Can Being Less Judgmental Improve Your Life?
What springs to mind when we think of the word ‘judgmental’?
To be honest, it is one of those words which tends to provoke a strong reaction in most people – and usually, that reaction is negative.
Being judgmental means that you are scrutinizing others. There are a lot of things we can judge people on, whether it’s their clothes, their hair, their relationship choices, or their favorite flavor of ice cream; and to some degree or another, we are all guilty of judging.
How many times have we looked at someone and cast an immediate judgmental eye over their choice of dress sense? What about when we hear someone speak and we disagree with what comes out of their mouth, so we judge them, casting a critical eye over everything they are saying? (And most likely over everything else about them too).
Judgment in Society & Television
Recently, I’ve started watching an old favorite show of mine that I first watched about 15 years ago when it first hit the screens and I loved it for its quirky humor and intense drama.
But watching it this time around, I noticed things that bothered me that had not before. They all revolved around being judged in society. Perhaps it had not bothered me before because I was younger and more into the show than the messages behind it, or perhaps I’d just not been paying attention. But either way, this time around I was struck by the amount of judgement within the storylines.
I was repelled at the judgement one of the main characters showed towards her son because he was gay. I was repulsed at the judgement another woman showed towards a boy her daughter was dating just because he had a tongue piercing. I was horrified at how one lady criticized her friend for standing up in church, asking questions about faith just because it embarrassed her social status. At the same time, I was revolted at my own judgement – that I was judging them for being judgmental!
I still love the show, of course. It’s funny, insightful and addictive. And it very cleverly highlights excellent examples of the type of judgement we face in society.
Why Do We Judge Others?
We judge others when they don’t conform to our own personal standards or the standards society sets for us. The key part to remember here is that these standards are all man-made – which means if we created them, we can change them.
Judgement usually leads to something negative, which is a prime example of the ‘herd mentality’. It’s that whole, “If you don’t look like us, act like us or think like us, then you’re not one of us!” This leads to the one being judged being cast out and excluded.
Yes, some judgement is good. Of course, it is. We need judgement in order to determine what is right and wrong. Knowing the difference between right and wrong is important and prevents a lot of terrible things from happening, as well as ensure that justice is served where necessary.
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But when we judge others based on how they look, how they act, how they think, when we judge them simply because they are different from us, there is very rarely anything positive to come out of it. We are basically saying, “You’re not like me and that’s not right.”
Consider, how is it right to think like that? We are all individuals made up of our own quirks, differences, and beliefs. We were not meant to be the same, so why are there areas of society that demand we are?
How to Stop Being So Judgmental
Being judgmental doesn’t mean we’re bad people. We’re programmed to be judgmental by a society that does not embrace individuality. Of course, times are very different today than they were in the past, but judgement is still rife.
However, bit by bit, we can turn society into one of acceptance, keeping a good balance between judgement and understanding. Below are some ways we can practice being less judgmental.
How do you combat being too judgmental? By being more empathetic!
If you are an empath, then this will come naturally to you. Empathy is the ability to put yourself in another’s shoes and really feel what it is like to be them. Empathy dissolves judgement and promotes greater understanding. It really is an admirable quality to have and brings out the best in people.
You can practice empathy by catching yourself whenever you find yourself being judgmental. If you’re walking down the street and see someone who looks different and you automatically think, “What is she wearing?” or you see someone on public transport who is scowling and glaring at everyone and you think, “What a horrible face!” take a step back and think, “I wonder why that person is unhappy” or “That person dresses differently and that’s OK.”
This leads to greater empathy and you will come to realize that just because someone is different from you, it does not necessarily mean they are a threat to you. Empathy is all about getting beneath the surface, not focusing solely on the surface itself.
Mingle Outside Your Comfort Zone
Judgement usually stems from things we don’t understand. If we judge others who look different than us, sound different than us, or act differently than we expect, it’s usually because we know nothing about them or we have a preconceived idea of what they are. The best way to tackle this is to get to know them.
Socialize with people you would usually judge. We may find it frightening or experience aversion to it in the beginning, but in time we may realize that they are humans just like us, with feelings, wounds, vulnerabilities, hopes, and dreams just like we have.
Ask Yourself Why You Need to Judge
If you catch yourself being judgmental, ask yourself why you feel a need to judge. If we are able to examine our own actions and what drives us to act a certain way, we can then take steps to improve ourselves and subsequently help others in the process.
Many people judge without realizing they are doing it, or even the motivation behind it. This can lead to bullying, segregation, hate and other aspects of society which cause so many problems within it. The ability to empathize and not judge others first starts from within.
Often, our desire to judge others stems from our own shadow side – hidden parts of ourselves that we are not willing to face, and so we project it onto others which can lead us to judge and condemn those who subconsciously reminds us of our shadow side. Or negative judgement is due to being programmed a certain way as to how we should look, how we should act, how we should behave. Otherwise, judgement is about having a fear of not fitting in.
No matter the reason, judgement always stems from fear. The question is, do we want this fear to rule us? Or will we be brave and face whatever is generating this judgement within us?
When We Judge Less and Love More, We Become Happier
There’s an obvious correlation: the more judgmental you are, the more miserable you tend to be. This is because if you are constantly judging others you will be in a permanently dissatisfied and unhappy state because there will always be those who you perceive to be different to you. If you live in a world where you cannot accept that others are different, then you will be embroiled in a world of fear and resentment.
The happiness that comes from within is an acceptance of others and the understanding that we are all unique and individual. It is individuality that makes the world a beautiful place, and individuality in itself should be embraced.
No one should have to feel that their individuality is being stifled because they fear being judged by others. We can reach this state of acceptance and empathic understanding when we look within ourselves and find the source of where our judgement is coming from.
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