07 Sep Is being judgemental bringing you down?
In last week’s blog we talked about ‘perfect’ [you can read it here] being one of the worst standards ever. I trust that you gave yourself permission to be human and be the best possible version of you last week instead of striving for an impossible goal ☺
Are you being judgemental?
Part of the trap of perfection is that you can become judgemental both of yourself and of the people around you. It’s easy to make snap judgements about things, situations and people, but it doesn’t actually make them correct. How many times have you made an instant decision about an event or a person only to discover later that you were wrong and then felt bad about it? It’s happened to me for sure.
When you judge yourself or others harshly or unfairly it damages the relationship you have with yourself, your own self-esteem, self-worth and the people who were judged.
“When someone judges you, it isn’t actually about you. It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs.” Lulu
I judged someone!
The idea for this blog was sparked when I listened to a podcast about being judgemental on a long motorway journey. The podcaster was asking her listeners to score themselves out of ten as to how judgemental we thought we were. I admit, I didn’t know where to start nor did I think I was judgemental.
Just at that point, a driver swerved in and out of the traffic lanes ahead to exit the slip road. Red brakes lights flashed, horns blasted and he nearly missed the exit! I remember thinking, how dangerous he was driving and wondered why he was putting other people at risk on the road. Argh! I judged the driver even though I had no idea what he was thinking or why he did what he did. Although it wasn’t brilliant driving, who was I to judge?
It’s not good to judge
Write this sentence down so that you remember it and can revisit it often.
“The moment that you judge someone you lose the ability to influence them and appreciate their gifts and that includes when you judge yourself too.”
With this sentence in mind, when you next catch yourself in the moment of judging, hold it for a second and change the judging thought to one of curiosity. Think, ‘I wonder what would make such a great human do something like that or say something like that’.
Rather than judging the heck out of someone and giving them a label, try to support them instead. Even if they do something that goes against your values and standards, or it annoys, offends or just plain irritates you, just stop for a moment and be curious. It’s the easiest thing in the world to criticise but it will use more of your energy and it will start to pull you down too.
Have you ever thought something similar following a situation?
- He didn’t say good morning to me, he’s so rude
- She didn’t offer me a drink, she’s so selfish
- He got home from work last night and just sat in front of the TV, he is so lazy
- She’s always putting more lipstick on, she’s so vain
- He’s always fooling around, he’s just so shallow, what a show-off
- She just threw that whole pack away just because she didn’t like it, she’s so wasteful
… and on and on and on …
On the other hand, have you ever felt as though you were being judged? Maybe you said or did something and you received a few disapproving or strange looks. Maybe you had a negative comment from someone about the behaviour they had witnessed (or thought they had).
Think carefully about these next points.
- Does it make you feel superior in some way when you judge someone?
- Does it allow you to feel better about yourself?
It’s interesting because it doesn’t feel good when you judge yourself so why should it feel good when you judge somebody else? In fact, it usually doesn’t, so maybe the assumption made in the judgement isn’t correct and perhaps there’s a different reason for the behaviour you witnessed. Instead, look for the positive intention of the person and the action.
“When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.” Earl Nightingale
Don’t judge a book by its cover
I know a wonderful young gentleman called Andrew. I didn’t think he was wonderful when I first met him (I probably judged him too quickly) and neither did anyone who attended the same youth course he enlisted.
When I took the time to be curious about Andrew, I saw an amazing individual who had fallen into the trap of displaying unhelpful behaviours as coping mechanisms because of the judgements he’d been subjected to. You can read about Andrew’s story here. [add link]
If you have ever heard of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) then you’ll know that one of the many beliefs is that people are not their behaviours. A behaviour is an outward symptom of an unmet need so when people display negative behaviours it’s usually their way of coping. Showing that person support – and not being judgemental – is the best solution to help them get rid of their negative behaviours.
When you replace the act of judging with curiosity you set people up to win.
“Most people who are criticizing and judging haven’t even tried what you failed at.” David Goggins
Exercise – turn your inner judge into a curious expeditionist
Is there someone in your life who doesn’t always live up to your standards or values for some reason?
Fetch out your journal, grab a piece of paper and a pen or open the notes on your phone or tablet.
- Jot down the name of the person (or people)
- Who are they and how did they fall short of the mark in your eyes that caused you to judge them?
- What labels did you give them? Annoying, lazy, stupid, thoughtless…
- What judgements and assumptions did you make about them before they even gave you a chance to show you who they really were?
- What else could have really been going on for them?
I judged the guy on the motorway for his seemingly dangerous driving. Well, it was dangerous, but I judged him for being reckless, inconsiderate and for being a low life but what else could have been going on?
Maybe his wife had gone in to labour and he was thinking ‘oh my gosh I have to be at the hospital right now’. Maybe he had a call from someone who’d just had an accident and he needed to go and be with them as soon as possible.
You don’t know what circumstances occurred to cause someone to react in a certain way and sometimes it’s best to give people the benefit of the doubt. You don’t have to understand or question the situation, but if you do, ask how you could support them by setting them up to win instead of labelling them.
“Be curious, not judgemental.” Walt Whitman
Choose the life you want to lead
As you move forward into the next week, be kind instead of judging and see what a difference it makes to how people react around you and how the relationship with yourself, your family and friends improves.
For more information and inspiration check out more blog articles. Please do leave your comments, questions and findings and share any hints or tips with other young people. I’d love to hear your thoughts and of course answer any questions that you have.
Until next time, be curious instead of being judgemental ☺