Being judgmental is a very seductive pastime because it gives us a temporary feeling of superiority; yet the price we pay is an armoured heart and a permanently negative mindset.
What you focus on expands; so if you pay attention to what you don’t like about another person’s behaviour they will show you more of the same; and so the cycle of negativity perpetuates.
If your judgmental behaviour is affecting your happiness, there are steps you can take to reduce this habit and in turn, increase your happiness and the happiness of those around you.
ONE: Stop Judging Yourself
Ironically, those who are very critical and judgemental of others are also very critical of themselves. Your low self-esteem may be clouding your own judgment and causing you to project these negative feelings out into the world around you.
Would you speak to your friends the way you speak to yourself? Probably not; yet it’s a good opportunity to wake up and see that your self-judgment only serves to perpetuate your feelings of low self-worth.
I’m not suggesting you stop taking responsibility for your own actions. We need to use both wisdom and compassion with ourselves. I’m suggesting you pay attention to what your inner critic is saying without getting lost in the story.
Try to catch yourself during a moment of self-criticism. When you notice it happening, say the word out loud: ’judging’. This wakes you up from the perpetuation of negative thoughts that keep you stuck in self-aversion. The less you judge yourself harshly the less likely you will be to judge others harshly.
TWO: Let Go of Your Need to Be Right
Judging other people comes from our ego. Deep down our ego wants us to feel better about ourselves by somehow making others around us appear less happy, worse off or wrong.
When we put other people down, we create a sense of ‘self’ and ‘other’, where the other is ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’. The ego has a vested interest in creating this division.
When you make another person wrong by your actions or words, it doesn’t make you right; it is simply a proliferation of false thoughts that keeps you disconnected from other human beings. Let go of the need to defend your mental position, open your mind and you heart will open in the process.
THREE: Use Your Words Wisely
When we’re bored, judging others is almost an irresistible pastime. The pull towards a delicious bit of gossip as so strong it often takes us by surprise. Talking about other people is a game we play to distract ourselves from our own mundane existence.
Try this exercise for just one day: Whenever you feel compelled to talk about another person, imagine that they are in the room with you.
Is what you are about to say something they would like to hear? Is it something you would say to them if they were there?
I guarantee that doing this will eliminate 90% of your conversations. Boring as that may sound it shows you how much of your speech is unnecessary, unhelpful and potentially harmful.
Notice when you are filling the space with unnecessary words and recognise that this is your own way of trying to fill a deeper need.
FOUR: Keep Your Motivations PureIf you want to stop being judgmental it can be helpful to examine your motivation before speak. For example, if you are judging another person, do you truly have their best interests at heart? Whether you are speaking to another person or about them, ask yourself the following questions regarding what you are about to say:
- Is it true?
- Is it helpful?
- Is it kind?
Sometimes what we say may indeed be true; but it may not be kind and therefore it definitely will not be helpful to you or the other person.
We all want to be happy and above all, we need to connect with other people. Being judgemental can relieve boredom and dissatisfaction in your own life in the short term, yet it creates barriers and in the end, only creates even more dissatisfaction.
So clean up your language and clean up your energy and you will create more happiness wherever you go.