Perhaps you are this person, or you might know people who do this...judge other people's lives, say mean or nasty things about them, and/or scrutinize their decisions/actions on a regular basis. Some of us do this regularly, and some of us have our moments. Either way, the root of the issue could be coming from the same place. Being negative and pessimistic through judging others, can feel good/cathartic in the moment when you are upset and sad inside. However, in the long term, it does not add to the quality of your life. Instead, it makes you miserable, and harms your connection with others.
So what is this about?
Reasons for judging could vary depending on the severity and degree to which you engage in this hurtful behavior, but in general, it comes down to the level of security and satisfaction within you. When you lack self compassion – the ability to empathize with yourself and honestly address your fears and issues without judgement, then you lack the ability to give others the benefit of the doubt. Seeing an opportunity to judge someone else is RIPE for this person because of their internal dissatisfaction. For this person, seeing their internal insecurity and dissatisfaction can be difficult because of the years of defense mechanisms they have put in place to avoid acknowledging such issues. Such coping mechanisms include judging or deflecting insecurity onto other people.
You don’t have to be this way. You don’t have to be in pain and bring pain to others in order to cope. There IS a way out. This starts with learning how to be kind to ourselves in the same way that we wish others would. When we take care of ourselves – when we are KIND to ourselves – we are a better version of ourselves to the world. Again, this wonderful selfishladies paradox in action – being good to others starts FIRST with us being kind/good/understanding/patient to ourselves. The inverse is not true. Being kind to others first, does not translate into kindness to yourself. Giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt translates into the willingness and ability to give to others. Conversely, giving others the benefit of the doubt first, does not translate into the willingness or ability to give it to ourselves.
So, how do we do this? There are two approaches to having compassion for ourselves, and giving ourselves the benefit of the doubt, in order to then give this to others.
The first is to let your judgement of others be your guide. Instead of shaming yourself for having these thoughts, let them be your cue that it is time to turn your attention to yourself. This is what that might sound like:
“Oh, I just realized how harsh I was judging that person without having information or cause for being so harsh. Let me be curious about that rather than harsh:
Is there something going on within me that is dissatisfied or triggered right now?
Am I being harsh or critical of myself without knowing it?
What are my insecurities that are lending themselves to being critical of others?
What might my judgments of others deep down be saying about me?”
Use these prompts to try and get after what your unmet needs are. It takes willingness to be vulnerable with yourself to uncover these issues.
The second way you can change how judgmental you are toward others, is to identify when you are taking things personally. Notice when you are being impatient with others and honestly check in with yourself about if you are taking something they said or did personally. We tend to take behaviors personally even when said behavior has nothing to do with us. Recognize your negativity and your judgment and talk back to it kindly; with patience and understanding. Talk to yourself as though you were a friend talking to you - this might sound like:
“It's ok to look toward another negatively and have a gut reaction to them, but it does not have to last. They are going through something as are you, but you get to decide how you spend your time and how you talk about others. You are a considerate person deep down, so let's figure out if your current behavior is in line with this version of you or working against you? You can choose how you think and talk about others and just because you may have been negative does not mean in this moment that has to continue”
Try that on for size and see if how you relate to others afterwards has shifted, even if ever so slightly.