It is easy to judge. Day in, day out, we make mental judgements about people who are different to us, who don’t have the same taste, ideas, style, morals, and social etiquette as we do.
For most of us, it has become a habit to judge. We do it quickly and automatically.
Stopping this cycle of judgement, however, ultimately makes us happier and kinder people.
If you’re interested in the benefits you can reap from stopping or cutting back on your judgemental ways then read on, because there are plenty of gains to be made!
You stop being so harsh on yourself
The most judgemental people are often incredibly hard on themselves. Leading shame expert and author Brene Brown, in her book Daring Greatly, says of this phenomenon: “We judge people in areas where we’re vulnerable to shame, especially picking out folks who are doing worse than we’re doing”.
“If I feel good about my parenting, I have no interest in judging other people’s choices. If I feel good about my body, I don’t go around making fun of other people’s weight or appearance.
“We’re hard on each other because we’re using each other as a launching pad out of our own perceived deficiency,” she added.
When we start recognising and actively working to stop judging ourselves and other people, we lift a weight of self-loathing off our own shoulders. We free ourselves to be happy with who we are, and happy in the world in which we live.
We stop being permanently disappointed
Part of judgement comes from comparing what something is with what we want it to be. This comparison steals joy and leaves us in a near constant state of disappointment with the world, other people and ourselves.
That’s no way to live.
When we live a disappointed life we do not see the wonder that is around us, we only see what is wrong with everything.
Lower depression rates
A recent study by researchers in Queensland which looked at the links between judgement and depression found that “A higher degree of the non-judgemental aspect of mindfulness was found to predict lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress-related symptoms”.
So, in plain terms, when you drop judgement and work on gratitude and connection, you may find your level of depression going down.
Get more work done
Judging co-workers and people that you interact with every day rarely helps you to get more work done. In fact if anything, getting irritated by other people’s faults will just make you expend energy you could be using to work with them and get things done.
Consider this, when has judging Erin from Accounts because she eats loudly and talks non-stop, helped you work with her and get more done?
Judging people is a waste of energy and is counterproductive. You get far more done if you approach people from a position of compassion and understanding.
You are more relatable
When you stop judging people, and instead start questioning why they behave in certain ways, and give them compassion, you instantly make yourself more relatable.
People are more likely to gravitate towards you, and in the end you may score more friends than you imagined you could have!
You will be less afraid of judgement and seek out challenges
As we mentioned before, people who judge are often very harsh on themselves, and spend a lot of time worried about others judging them.
Consider a judgemental person picking up a new sport. At first they don’t do so well, so they conclude that they are terrible, and to avoid further embarrassment they vow not to do it again.
Now imagine a non-judgemental person picking up that same sport for the first time. They may not be any good, but instead of throwing in the towel, they admit they don’t have the experience yet to be good, and commit to more practice.
When you step away from judgement and stop fearing it, you give yourself permission to try new, challenging and interesting things. You allow yourself a chance to gain new skills and to grow.
You become a more understanding and aware person
By stepping away from judgement you become a more understanding and aware person because instead of instantly drawing a conclusion, you dig a little deeper to see what is under the surface.
Consider this story: You are walking in the park. You see a dog in a pile of leaves. The dog is angry and snarling. You walk over and it snaps at you. Then you notice its leg deep in leaves. You clear the leaves and realise that its paw is caught in a trap and the dog is not angry, but in a lot of pain.
People are a lot like that. When we first look at them all we see is the surface, and it is easy to judge based on that. But if you dig a little deeper, ask yourself ‘why are they the way they are?’ you may find that there is more to their story than you imagined.
You’ll become a more positive person
When you spend your days judging people you find yourself existing in quite a negative headspace. When you drop judgement, you find you have a whole bunch of energy that you can now devote to positive pursuits and mental landscapes, which will ultimately make you happier and more at peace in the long run.
So now you know why you should ditch the judgement, lets look at a few tips to help you break your judgemental cycle:
1. Stop yourself in the act
Whenever you find yourself making quick judgements of people, stop. Recognise the thought and then offer an alternative thought or question.
For example, if you see someone who is wearing something you find horrible. You think to yourself ‘Wow, that’s the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen. As if you’d wear that’. Stop and offer the alternative thought:
‘Maybe she was given that by a very close friend’, or ‘Maybe that shirt makes her feel really special and she may be going through a tough time’. Even ‘She may be really unhappy with her body and that outfit covers the parts she hates, it may be the only thing she feels comfortable in’.
2. Turn judgements into questions
In the words of the famous writer Walt Whitman “Be curious not judgemental”.
If you find yourself judging someone or a situation, stop and instead ask ‘Why are they doing that? What’s going on behind the scenes that may be affecting that person/situation.
When we ask why, our minds open up to a whole host of possibilities, and help us to see people and situations in different lights.
3. Don’t take it personally
Very few people wake in the morning with the goal of being awful. When you find yourself going to judge someone consider that they are not awful, but rather that they may be in pain or going through a serious struggle.
When you view people with this lens it makes it easier to not take people’s actions and words personally, but to see them as reflections of the person’s own struggles.
4. Look for the good
If you find yourself leaping to judge someone, look for something good about them and focus on that.
Do they have a way with words? Are they kind? Are they gifted at their job? Do they have nice eyes? You get the picture. Find something you like about them and focus on that.
5. Focus on the similarities
We are all human. We all have blood, organs and people in our lives that we love. We all need to eat, feel safe and enjoy the protection of shelter. We all feel happy, sad, angry, hungry, joy, etc….
When you move to judge, focus instead on what similarities you have with the other person, focus on their shared humanity.
6. Remember you do it too
It’s so easy to judge someone for doing something we have all done at one point.
That person that merged in front of you too quickly, that lady who interrupted you, that man who has an opinion you don’t agree with. It’s likely that you have done something similar at one point in your life. Usually it’s because you didn’t think, or were distracted, or were in a hurry, the list goes on.
When you start to judge another’s actions, take a moment and remember a time when you did a similar thing. Exercise the same compassion and understanding you would want for yourself.
Judgement is not good for you and it’s not good for others. It may take some time to undo a judgemental habit but the benefits you reap are well worth the effort.
Interested in making a change?
A course from Open Colleges could give you the skills and knowledge that you need to make the change you have always dreamed of. Enrol today, start tomorrow.