Is it possible to look at the world with an absence of judgement? Can you look at the stars without noting their beauty or a spider without gasping in disgust? The distinctions we place between beautiful and disgusting are all constructed in our minds. Poorer people aren’t inherently lesser in reality, but our minds have demoted them and convinced us that is how things are when the contrary is true. Our perceived notions of good and bad, or better than or less than are all constructed in our minds. In reality, these things or people just exist and there is no hierarchy attributed to their existence. We make that distinction ourselves.
Our minds are very good at making snap judgements about how the world should look and behave. It’s a survival skill that man evolved in order to quickly decide whether a person, thing or situation was safe. It made sense back then. Man had to decide if it was a good idea to jump out and try to attack a baby bear cub, then his snap judgement would hopefully kick in and he would decide not to because mama bear couldn’t be too far. However, in the highly evolved world we live in today, snap judgements can be detrimental to our mental health and to others around us. And many of us learned this the hard way.
When I grew up, my parents were very judgmental. They would act kindly to someone up front, but when the doors closed behind them they would talk about others with no mercy. No aspect of their lives was spared. It could be about their clothes, cars, family situation, spouse, academic background- absolutely anything! They judged every aspect of people’s lives. So I accepted this as the model for my life. I constantly passed judgements about strangers in my mind every day. I would make a snide note about their ugly shoes, messy hair, odd behavior or personal appearance. It became second nature to me. So second nature, in fact, that I didn’t realize how much it was hurting me. My judgement of others was a reflection of the type of standards I hold for myself and I wasn’t measuring up. I realized that there was something I deeply despised about myself, so I obtain a kind of depraved self-gratification from noting the shortcomings of others. I liked feeling as though I was better than others. But I couldn’t hide from the truth forever, because eventually it seeped into my life in many surprising ways. My relationships took a hit because I tried to hold my friends and partners to the same impossible standards I held myself, my mind became a gas cloud of negativity and spitefulness, and my life halted to a standstill because I was too trapped in my funk of judgementalism, doubt and fear to move forward.
Being judgmental can seem like a petty issue that can easily be fixed but it cannot. It is hardwired into our brains and it can be hard to fight it away. It affects our ability to listen to others, sympathize, try new things, or make friends. It keeps us in a bubble of ‘acceptable things’ that we have deemed appropriate or good enough to keep around. This severely limits us from the life we can be living and the incredible people and things we could experience. So here are my tips for overcoming your judgemental thoughts.
Seek Validation from Yourself
Part of what makes us so judgmental is that deep down, we have not accepted ourselves as we are so we criticize others to fill the hole. We think ‘if I can’t be good enough neither can you.’ Paradoxically, we are also begging for validation from others. We seek praise for the result of our high standards. In order to remove yourself from judgement, you must accept all of yourself. You need to accept your merits and faults the same. You have to learn to release yourself from the constraints you have on yourself. Trust me, it isn’t easy AT ALL. But just begin the process of accepting the things that you don’t like about yourself and you will less and less feel the need to judge others mercilessly.
Practice Impartial Observing
Before you judge someone for a crazy hairdo or eccentric clothes, step back and realize that you don’t actually know anything about this person. All these are are materials on their body and the people are just people like you. You know nothing about this person’s life, past experiences, feelings, family life, interests or anything. You are literally in the worst place to judge that person because you don’t have enough information to accurately come to a conclusion. So practice simply observing things without placing too much judgement on them. If it helps, try thinking of all the good things that person could embody. But my challenge to you is to simply observe. Sit at a park bench or coffee shop and watch the passerby without passing judgment.
Judgmental people get off on feeling superior to others and will find any sort of evidence to back up this claim. Remind yourself that you are no better than they are and they are no better than you. You are both human beings trying to find your way in the world and to cope with the pain in your lives. Try to give things to others or put yourself in a position where you come second like when you volunteer.
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
Only certain people will get into the best colleges, have the best jobs or be able to afford the best clothes, so it’s easy to feel competitive. We live in a competitive society after all. But competitiveness is not going to get you from A to Z. Unfortunately, life is too complex for that so stop comparing every aspect of yourself to others. You are your own person with a unique combination of interests, skills and successes. So do yourself a favor and stop comparing yourself to others! Their success is not your failure and vice versa. All that matters is that you’re impressed by your skills and accomplishments. Period.