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How We Judge Others Is How We Judge Ourselves

“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.” ~Sri Chinmoy

Oh yeah, this has been a big one for me. Huge.

I’ve had a long, tedious journey toward recognizing that many of my thoughts were based in judgments of others. I didn’t realize it for years.

I used to think I had strong opinions, was decisive, and able to “evaluate” others. I “got” people. I understood where they were coming from, their motivations, and why they said what they said and did what they did.

I was a highly skilled definer, and an even better dismisser. Once I’d figured you out, my opinions were set in stone. I didn’t leave much room for changing those opinions either. Once I’d decided, that was it. You were what you were, according to me.

With the benefit of time and hindsight, I’ve come to realize that since I was actively embracing a life of personal growth (or “working on my stuff,” as I like to call it), I somehow felt that gave me free rein to comment on what others were doing.

I’ve also realized this is a common behavior in those of us on the personal growth path.

When we are seeking change for ourselves, we sometimes feel we can comment on (or seek change for) the lives of others—about how they should behave, about what is acceptable for them, and so on.

I had some inexplicable sense of entitlement that validated my judgmental parts in behaving this way.

This criticizing behavior was, for the most part, restricted to my thoughts. Outwardly, I was generally a pretty nice gal—helpful, polite, and funny; and I had plenty of friends who liked spending time with me.

Internally though, my thoughts could be pretty acidic. The judgmental parts of me were constantly criticizing, sizing up, dismissing, and diminishing those around me.

I slowly started to become more knowledgeable about the internal criticizers as my awareness grew and my judgments diminished in response to some other issues I was tackling.

While that was a huge relief, I started to realize just how much mental space and energy I was giving those internal judges. I was shocked to recognize just how bossy and mean they could be.

I also began to wonder how much criticism these internal judges had of me. And man, was I amazed when I started paying attention. I realized I had a pretty constant stream of internal dialogue that was just as critical of me as it was of the outside world.

That was a revelation!

This really clarified, in a new way, the idea that “the outer world is a reflection of the inner world.”

Generally, our judgment of others is an extension of self-judgment; and the self-judgment is so ingrained, so normal, we don’t even recognize it.

This was an intense experience of pulling back the curtain. It also signified the beginning of a great leap forward, in terms of transforming the critical internal dialogue, which, in turn (and in time), transformed and far diminished the judgment of others.

Here are some tools I used to transform the judgments that you may find helpful:

1. When you catch yourself having a defining thought about someone, step back and ask, “What do I really know about this person?”

Often, the answer is a version of “not very much.” This behavior acts as a pattern interrupt, and forces you to stop and consider where the judgment is coming from.

2. When you hear yourself criticizing someone to others, stop and take a moment to come up with one thing you like about that person. Then praise them, out loud, for that quality.

This is another version of a pattern interrupt, and is also a reminder that they too are human, and like us all, have both attractive and not-so-attractive qualities.

3. When you find yourself in one of those incessant loop thought patterns of judgment about someone else’s behaviors, ask the hard question: Do I myself exhibit this same behavior or attitude that I judge in this person?

Almost always, the answer is yes (not that one always comes to that yes easily). You probably already know that the stuff that irritates us the most about others tends to be attributes we don’t necessarily realize we ourselves have. This was the single most difficult tool I used. It was also probably the most effective.

I am pleased to report that I have massively reduced the judgmental behaviors, toward others and myself. I still consider that it’s an ongoing journey, which helps me in recognizing any rogue criticisms pretty quickly.

Most importantly, I have a completely different perspective on other people than I used to.

Keeping this in mind has been helpful; if you’re struggling with judgment of others, perhaps you will find it useful as well:

For us to judge another, we’d have to know everything about that person—their complete personality, their personal history, their belief systems, their culture, their religion, their family background, and all their past experiences, for starters.

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that we could possibly know all of this about another person.

At that point, since we would see that person in their totality—and we would see that all the decisions that person makes, and all the experiences they are creating, are theirs to make and create as they see fit, to support their lovely, complex, ever-changing growth process—there’d be nothing to judge.

So since we can’t possibly know all those things about another, let’s just skip right up to the “nothing to judge” part, okay?

It’s a deal.

Photo by just_a_name_thingie

Avatar of Maria Moraca

About Maria Moraca

Maria Moraca is a conscious integrated channeler. She and Zurac (her “entity dude”) work in tandem; Maria encourages empowerment and Zurac offers insight and clarification to life path questions. Her website and blog are at mariachanneling.com.

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  • Alesha Chilton

    I really enjoyed this post! Very insightful and true! I always say that people who hate others hate themselves the most. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://www.ithuit.com/ Perry Hua

    We judge others because we feel there’s something about them that reflects in us, and we feel envy.

  • oliviasy

    We create disappointments in ourselves because we have expectations on others. Thank you for the article.

  • Yvette Bowlin

    That which we see in others is a reflection of what we carry on our own shoulders. As ‘A Course in Miracles’ says, we can’t judge others without judging ourselves. Good lesson, Maria.

  • PSC

    We must remember that we all have judgment, and its a part of us that isn’t going away. Its important to remember that it is a “self” within us. So sometimes just acknowledging that “self” and giving it voice is good. This is not to say that I don’t think we should all work on the incessant loop that goes on in our heads…because we should! and this article has some great tips on exactly how to do that. Thank you! .

  • lv2terp

    This is a wonderful post, thank you! I felt like I was reading about my journey in being judgemental, and trying to overcome that massive dis-ease in my mind, heart, and spirit. Wonderful tips, and very true words of wisdom! :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/sethpontiff Seth Pontiff

    Well said and very easy to understand. Unfortunately, some people just can’t do this for themselves. The hardest part is admitting to yourself and recognizing that you might judge others way too much.

  • KR

    Is this the same concept if you’re more judgemental of yourself than others?

  • Quibbles

    I like the posts on this site, this one included, but I think that they often oversimplify things a bit too much for me. Maybe it would be too obfuscating, but without caveats some of these ideas could actually do harm. For example, I was married to an abusive narcissist. I refused to accept either of those negative labels for 17 years, and instead constantly turned my discomfort with him inward- as this article encourages- and over time this did tremendous damage to my self-esteem and health. Sometimes people need to be defined in order to protect ourselves, feel greater compassion, *or truly forgive them*.

    One other little quibble- “When we are seeking change for ourselves, we sometimes feel we can comment on (or seek change for) the lives of others—about how they should behave, about what is acceptable for them, and so on.”

    Isn’t that precisely what this article is doing, albeit in a fairly gentle way? Isn’t it presumptuous to assume that judging others is always harmful to the ones doing it? Some people (such as narcissists) have very, very different minds.

    The world is just so much more complicated (at least for me) than these articles and comments embrace. The most helpful book I’ve ever read for diminishing judgmental impulses was “Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me”. Very illuminating!

  • Mariachanneling

    Thanks for taking the time to comment Alesha, cheers!

  • Mariachanneling

    Thanks for reading!

  • Mariachanneling

    You’re welcome!

  • Mariachanneling

    Thanks Yvette :-) Not a new concept but always a timely one…

  • Mariachanneling

    Thank you, I’m glad you liked it! Enjoy your journey ;-)

  • Mariachanneling

    That’s definitely tough to do Seth, at least it was for me! I’m glad to be over that particular hurdle.

  • Mariachanneling

    I can only speak for me, and the issue was I WAS more judgmental of myself then others, but it took me a while to notice it. Thanks for your question!

  • Mariachanneling

    I’m sorry you had that experience, that must have been difficult. This article was simply written from my own personal experience, and I included some suggestions that were very helpful for me and that I hope help others as well. Cheers!

  • Anne

    I don’t believe that recognising someone as being wrong for you, or as damaged, is the same as making value judgements about them. You managed to define your marriage partner eventually, which was a healthy thing for you to do and I am so happy to read that you found your way out of it. (I lived with a partner with Narcissistic Personality Disorder for 5 years.) But what I think this article is suggesting is that we can define someone, without judging them as being any less ‘worthy’ than we are.

  • http://twitter.com/AuroratheRose Aurora Rose Truth

    Let’s just skip to the nothing to judge part, okay? – so cool :)

  • Mariachanneling

    Thanks, I think so too :-)

  • http://twitter.com/AuroratheRose Aurora Rose Truth

    :)

  • Sereena

    Thank you Maria, I found this very helpful.

    I have suffered my whole life with being way too judgmental of others. Its only lately that I have been learning about how the ego works and the damage it can cause that I have been seriously paying attention to my judgmental ways and trying to correct them. When I had a long, hard look at myself and started to identify the negative traits that I use every day, all directly from the ego and not from Self, I was staggered!

    So I’m looking for any tips and hints to redirect my thoughts and feelings so that they come from the heart, less from the head. Your article was very helpful, as are so many articles on Tiny Buddha. Its a fabulous resource.

  • Mariachanneling

    I agree, I love this site! Glad you found the article helpful too!

  • Naim

    Insightful post, I do empathise strongly with the post, as i have realised this lesson in the last 12 months having been on this path for long time an wanting to open an awken an understand my self on all levels of being.

    However for me, I believe there wil always be the judge within, the reason why i state this we all judge based on our five senses which we filter through to our mind, we judge based what I called the different states Of ( I ) be it through our Intution, intellect, intelligience, irrational, inspiration, and so on. we also have our subpersonalitys which we have had since our childhood and I know that can be distorted an which could make us narcisstic an ego driven.
    to explain what i mean
    So if im walikng down the road an see a large dog, my intution may kick in or my fear may kick in so i need to judge whether i need to fight flight or freeze.

    and in saying that I need to honour myself in that moment what i need to do.

    an personally speaking the difference between judge and judgement is to judge in that moment as i explain in the above, and to make a judgement is to say its good or bad according to your values belifes culture etc.

    I hope i explain this properly has this is my first time responding in an article.

  • http://twitter.com/AaronThearle Aaron Thearle

    What happens when one judges somebody for a quality not found in oneself? They judge them for something that they are morally opposed to or disgusted by. What effect can this have on the person mentally? Do we still end up disliking ourselves? I imagine it does not create a positive feeling in the mind and over time this can lead to a resentment towards people, if it happens often. Thank you for the insightful post.

  • http://twitter.com/BigZenBlog Big Zen

    There is a saying – ‘we see the world not as it is but as we are’.

  • Narwhaltat

    Blessings to you! Your words serendipitously affirm a shift I had just this evening about someone I work with. He’s the head of a school that has hired my organisation to manage a project in school – and my relationship with him has become more and more strained. I’ve felt criticized by him, and have been feeling more and more defensive, and more and more critical of who he is and how he is, both in my head, and outloud to others. Sinking further and further into a stuck victim place.

    Things have come to a head this week, and I’m considering whether it is best for me to leave and find another job. At the same time, I’ve been doing all sorts of journalling, meditating, visualising, EFT – you name it, I’ve tried it! Doing my best to sit with and feel my feelings and trying to stay kind to myself while doing some uncomfortable soul-searching about what lesson I need to learn from all this .. including how we might be similar. I found myself asking myself if I was even willing to consider seeing him any differently .. and found that I am .. and that felt like a big shift. And then I read your post. Thank you! Just what I needed. I’m going to consciously look for the positives in him .. and at the same time give myself the appreciation I’ve been hoping for from him.

  • Mariachanneling

    So glad you found this helpful, sounds like great timing. Gotta love it when you make stuff like that happen, eh?

  • Katie

    I feel very connected to these words and actions, this really spoke to me. I needed this. Thank you!

  • Jennifer

    people loooove to judge. All I have to say is have met the most horrible people in school, workplace and public. Learn to love, live to give and just remember we are all the same but are loved as a whole. I forgive all the bs on the internet and the person behind my window of oz. byyyyyyeeeee byeeeeeee.
    I am happy being me a single, 40 year old woman whom is a old maid.
    seeeeeeeee yaaaaaaah!

  • Μιχάλης

    Thank you so much for this post. It helps me a lot.

  • Soumya

    Hi, I am Soumya,people around me are critizising, joking and judging me the way I look. I look younger than my age (I am 30 I still look like 17).I am a mother of 8year old child.They are telling me that I am not her mother,

  • kavin paker

    very helpful for me and that I hope help others as well. Cheers
    Hotel Munchen