We all make judgments every day. We make snap decisions based on the news we watch or what our friends post on social media. Quickly we determine if something is good, irrelevant, or bad. We do this about people, events, and emotions. At that moment, we form an opinion about how we will reply to whatever our circumstances are.
The brain is wired to make these judgment calls as part of its survival mechanisms. Our eyes scan our surroundings to determine threat levels and search for ways to counteract them if they arise. This level of egoic fear made sense in our early evolution to keep us alive. But now, most of us aren’t dealing with the elements or wild creatures, and our fear is causing more harm.
When our ego is trying to determine if something is safe, it now looks at our experiences, how we compare to others, and our hurt feelings. And suppose it decides that those around us differ from ourselves. In that case, it wants to instill fear in us because these differences are unknown.
When we look at this logically, we can see how irrational the egoic mind is. But this process causes us to fear those things that are unfamiliar to us. What we fear is unsafe; therefore, we evade, destroy, and undermine it. And thus, we have the roots to hate that lead to prejudice, chauvinism, and intolerance.
Judgment separates us from the people we want to be close to incredibly quickly. Whether it’s our internal self-judgment that shuts down opportunity for connection or our judgment of others that makes it hard for loved ones to open up to us, judgment is cancer for authenticity in relationships. ~ Gina Senarighi
Why We Judge
As human beings, it’s normal for us to judge others and ourselves. We are forming an opinion based on thoughts, data, and feelings in a matter of seconds. In this judgment, all done on the subconscious level, we assess their integrity to determine if we are safe.
When the ego concludes we are not in danger, it then starts the comparisons.
When we allow the egoic mind to compare us to others, we spiral into judgment. Not only are we judging others, but usually more about ourselves. We do this assessment superficially created on what our senses pick up. The ego is always searching for and highlighting the difference between us. And we base most of our judgments on our own strengths and weaknesses, not who is in front of us.
This newfound opinion of the other we perceive as the truth, whether positive or negative. And this so-called reality we created from the judgment we just made occurred without ever speaking to the person.
If we are shy or anxious about meeting people, the ego uses judgment to help us feel better. We can see this when we meet someone very different from ourselves, and we judge them for being unlike us.
Our judgments judge us, and nothing reveals us, exposes our weaknesses, more ingeniously than the attitude of pronouncing upon our fellows. ~ Paul Valery Flametree
The Harm Judgments Cause
Conclusions we make about others can hurt them. It harms others because we don’t connect with them or tell others our negative opinion, which may influence how they interact with this person.
Judging harms us because it makes us feel bad about ourselves for making judgments. We now turn our negative judging onto ourselves. We feel guilty for making harsh assessments of others without getting to know them. We allow the inner critic to take us on a downward spiral into self-judgment and loathing.
We continue to allow stereotypes to perpetuate. Labels are what the ego uses to keep others away and make us feel alone. It wants us to see the surface level, that 0.01% of the differences between us, and not the 99% that is the same. When we categorize ourselves and others, it doesn’t allow for growth or change. It doesn’t let anyone to be authentic and forces everyone into a box that is a lie.
If we are judging others, then we are certainly judging ourselves, and probably more harshly. If we are overly concerned about our appearance, then we not only judge others on how they look but ourselves for not meeting our own standards.
Any judgment we make is negative. Yes, the ego can justify why judging is positive, but the egoic mind is a master of rationalization. It makes others feel bad; it makes us feel bad, and nothing good comes from it.
We can never judge the lives of others because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path. ~ Paulo Coelho
Choose to Respond with Love
As incredible as it sounds, the conclusion we make about others and others make about us happens so fast we don’t realize it occurred. So how can we pause this automatic behavior so we can allow ourselves and others to be seen and accepted as we are?
The way for us to disconnect the automated egoic response is to take a few deep breaths and allow our autonomic nervous system to engage. This breathing allows our awareness to focus on the similarities we have with others instead of the differences.
When we consciously choose to see another with the eyes of compassion, we allow acceptance and kindness to flow. When we greet others with love and respect, their response to us is almost always the same. Love dispels fear, is accepting, and allows peace to enter the interaction.
When we proactively approach the circumstances with love in our hearts, we remember who we really are and allow others to be their authentic selves. We can be vulnerable and make genuine connections with others.
Yes, we will still make judgments so our brains can make sense of the world, but understand that we make them without context, and most likely, they are not valid. At best, they make us suspicious of others, and we choose not to connect. Or worse, they make us discriminate against others because our ego was afraid.
Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Disconnecting the Autopilot
When we have a new set of circumstances or are meeting new people, pay attention to the unconscious thoughts that are occurring. Then watch how they lead to judgments. How did we feel before the judgmental thought appeared? Were we anxious, unconfident, or unhappy? Could we base the conclusions we made on feelings we are projecting onto others?
If we are trying to feel better about our situation, putting others down only reinforces our insecurities. So when we know we are making judgmental thoughts, we can consciously disconnect the autopilot from our egoic mind.
When we’ve disengaged the ego, we can soulfully look for the similarities we have with others and see the situations differently. This new perspective allows us to connect authentically because we want to understand them instead of looking for ways to divide.
When we detach the ego from our initial interactions with others, ask ourselves the following question to see why we are making these judgments.
- What preconceived ideas do we have?
- Is this reaction based on past experiences?
- Do we have a limited view of the world?
- Are we biased?
- Is this conclusion really about us and not the other person?
- Are we jealous of the other?
When we understand where these thoughts are coming from, we can comprehend ourselves better and alter the next interaction we have with others from a mindful place.
As we seek information instead of judging, we can keep the autopilot mode from engaging.
Judging is acting on limited knowledge. Learn the art of observing without evaluating. ~ Pushpa Rana
Approach Others with Curiosity & Empathy
For us to move past superficial judgments, we need to meet people with an open mind. When we are curious, we ask questions and engage with them to gain information. This enquiring enables us to get insight and form better conclusions about the person. We are now taking the time to learn more about them. And once we know more about the stranger, the more likely we will see them as a friend.
Another way for us to get a better understanding of another is to learn their story. Where are they from, how did they get here, how is their journey similar to ours? When we speak to others, we open ourselves to see how they are like us, to understand who they are. We allow authentic connections to form.
As we get to know someone, allow empathy to enter the conversation. When we learn to see through another’s eyes, we enable ourselves to understand their choices from their perspective. With a compassionate viewpoint, we see ourselves in the other and can make a more positive assessment.
Once we have a better understanding of the other, we can accept them as they are. With acceptance, we aren’t looking to change the person or their opinion. We can see the essential goodness that is in all humanity. We all want love and happiness despite our missteps. Acknowledging that we see their authentic selves is an act of love.
When we generalize and judge people quickly without taking ample time, we’ve chosen a shortcut. It’s superficial of us and a lack of wisdom. ~ Assegid W. Habtewold
Reframing Our Viewpoints
When we’ve made a judgment, let’s look at how to reframe that conclusion. For example, my husband gets irate at someone who cuts him off and speeds away, and is vocal about the incident. I’ve pointed out that he doesn’t know what’s happening in that person’s life. Maybe they are rushing to the hospital because a loved one has been in an accident. When we reframe the situation with compassion, we can release negative judgment.
Our open-mindedness to alternative ways of getting things accomplished allows for the acceptance of differing behaviors. We all want to live fulfilled lives, but how we get there will differ from how others do because our paths are diverse.
When we look at others’ behaviors, remember we’ve probably done something similar. So be kind. We’ve all taken missteps, said things we’ve regretted, and wish we would have chosen better. Allow others to learn the way we did and give them the benefit of the doubt. We all do the best we can with what’s in front of us.
Remember the last time someone judged us unfairly? How did we feel? Well, let’s consciously choose never to make someone feel the same way. Instead, look for the positive in others. Their smile or the positive energy we feel from them. Or focus on ourselves and how appreciative we are for all the blessings in our lives.
The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence. ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
Stop Judging Ourselves
Although we all judge others, we criticize ourselves the harshest. Therefore, we need to have some compassion for ourselves. We need to forgive ourselves for being so disparaging. And as we are empathetic with ourselves, it makes it easier to be sympathetic with others.
When we use self-love to stop the negative self-talk, we allow ourselves to be kind and understanding, not only to ourselves but also to others. It also keeps us from needing to go to others for approval because we are self-accepting.
Furthermore, when we feel good about ourselves, our self-confidence increases, and we find fewer faults with others. When we consciously focus on our positive aspects of ourselves, we expect to see the good things in others.
Finally, don’t blame ourselves when we judge. Since it’s an instinctive part of our brains, we can’t stop it from happening. The best we can do is to be aware and not allow these false assessments to influence how we respond.
When we stop judging others and ourselves, our heart begins to open. ~ Swami Dhyan Giten
Moving Forward Non-judgementally
When we judge, it affects us more than the other because it’s a reflection of us. It shows us how we perceive the world. Do we see positive things, or are we allowing the egoic mind to keep us fearful?
So, when we approach new experiences, take a deep breath and be open and curious. Let’s allow more time for observation before we have a conclusion. And if we don’t disengage the automatic judgmental reaction of the ego, let’s quickly reframe the judgment we made. Instead, let’s take the time to ask questions and get to know more about the other person.
Our perceptions become our realities, so let’s be sure they are positive and helpful. Let’s be open to authentic connections by embracing others as they are and search for similarities and not differences.
When we stop evaluating others, we stop judging ourselves. When we accept others as they are, we learn to believe in ourselves and stop worrying about what others think about us. With compassion for ourselves and others, we allow our hearts to open and love to flow. Where there is love, there is no judgment.
The business of finding fault is very easy, and that of doing better very difficult. ~ St. Francis de Sales
As we become more conscious of how we judge others, we can learn to alter our fearful egoic pattern. When we do, we can respond thoughtfully from a place of love and make authentic connections.
Do you need support to help you stop judging yourself and others? Do you want a strategy to help you overcome the ego’s limiting beliefs and live a successful life? If so, please reach out to me at TerriKozlowski.com, and we can put together an action plan for you to create the life you desire.