By: Hana Hounaine
One of the most critical acts most of us are guilty of is the act of judging others. I could never pretend that I haven’t been guilty of judging others. In fact, we all have. I think it’s safe to say that it’s a built-in method all humans have or perhaps we develop throughout life because of other build-in methods. We all judge people and I am no exception. The question, however, is not to ask whether we judge others or not, but to recognize whether we are doing it and avoid it as much as possible.
I’ve learned to recognize that it is a sign of something harmful and dangerous. The act of judging others is not as bad or ‘negative’ as it is ‘harmful’ because it can actually harm others. It’s not only the act of judging others that is harmful, but being judgmental in itself has underlying causes and situations that are actually detrimental to those judging and they don’t even know it.
Here are a few of these underlying hurtful causes:
- When one judges another, he/she is being ignorant of what the other person is going through – judging without understanding the situation.
- Having unrealistic expectations of other people
- The belief that one is superior to other people
- Lack of gratitude
- Being self-centered
- Rather than being curious, he/she closes off all learning
- He/she can’t really help the situation from a place of judgment
I’ve learned a few ways to stop myself from the act of judging others by raising a red flag, asking myself a few questions and working on myself. When we are aware that we are judging others, that’s when we should see it as a red flag. It’s not horrible to judge, but it’s a good sign that other things are harming you and others around once you judge.
I was never a judgmental person and never saw myself as judging people, until I realised that judging others isn’t limited to one or two acts, it’s actually the act of complaining about someone you feel angry or frustrated at or dismissive of. There are many symptoms that signify whether you are judging others or not, such as gossiping, ignoring, jumping to conclusions, etc. Rather than feeling bad about ourselves, it’s important we learn why we are judging others. Ask yourself the following:
- Why am I judging?
- What expectations do I have about this person that are unrealistic?
- What is this person actually going through?
- Can I find out more? Perhaps be there for that person?
- What can I actually appreciate about this person (try to find three positive traits)?
- Can I put myself in the other person’s shoes for a minute?
- Was I ever going through something similar?
After answering all these questions, we can allocate our thoughts trying to help others, finding a way to help by either being a good listener, offering advice and guidance, a smile, a hug, etc. It’s always important to remember that we are all on the same boat, trying to get by in life. Let’s try to stay humble and remember that we can never really help others or ourselves from a place of judgment. Once we can let go of judgment and learn to accept ourselves and others with empathy, we can actually be happy.