feel better by thinking that she’s superior to others. I similarly do these things as well, I fail all the time, I feel bad, I feel I’m superior to others even though I’m not.

I’m also being self-centred by focusing on how much better I am than them, how she’s frustrating or annoying me. As you can see I’ve made a judgement here and I can’t do anything because I’ve written her off. You can see how things affect me, they make me frustrated, angry and unhappy, amongst other things.

How to stop judging

The first step is to be aware that you’re judging other people and see it it as a red flag. Letting go of judging is difficult and requires repeated practise. But there are some symptoms that alert you to tell you that you’re judging – if you feel angry, frustrated or dismissive of someone. If you’re complaining or gossiping about someone. These are the tell-tale signs that you’re judging.

Monitor your thoughts
Think about what your thinking about. I tend to think things about other people, judge them and I don’t even realise that I’m doing this. I’m working more on paying attention to my thoughts and then push them in a more positive direction.  To do this you have to mindful of your thoughts. You have to aware of your judgements and simply let them go.

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 to let go of judgements  will lessen the power they have over you. With a bit of time and practise, you’ll be able to smile and say, ‘That’s a judgment’ and get on with the rest of your day. 

If monitoring your thoughts, seems difficult you can pause and reflect on the following questions:

Why am I judging?
What are the things about the other person you appreciate?
Can you guess what the other person is going through?
Can you put yourself in the other person’s shoes? 
Can you remember a time when you went through something similar?

Look for the positive
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.

Stop judging yourself
The more you judge yourself, the more  you’re likely to judge others and gossip about them. When you call someone ‘stupid’ or ‘not very smart’, you avoid feeling bad about yourself and place your burden on someone else. When you’re having problems it’s so easy to judge others. Judging yourself is actually a form of punishment. Judging isn’t effective and it’s not very motivating or helpful. Coming from a place of judgment doesn’t help anyone nor does it lead to getting something done regardless of how much you believe it to be true.

Remember how it feels
Remember how it feels to be judged by other people. I don’t like being judged, neither do you! So try imagine 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. Use the symptoms as a red flag so that you’re aware your doing this.    

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.