Why Judging People Makes Us Unhappy

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” ~Henry David Thoreau

A friend of mine likes to joke that dying will be a relief because it will put an end to the “heavy burden of judging” as she calls it. She envisions herself lying in a hospital bed and, moments before death, noticing the ceiling and thinking, “What a hideous green.”

Here’s a modest proposal: Vow that for the rest of the day, you won’t judge your friends and you won’t judge any strangers you happen to see. This would include a friend who’s a non-stop talker; it would include a friend who’s always complaining about his life. It would include the strangers you pass on the street or see in a waiting room.

I call it a modest proposal because I’m not even addressing the issue of self-judgment, let alone BP or Gaddafi. No. I’m just asking you not to judge friends or strangers.

It’s entirely possible you won’t make it past a few minutes without judging someone!

So, why not just “judge away?”

To answer that, let me start by drawing a distinction between judgment and discernment. Discernment means perceiving the way things are, period.

Judgment is what we add to discernment when we make a comparison (implicit or explicit) between how things or people are and how we think they ought to be. So, in judgment, there’s an element of dissatisfaction with the way things are and a desire to have things be the way we want them to be.

Take that talkative friend. To think or speak in a neutral, purely descriptive tone, “She can talk non-stop for 15 minutes,” is an example of discernment—assuming the assessment is accurate, we’re just describing the way things are.

On the other hand, to think or speak in a negative tone, “She can talk non-stop for 15 minutes,” is an example of judgment because that negative tone reveals our dissatisfaction with how she is and our desire for her to be different.

The same analysis applies to the complaining friend. If we say, “He complained about this life the entire evening,” depending on our tone, it could be a neutral observation (discernment) or it could reflect our dissatisfaction with him and our desire for him to be different (a judgment).

Now think about strangers. If you’re like me, there’s almost always a subtle judgment waiting in the wings. “She could stand to lose some weight.” “Doesn’t he know how to pick a tie that goes with a shirt?”

So, again, why not just “judge away”? Recall that in judgment, there’s an element of dissatisfaction with the way things are and a desire to have things (in my examples: people) be the way we want them to be.

So, judgment is just a recipe for suffering: start with our dissatisfaction over how a person happens to be and mix in our desire for them to be otherwise. To make that suffering nice and rich, be sure the desire clings tightly to the dissatisfaction!

It doesn’t mean we have to hang out with someone who talks more than we’d like or who does nothing but complains about his life. But we can make the choice about whether to be with them without judging them. When we do, it feels good; it has that peaceful quality of letting go of clinging to the way we want people to be.

As for those strangers, maybe the woman I saw has a medical condition that results in weight gain, or maybe she eats to deal with uncomfortable feelings. Perhaps the man was wearing the only tie he owns. Judging them did nothing to ease their suffering, and it certainly didn’t ease mine.

Now try this experiment. Think about a couple of friends who annoy you in some way. Can you let them be the way they are without desiring them to be otherwise? Sticking with my two examples, can you open your heart to her talkativeness or to his constant complaining?

Walt Whitman said, “I contain multitudes.” I like to think of the world as containing multitudes. I do this by consciously thinking: “This world is big enough for both the talkative and the untalkative; for both the complainers and the non-complainers.”

Judging is such a well-ingrained response that I hardly notice when I’m doing it, so I know I have a lifetime of conditioning to overcome. But it’s worth it because when I don’t judge, I feel the benefits in both my mind and my body: I feel as light as a feather.

I truly hope I can shed that heavy burden of judging before that moment in the hospital bed when I’m staring at the green ceiling!

Photo by kudumomo

About Toni Bernhard

Toni is the author of the Nautilus Gold Medal winning How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers. She can be found online at

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  • I realize I judge people to much. It always feels as though it is just what I think about them, but why do I have to be negative?

    Accept things, situations and people for who they are. When you try you start to accept which releases all that negative energy you keep putting out.

  • Toni

    Hi Daniel,

    That’s exactly what I was getting at in my piece, especially how we think we’re just being descriptive when, in fact, we’re judging. Thanks for reading.

  • Angela

    Great post. I think you are talking about people I know 🙂 So true. This will be my practice for the next few weeks. Thanks for the push in the right direction.

  • hoo boy…i am so guilty of this…but i vow to make the attempt to give everyone a pass today…including myself…”I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman…man, ain’t it the truth???

  • Judgement is probably one of my biggest issues, I don’t think I was ever this bad but the world gets so overwhelming you find yourself getting overly opinionated. I wish I knew how to stop it.

  • Toni

    Hi Angela,

    It’s a wonderful feeling to know that my post has inspired you to practice non-judging for the next few weeks! Thanks so much. 

  • Toni

    Hi Lisa, 

    Thanks for reading my piece. I love that you’re giving YOURSELF a pass today too! I take that to mean that if you catch yourself judging, you won’t get down on yourself about it. You’ll just mindfully note it and try again. I’m a big fan of “Try Mind.” 

  • Toni

    Hi Robin,

    Thanks for reading my piece. It is hard, that’s for sure. We can find ourselves judging even when we don’t think we are. Just think of it as a practice and when you “goof,’ smile, and start the practice again! My best to you.

  • Anonymous

    One of my favorite quotes is “Be kind; everyone is fighting a hard battle.” (Generally associated with Plato.)
    I try very hard to be non-judgmental or at least catch myself when it begins to happen. It is soooofreeing to let go of judgment of others…

  • Does this include judging people for being judgemental? 

  • Checkpaperlock

    I can directly relate to the example about the complaining friend but I question your suggestion to “let it go” — I myself have a complaining friend and, after reading your article, realize that I “judge” her often for it — not because I desire for her to stop complaining, but because her constant complaining puts me in a negative state of mind and rubs off on me eventually.  In this instance, isn’t my judgement a form of protection for myself for my own wel-being? Is it healthy to disregard my judgements and continue hanging out with this person so as to not desire her to be any other way?

  • linnaeab

    What you suggest is wonderful. Thinking fewer judgmental thoughts helps me feel more at ease.I would like to add that expressing oneself neutrally often results in the other person getting upset. Why? Because they interpret neutral words as judgement. Perhaps they are judging themselves, and projecting that act of judging on the one who is not judging, but merely communicating.Perhaps they grew up around judgmental people, so that they have no experience receiving neutral feedback. I worked for 2 years for an organization whose manager interpreted any feedback as personal criticism. This happened weekly. It did not matter who spoke to her. It was seen as criticism. I decided to only give her feedback when her action could harm a third person. I was tired of being screamed at for less important matters.For example, the manager asked me to give a deep tissue massage to a 75 year old woman with rheumatoid arthritis, using heating and cooling products. Calmly, with a soft voice I said, I would like to review the medical information so that I don’t inadvertently harm this woman with the treatment. Could I please see her medical records?She would not retrieve the woman’s medical information in her file. I was told to start the massage anyway. I was scolded for not following her orders that were contrary to the organization’s rules, and that were contra-indicated for the health of the client.Soon after that I was fired … because she interpreted my neutral communication about a client as judgement and criticism of her.Even gentle, neutral and calm communication may have unexpected consequences. I continue to be less judgmental because I feel better, and know that it is more caring to the other person.. but it is painful to be this way in a society where projection and drama is rampant.

  • Alexandra

    Acceptance is the way I deal with my judgemental-ism  … I just focus on accepting what I can not change.

  • Anonymous

    I wrote something similar on judging earlier this month on my blog. Didn’t think about the discernment aspect of things. Rather interesting viewpoint.

  • Excellent thoughts, Toni, about discernment vs judgement. I’ve been working on my judgementalism for a while. I’ve found a good path for myself, and maybe it will help others to mention it here. You’d probably call it discerning the positive rather than the negative. As a transition method from being judgemental to ridding myself of it entirely, I decided to make myself jump to good thoughts / judgements instead. For example, I’m sitting in my car, stopped at a stoplight, a pedestrian walks across in front of me, I start thinking stuff like, Geez she could have at least combed her hair today…. Now I catch myself “at it” (that’s the first big step, learning to catch ourselves!), then I switch to looking for something good about her, like, Wow, what a wonderful color her hair is! (or maybe something complimentary about what she’s wearing, etc). Now, if I have to judge, at least it’s a kinder judgement, positive rather than negative.

    So that’s where I am — in transition. This has done more than help me to start eliminating my judgementalism. It’s also got me observing more details about people (not just the first annoying thing), directing myself toward the positive much more often. I’m also feeling much less bugged by people and events. Like, who needs to spend even a second being bugged by what a stranger says, does, wears, whatever, anyway, right?!! What a waste of energy, when we could be putting good energies out there.

  • So how to stop judging?

    Is it just a conscious effort that we have to put in, it is not easy, especially when you have been judging and its been part of you, without your knowing.

  • Toni

    Hi Naga,

    No, it’s not easy because we have to overcome a lifetime of conditioning. Mindfulness practice helps (either in meditation or outside of meditation) because then we’re more likely to identify the thoughts that arise in the mind and then we can (non-judgmentally of course) let them go. Thanks for reading the piece. Warmly, Toni

  • Toni

    Hi Erin,

    Yup. It includes NOT judging people for being judgmental. After all, like us, they’ve been conditioned to judge. Until they see that, they’re not likely to change. All we can do is have compassion for them (as well as for ourselves as we work on this non-judgning practice and come up short now and then!). Thanks for reading the piece. Warmly, Toni

  • Toni

    Hi. I’m glad you liked the discernment point — distinguishing judgment from discernment. Thanks for reading the piece. Warmly, Toni

  • Toni

    Alexandra – I’m with you 100% on that one! Thanks for reading my piece and leaving this helpful comment. Warmly, Toni

  • Toni

    Hi Kate – I love your practice. It’s similar to metta practice as I learned it from the wonderful teacher, Sylvia Boorstein. She teaches exactly what you’re doing — when you catch yourself judging, turn it into a metta moment. Sylvia translates metta as “friendliness” rather than the more common “lovingkindness.” I think her translation works well with your practice. You’ve just inspired me! Thanks so much for reading my piece and commenting. Warmly, Toni

  • Toni

    Hi. Your story is fascinating — how responding neutrally is often taken as a negative judgment by others. Perhaps it just reflects how sensitive all of us are to being judged. We think it’s happening to us when it’s not. I love that you just plain feel better when you’re not judgmental. Me too. Thanks for the comment on my piece. Warmly, Toni

  • Toni

    Hi Liane. Yes, I know that saying and it is attributed to Plato. It’s a wonderfully inspiring quote. Thanks for sharing it. Yes, it is sooo freeing not to judge. Thanks for reading my piece and for your comment on it. Warmly, Toni

  • Toni

    This is a tough situation. I suggest in my piece to “let go” because it’s hard to change others and so continuing to judge a person you cannot change only increases your own suffering. But if she’s a close friend, perhaps you talk to her about how her constant complaining affects your own mood and that it’s very hard for you as a result. If she doesn’t change, I can only speak personally if I were in that situation and that is that I’d try to feel compassion for her suffering — her constant complaining only makes her suffer. So, I recommend compassion over judgment. All my best, Toni

  • confused.

    This is a very helpful article in my journey to stop judging others and eventually stop judging myself. I know that judging is usually derived from something negative within ourselves.I do question though, is it completely wrong to judge ? are there instances when judging is okay? Can judgement create change and eventually turn into something positive? Maybe I do not fully understand the art of being non-judgemental. In that case, I would love to fully understand.
    Thank you kindly for your help.

  • Toni

    I think to some extent, it’s a matter of how we define the words. Judging, as I’m using it, involves this sense of “I’m better than you” (or “You’re better than me”) which only increases everyone’s suffering. Contrast that with what might be called an “assessment” in which we analyze a situation or a person without putting ourselves “above” or “below” another and, based on that assessment, decide to take action — action that will not increase suffering for either party. I hope this is helpful. Thanks for reading and for commenting. Warmly, Toni

  • Hilary

    I think this is an excellent practice in “positive judging”.  I also felt like when I was reading the article that, for me discernment can lead to judgement out of concern and that the judgement is more about trying to find a way to help a friend. But, when I think about that, it is presumptuous that my friend would want my help or that I think they need it.  But, my “judgement” is seeded in love for my friend.  Is this still judgement?

  • Freedomizrizing

    So I was wondering (aimlessly… :D) while reading this comment if you could judge everyone and everything as completely worthless scum.. but equally. No scum being above or below any other scum. I found that you can’t have the concept of worthless without the concept of worth, so yeah. There’s always a comparison going on. 

  • Toni

    Hmm. I guess as a Buddhist, I don’t think of anyone as completely worthless scum, so it’s hard for me to respond to that part of your comment. You’re right, there’s always this comparison going on though because we have to use words to communicate. Maybe that’s why Zen masters just thwack their students with a stick to wake them up 🙂

  • Toni

    Hi Hilary,

    I think we can tangled up in our use of language (at least I can). We have to use words to communicate but they are subject to so many different meanings and interpretations. When you’re acting out of concern to help a friend, I see that as compassionate action (action to reduce suffering) and I think it can be done non-judgmentally. Your ability to see that the friend needs help comes under the category of discernment to me, not judgment in that you’re just assessing “the way things are.” 

  • Jhnottingham

    I have a question…can anyone describe to me the reason why people become so judgemental. I have a person in my life who behaves exactly in the way that was described in the article above. She only sees the flaws in people in both their actions and appearances. She is extremly critical of everybody including both strangers and her family. She is always right and everyone else is always wrong. Everyone must do the things and make the choices that she deems correct or she will make you feel like you don’t know what you are talking about and you are wrong. Those choices can be anything from something as ridiculous as you are buying the wrong brand name canned fruits, picking the wrong color to paint a room in your house, picking the wrong colored flowers to plant around your house, to what kind of toothpaste I should buy. She will sound her displeasure to your decision or idea in a disappointing sigh that says “Go ahead and make that choice but it is wrong, I know best”,  Most times I will change my decision and do what she wants me to do just because if I don’t, I feel too bad about the decisions that I make. Sounds all pretty crazy doesn’t it? Bottom line is if I say its black, she says its white and if I say it is white she says it is black. It seems no matter what decision I make about anything she will say the opposite just so she can be right and make me feel wrong. And then if you don’t aggree with her and do things her way she will make you feel bad and then make you feel like you are hurting her. As a result for the most part I have to do things her way just to keep the peace between us. My whole house is basically decorated her way because she makes me feel like I can’t do anything right and then I have to do things her way because if I don’t, the price I have to pay emotionally for not doing things her way is just too great. It is driving me crazy. I have been trying to cope with this for years but it is still hard to deal with. Maybe if someone could tell me the reasons for this behavior it could help me try to deal with this. I have thought about going to counseling just so I can learn sme coping skills to live with this in my life. She is also very mean to people out in public and I find myself constantly having to be extra nice to people to make up for her rudeness and her hostility. Its really beginning to wear me down. Any advice or explanations for her behavior?  Thanks!

  • Jhnottingham

    Hi Toni, I just wrote the question to you above and wanted to add something. I found your article from a friend on facebook who had posted it. I am a bit new to using the computor and didn’t realize that I should have just directed my question towards you. I am new at writting on these blogs. I just jumped right away on this one because it hit so close to home and I am looking for answers. Do you have any particular books that you have written that would be helpful for me to read inorder to deal with my problem of having someone extremely judgmental in my life?  Thank you so much!!!

  • Toni

    Hello Jhnottingham. I can’t tell you why your friend is so judgmental. It could be a behavior she learned as a child which means she’s deeply conditioned to be that way and unless she wants to change, she’s likely to stay the same no matter what you do. We can’t easily change the way others behave. We can learn to cultivate compassion for them (imagine how much she’s suffering to be so judgmental) and we can be sure we’re taking good care of ourselves by protecting ourselves from any abuse from them.

    I’ve written a book called “How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and their Caregivers.” It was written for those dealing with illness or other medical problems but many people who are healthy tell me they love it too because illness can serve as a metaphor for the suffering that’s a component of everyone’s life (the basis of the Buddha’s first noble truth). There’s a lot in the book about handling difficult people in our lives. I can’t say if it’s the right book for you if you don’t have any health issues. I just know that people, healthy or not, are benefitting from it.

    You could look at the Amazon link for it and read what people have said and see if it looks right for you. It’s the only book I’ve written which is why, since you asked if I’ve written a book that would be helpful, it’s the one I’m describing. Here’s the link:

    Warmest wishes,

  • Jhnottingham

    Hi Toni,  You are so very kind to have responded so quickly to my question. Just what you have written in your first paragragh has given me a lot to think about.  And thank you for the suggestion of your book “How to Be Sick”. I feel that it will give me a lot of insite into many different issues. I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome about three years ago after ruling out many other possibilities. It is the only conclusion my Doctor could finally arrive at. I am currently trying to overcome it everyday through diet and exercise. Now I am thinking that maybe just a good dose of “helpful information”  will guide and help me to deal with certain pressures in my life.  Thank you very much! I am anxious to read your book!

  • Jhnottingham

    Hi Toni,  You are so very kind to have responded so quickly to my question. Just what you have written in your first paragragh has given me a lot to think about.  And thank you for the suggestion of your book “How to Be Sick”. I feel that it will give me a lot of insite into many different issues. I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome about three years ago after ruling out many other possibilities. It is the only conclusion my Doctor could finally arrive at. I am currently trying to overcome it everyday through diet and exercise. Now I am thinking that maybe just a good dose of “helpful information”  will guide and help me to deal with certain pressures in my life.  Thank you very much! I am anxious to read your book!

  • Toni

    Hi again. I thought you’d like to know that I have the same diagnosis. Many people who read the book feel like they’re reading about their own life. I hope you’re doing well with your diet and exercise program. All the best, Toni

  • lovebrat

    Wow!  This topic generated a lot of discussion.  I’m a “recovering” judge.   I became aware via a 12-step program that not only am I judgemental, but i am also overly concerned about people judging me.  It is not a good place to be.  I’m learning to like myself and not worry about what other people think and at the same time accept people for the way they are.  People who take comments, even compliments wrong are not viewing life with a clear lense.  Their perspective is warped.  “I like your new hair cut” may mean “your hair looked like crap last week, I’m glad you did something about it”. 

  • lovebrat

    Hi J,     Your post hit home with me.  I have a sister like that.  She is knowledgeable on a lot of subjects and very opinionated and quite frankly, she likes to argue, likes to see what kind of reaction she can get out of people.  She informed me just last week that what most of us call “geraniums” are not TRUE geraniums, their scientific name is pelargonium… ” and went into quite detail about what a TRUE geraniume was, etc. etc.  I have discovered that part of the problem is ME!  I worry about what people think WAY TOO MUCH.  I posted earler that I am a “recovering” judge and part of that is worrying about what people think!  The old me would have felt that her comments were an insult to my intelligence or “boy she must think I’m really stupid”. I used to get really defensive and defend my position.  The old me might have said to her,  “Really, well who cares. People know what I’m talking about when I call it a geranium.  Nobody knows what a pelargonium is.”   Whenever I feel judged now, I try to reframe the comment or discussion, or look at it from another perspective.  My reply to our discussion last week?  “Hmmmmm.  That’s interesting.  I didn’t know that.”   End of subject.  I haven’t given it another thought until now.  I think you need to ask yourself, “Why do i care so much what she thinks?  Why am I doing things to try to please her?”   I can see that you are in pain over this.  I wish you the best.

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  • Toni

    I LOVE your description of yourself as a “recovering” judge. It belongs in my piece! Thanks for reading and leaving this helpful comment. I, too, tend to be overly concerned about others judging me. Oddly enough, becoming chronically ill has helped with that (as I write about in my book). I’ve learned to accept how I am and if other’s can’t I see it as their problem not mine and I work on cultivating compassion for them. Warmest wishes, Toni

  • I remember the old saying: judge and be judged. I recall from my past experience I tried in many cases to influence the third party by passing my judgement about a certain person, not knowing that the third party was also judging me by the way I behaved.  It was only later on that I found out instead of getting the third party to be sided with me, I was actually exposing my weaknesses to them and got them to make their own judgement about me.  My life lesson is: if I love some one, I accept him/her as they are; if I don’t love them, don’t let them affect me, save my breath.

  • Toni

    Thanks for reading and commenting on my piece. What you say reminds me of a practice I read about in which you vow not to talk about a person if he or she is not present in the room. I recall going to work one day (this was before I got sick and had to leave my profession) and vowing to do just that (assuming the “talk” was not work-related). It was really hard to do. For some odd reason, two people seem to bond by criticizing a third one who isn’t there. This is a different gloss on what you’re talking about but gives hopefully gives us more to think about as we try to be mindful of our tendency to judge. Warmest wishes, Toni

  • Thank you for this great article!  I practiced non-judgment of myself and others for 1 week and it was so amazing.  First of all, I had so many fears and emotions come up – I was totally surprised.  Second of all I felt amazing!  It’s incredible how much energy gets drained from us when we judge.  I felt so light, happy and full of life.  I’ve recently slipped back to my old ways… but this has inspired me to refocus again.

    Alycia Hall

  • Toni

    Thanks so much for reading the piece and leaving this comment Alycia. I think it will inspire others to join you in practicing non-judment. I agree that judging just eats up our energy. As a chronically ill person, I need to save all the energy I can! Warmest wishes, Toni

  • I am very judgemental and have been working on that aspect of my personality for years now (it’s a life-long habit and very tough to break!).  I grew up with a very critical father so from the time I learned to talk, the language I was most familiar with was often harsh and judgemental.  I also was very non-conformist and I have stood out like a sore thumb my whole life so I have been judged constantly by others who were uncomfortable by my lack of desire to fit in.  The fact that I was judged so frequently definitely added to my desire to judge others and I first had to get over my anger/bitterness at how I was treated in the past before I could start working on my habit of judging others.  It’s a complicated cycle!

    One thing I’ve had a really tough time with involves a close friend I work with.  From time to time, she will say some racist and bigoted things.  I have tried to tell her that’s not okay, but really she doesn’t listen/care and that’s what she knows and how she was brought up so her opinions and vocabulary aren’t going to change.  She says she’s sick of having to be “politically correct” and I have not found a way to effectively communicate with her about those issues so I tend to just change the subject as quickly as I can.  This isn’t *quite* a judgement, but obviously I want her to change and I am having a hard time appreciating the good person she truly is while the ignorance is blatantly there regarding certain issues.  I have a hard time not judging her for that aspect of her personality/beliefs when I feel so strongly that it is wrong.

  • Toni

    Thanks for reading the piece. I bristled myself when you said your close friend makes racist and bigoted statements. To me, that’s not a issue of political correctness but of treating a group of people as inferior because of some physical trait they have. Personally, I could not continue to be friends with someone who was racist if my attempts to change their view of others failed. I would break of the friendship, trying to keep a non-judgmental attitude toward them as much as possible. It would be a challenge, but I’d try. Your situation is more problematic because you work with her and so I don’t know if you have the choice to not “hang out” with her or if your job would be negatively impacted by cutting off the relationship. There’s nothing wrong with breaking off a friendship. It’s our reaction to that action that matters. Can we do it without judgment? Can we feel compassion for a person who is suffering so much that she has to elevate herself above those of another race? Tough challenges indeed. Warmest wishes, Toni

  • Sanjay

    I respectfully disagree with you. I think it is OK to judge/have an opinion about others/oneself, and to use that opinion to improve the lives of oneself/others (provided we/they are receptive/willing/open). For example, the line outside Motor Vehicles Inspection stations are long on the last day of the month because people are procrastinators (they could have gotten the inspection done weeks/months ago). Yes, I just judged them. I called them procrastinators. But what’s great about that judgment/opinion is the fact that I can now decide (a) to not procrastinate myself, and (b) to change my life situation (e.g. hire someone to run errands like inspections for me rather than my wasting time on mundane stuff). Without judging and labeling them as “procrastinators” I would not realize that in myself and I would not improve/advance in my life. I’m not trying to change them (that’s up to them to realize their habits). I’m just using my opinion of them to change me. This is just one example. I have hundreds more …

    P.S. Even the holy scriptures/books/gurus (Bible, Buddha, Quran, Gita etc.) say that we should judge. It is the misinterpretation/misrepresentation of those readings by people (priests, modern-day gurus etc.) who want to make us feel guilty for who we are that say that we should not judge. Baloney I say. We all judge. If you vote, you’re judging. If you marry, you’re judging. So to say “don’t judge” is wrong.

    P.P.S.: There is also such a thing as positive judging. Learn from those you admire (e.g. role models). Never aspire to be exactly like anyone else (that’s impossible anyway), but see what you like/admire in others and try to incorporate those traits/habits into your own life. And learn from others bad habits and mistakes as well. That’s what history lessons are for.

    Bottom line: Judge away. But don’t let it bug/bother you. If the inspection line is long, see how you can use a lesson from that experience to improve your life in not just automobile inspections, but in other areas as well.

    [Yes, I realize that as you read this, some of you are already judging me. And isn’t that the purpose of a discussion group/board? I have no problems with a discussion. So let’s discuss. If you can prove me wrong — based on your judgment/opinion — I have no problems with that. In fact, I welcome that. I am always willing to learn and grow and change and try new things. All I can say is … I have tried the “no judgment” thing and it does not work for me because God gave me a brain that allows me to make choices based on my judgment/opinion of them (e.g. it was stupid of me to smoke in my 20’s; it does not make me a bad person; just stupid and lazy to change and giving in to temptations/habits; and I think those who smoke today are stupid; I’m just glad I’m no longer stupid in that regard; I’m just stupid in other ways; but I’m also very smart in many other ways; how’s that for judging?) If I don’t make those observations/judgment calls, there is no way I can change/improve/grow.]

    Finally, if you think judging others is bad, well you just judged judging. 🙂

  • Liara COvert

    Every moment, every perception, is an invitation to love yourself and others more.

  • This post came to me at a good time. I am currently dealing with some family/personal issues where we are butting heads, and I am getting more and more upset as time has been passing. Finally I snapped, and said some very mean things, based on my judgements of them and what they were doing.

    I think this article is helping re-evaluate my thoughts about the situation, and by trying not to judge them, which will be hard, will help me be more at peace with the situation. Plus it will help me make some needed changes and to calmly tell them how I feel would benefit me and hopefully the situation.  Like you said we have a life time of conditioning of judging people and we can get caught up in the cycle of it all.

  • Rachie

    I am a tad late to the party, but, hey, I’m here. Hopefully I can clarify some ideas here. Judging isn’t simply seeing people in line and labeling them as procrastinators, it’s going a step further–beyond the observation–to deciding that procrastination is bad and maybe that people who procrastinate are themselves bad. I won’t say judging is bad, just that it isn’t useful and can (and often does) have unpleasant side-effects. So, in an effort to avoid unnecessary unpleasantries, one might dive into their realm of control and forgo making judgments. You are perfectly right in observing others and using those observations to make life more enjoyable for yourself. You say, “Judge away. But don’t let it bug/bother you,” and I say, if it isn’t bugging/bothering you, then you aren’t really judging. Judgment arises from discomfort when one encounters something/someone who is different from their and one to change that person/thing to fit their original , However, if we let go of our desires and expectations, judging may not come about in the first place, and yet, you can continue to make observations and grow! Isn’t it magnificent?!

    Another way of thinking about it: Science is arguably neutral. This neutral subject is rooted in the scientific method. This method of observation, hypothesis, experimentation, and reflection is also arguably neutral. Let’s pretend we’re scientists, whenever a scientist makes an observation (1:the line at the vehicle inspection station is rather lengthy 2: it is the last day of the month) , they come up with a hypothesis (everyone here could have come earlier, but they did not, therefore, this line consists entirely of people who procrastinate and if I want to avoid a long line in the future it would serve me well to not join in on the procrastination), they experiment (I go to the vehicle inspection station earlier in the month the next year) and finally, they reflect (when I went earlier, the line was reasonable, so, to avoid the longer lines, it would serve me best to not procrastinate). Although some thoughts and actions taken may have been flawed, they were completely neutral.

    Hope this brings some clarity.

    It is what is
    Love & Peace

  • adisgustingworldweeffinlivein

    why judge in the first place. Don’t we all get judged in the end to whom we believe in. The world would be in a much better state than judging others because of the bad moods or bad situations we are in.
    We judge by social status, weight, height, eye color, hair color, friends, shoes, this, that….. oh if your single your screwed. I have been blamed for so much of the way of the world some of us JUST DON’T WANT TO DO IT ANYMORE. GET up take a bath, connect spiritually.
    I have had been bullied over and over and over and over and over and over. REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY TIRED OF IT1

  • Beautifully written Toni! Thank you for your insights. I will be sharing this with others.

  • Doktor McNasty

    But if we don’t judge others how will they ever learn to improve themselves?

  • Thank you for this excellent post. Wonderful insight. <3

  • nurava

    I have read and heard lot of people saying : “Stop judging”. I am still not quite sure whether it is right to judge or not. Your article basically rests on premise the attitude of judging someone comes from desires and need to fulfil some expectations. And that it causes dissatisfaction and suffering as a consequence. From my experiences, I think having no expectations or desires in life is a higher virtue. Also, I think judgement is wrong only if it arises from expectations and desires and not otherwise(someone might ask how can you judge without expectations and desires, but I think it is possible)

  • Ava

    I’m late to this too but I do agree with your statement. I feel like it’s okay to judge. Judging is a way for us to be smart around others and to protect ourselves; for us to grow in love and self respect. I think the difference between healthy judging and negative judging is when judging has that negative connotation that FEEDS the ego. If the judgment has the format of “me> you or you<me." My bf's mom is very judgmental of me. I'm an empath and I can feel when she is critical of me through her words, the tone of her voice, the look on her face, and that gut feeling. She made a joke without thinking (and it pertained to me) and I had the gut kick me very hard. In that moment, I tried so hard not to let it get to me. I pretended like I didn't hear (but I did) and just cleared me throat, sat straighter-better posture, and did not look them in the eyes and I knew they knew I was aware of it. What confirmed this was she was being extra nice than usual after that (compensation). I realized over time that she must be an angry woman. I understand that mothers are protective of their sons, they feel threatened but it doesn't give an excuse to behave like a high school girl; this only means there's something about HERSELF she doesn't like and takes it out on me. I have been more than good to her son – she knows it and his dad knows it (which I feel he reminds her). So that is my judgment based on my observation of her. It makes me wiser and somewhat compassionate to her. It doesn't boost my ego and put her down but it allows me to understand yet protect myself from any negativity or what is not necessary. I should be compassionate. God and the universe will give her what she puts out… maybe it explains why she's got cancer now. (No disrespect to those who have it). Who knows? 🙁

  • Liberated

    I have relentlessy judged everything and everybody for as long as I can remember. I’m not a mean person. I’m generally a live and let live person – except when someone’s actions adversely affects another (libertarian, Ayn Rand kind of guy).

    How does the world produce a Hitler or slavery? Because nobody spoke up and stood for the truth. It was my duty to spread the truth as objectively and as often as I could. I never let feelings keep me from telling the “truth”. Being authentic and truthful were everything to me. Just about anything and everything had moral and ethical implications.

    My wife is a sweet “sense and sensibilities” person and she has lovingly, for the most part, supported me. However, when we do fight it is rarely because of something I did to her. Rather, I’m blindsided because she’s upset at how I offended someone else. Usually my defense was that the person needed to be shown the truth and that it was up to the person to objectively process the information.

    After the latest blindsided fight with my wife, I had an epiphany. Being judgemental has been all encompassing and I’m exhausted. For the past few days I have been trying something new. I determined that the world does not deserve me. They can’t handle the truth. They don’t want the truth. So why should I keep trying? I was doing it because it was the right thing to do, but I decided I no longer have an obligation to be authentic or (gasp!) truthful. People are not worthy. I can tell them anything I want – even if I don’t feel it in my soul. Now I just have to make the interaction positive. Make people happy – that’s what they want. I couldn’t bring myself to break my moral code before, but if I see people as unworthy then I can. It is exhilarating. It’s liberating. It’s life changing. It’s also dangerous and I’ll have to figure out how to wield my new power and maintain some semblance of ethics. Now I’m living like the rest of the world. I resent it, but it’s a lot easier.

  • Liberated

    I analyzed everything through the lens of “personal responsibility”. It was the bedrock of my value system. It overrode people’s feelings. It overrode everything. Life’s decisions were so simple because I didn’t mind ignoring all the other rules of society. When people got upset I didn’t care. For me, it was like a child that cries when you make a decision that’s in their best interest. I was willing to put up with everyone disliking me, just like a good parent should be willing to put up with their children disliking them if they are doing something in the child’s best interest.

    The world is full of people that refuse to abide by personal responsibility, but what’s more upsetting is that there are even more people that refuse to hold people accountable for not taking personal responsibility. As Martin Luther King said, “History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

    Big things like liberal fiscal policy and conservative social policy were obviously hugely upsetting to me, but even simple things like people not picking up after themselves, letting their dogs bark, not “closing their gap” in traffic, etc. were all soul wrenching letdowns for me. I cannot begin to convey how much life was a constant barrage of letdowns and conflict. It was relentless. I felt it in my soul. How could no one else?

    I was compelled to always tell the truth and be authentic. If I was upset at something, I had to show it because that was the truth. It was a cycle I couldn’t break. I was disappointed so I had to show everyone how disappointed I was. I was enthusiastic about some things like personal responsibility, freedom, etc., but I could never understand how people were excited about all kinds of seemingly inconsequential things. I hated small talk. I wanted to cut to the chase and get inside people’s soul. I wanted to find out what they stood for.

    For anyone going through this, I feel so bad for you. I urge you to consider stopping this way of thinking. It is a black hole. The world does not deserve us. They can’t handle the truth. They don’t want the truth. So why should we keep trying? I was doing it because it was the right thing to do, but I decided I no longer have an obligation to be authentic or (gasp!) truthful. People are not worthy. I can tell them anything I want – even if I don’t feel it in my soul. Now I just have to make the interaction positive. Make people happy – that’s what they want. I couldn’t bring myself to break my moral code before, but if I see people as unworthy then I can. It is exhilarating. It’s liberating. It’s life changing. It’s also dangerous and I’ll have to figure out how to wield my new power and maintain some semblance of ethics. Now I’m living like the rest of the world. It’s a sad statement about the world, but it’s a lot easier for me.
    It’s like a weight has been lifted. I feel great at work. I feel great interacting with anybody – even people I have refused to talk to for a long time. I was a little tested last night by that person that had their head down texting and made a bunch of people miss the light, but I pulled through almost immediately.
    It never sunk in when people would tell me to look past people’s imperfections and accept them. They thought I should change for the other person – the person refusing to take on the burden of personal responsibility. I just couldn’t do it. But if I think of the person as an ignorant fool who refuses to look beyond the surface and doesn’t deserve me being authentic and truthful, then I can do it. I can do it for me. Not for them. The funny thing is that it’s a win-win. It’s better for me and better for them. My life has drastically improved.
    Don’t look too deep. You don’t owe it to them. Most people are not worthy. Save your energy for things that really matter like trying to evade giving your time, money, or truth to people that refuse to take personal responsibility.

  • Moses

    People who use the insulting that compliments is socalled sexual hassling will be in hell when they are dead as will those who dehumanize them by putting them in prison cages.

  • gabs

    What a beautiful article!
    I love this site ♡♥

  • ARCuncensored


  • Gourm

    Precisely. This is why it is important to judge tactfully as opposed to not judging at all.If your judgments are generally purposed with helping others improve themselves mentally, physically, spiritually or any other way then it is certainly worth evaluating. When your judgments are focused on providing others more happiness and more peace then it would be ignorant not to attempt to make use of them in some productive way.

  • Gourm

    This post has baffled me. Can you truly call yourself “Liberated” in this state? How can you be so certain that you have this almighty and invaluable “truth” that you hide from others?

  • valvacious

    What if you are on a jury.. you are not to judge??? I know people interpret the bible differently. here is my take: Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). On the other hand, the Bible also exhorts us to beware of evildoers and false prophets and to avoid those who practice all kinds of evil. How are we to discern who these people are if we do not make some kind of judgment about them?
    In the Bible it states not to judge lest ye be judged meaning do not judge hypocritically but judge righteous judgement. Meaning not by appearances but by the heart. ( intentions of a person)

  • True Believer

    im judging you for not caring about anyone except yourself and your own happiness and contentment. no one said doing the right thing would be easy or that it would be free of conflict. infact, if you look at the most influential spiritual Masters that have existed in the world they have also been the most controversial. For your consideration i give you this :

  • babba ganoush

    I see this a lot, this whole ‘don’t be judgemental’ thing. Usually the people who I hear it from the most are new agers, who are actually the most judgemental people I know. A lot of them believe government, police, anyone straight basically, is wrong and will ‘judge’ them instantly without having any patience or tolerance whatsoever. But aside from this, I don’t think it works. Judgement is something that everyone does, all day. It’s automatic and it happens without you consciously making it happen, which is lucky because you need your judgement to survive. Also, some things are clearly wrong, and need to be done differently. If you were living in Nazi Germany, I would think it would be fine to judge many of the things and people you’d have seen. This kind of ‘mental filtering’ usually boils down to self-deception on the part of the people who practice it. The sort of people who talk about meditation and peace all the time, and fly off the handle or get stressed out about the tiniest thing. It’s another way of wilfully confusing yourself and developing a blindspot and lack of trust in your own judgement. But good luck if you want to pretend you don’t judge people. If I see a pregnant woman smoking, I judge her, it’s impossible not to. If I see a gang of men beating up another man, I judge them too. I understand that people do things for reasons, but to wilfully try and become emotionally inert to what’s happening around me seems a bit facile, not to mention impossible through sheer will. And the worst thing of all is that it’s built on a hyprocrisy – the self-flagellation, “oh no I just judged someone, I’m so bad and un-spiritual”, which essentially is judging yourself. I can see a certain state could arise from a lot of sadhana, but this kind of thought-stream level intervention can only lead to self-deception in my opinion. It doesn’t solve the problem it just moves it around a bit.

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  • Dave

    Toni, it can come across as a little “guru and know it all” at times when I’m trying not to judge. Worse is when I judge those judging and think, ” how can I have any good relationships when people are negative?” I find I want to not be around people who judge which is actually judgemental. The qualities of people are more than just judging for sure, but how can we connect with that part if people?

  • John Alvarez-Turner

    There is a profound chasm between being judgmental and judging for discernment.

  • Guest

    This is a great post. I’ve been making an effort to judge other people less. I can recall a time when I was waiting in line at the check out at a grocery store. The man in front of me was asking the cashier for the price of the item. She checked and he said he didn’t want it because it was expensive. Maybe out of embarrassment, he turned around and said to me that he doesn’t know anyone who comes to a grocery store to buy one thing in a sarcastic tone. I responded and he went at it again by implying that I couldn’t afford to buy more things while he could. Did I think it was necessary of him to make a judgment of me? Absolutely not. He doesn’t know my profession and my assets, what good does it bring me for him to judge? He surely wasn’t paying for me.
    I think we all fall into this trap of judging other people. It’s a bad habit to get into and a difficult one to change. I also remember a friend who judged my social interaction based on my facebook activities. I was judged as being anti-social and having no friends for not using facebook like my friend. It’s funny my friend said that because I have many friends and acquaintances who I keep in touch with regularly outside of facebook. I think judgment occurs when we choose to limit our openness and not embrace the obvious differences between people and things. The hard part is embracing the differences and not trying to change them as we see fit.

  • Rachel

    Thank you for sharing this article. I’ve just been realising how my parents judgements have affected me so adversely in life – in particular my father’s (and also a step-father too). Lately I have stopped seeing my father because it felt as if everything I said was either being approved or disapproved of by him – and if he disapproved of what I said, then he would probe and start nit-picking, analysing or criticising and asking me to justify and argue my opinion – I found it difficult to defend myself against this. I realised that I didn’t feel I could be myself when I was with him and that it didn’t seem as if he was seeing good qualities in me unless I supported him and his views – it was as if he had already made negative judgements about me way back when I was a child.
    At the same time I have become very aware of how I have been making judgements about other people. In this, I notice that I have been withdrawing socially. In particular, in judging my dad as being critical and judgemental and separating myself from him, I seem to have found myself left in a position where it’s felt like I’ve absorbed this negative trait too – and I want to stop this but I don’t want to see him because I feel like I need to have a stronger and more healthy boundary between myself and him.
    I would like to ask two questions to people who have worked on this issue in themselves:-
    1) How do you heal from judgements made about you by people close to you?
    2) How do you defend yourself against negative judgements made by others without judging them?

  • Ron Webb

    Interesting thoughts… Thank you. I also find that it’s my own weakness kind of bubbling to the surface. When I say ” I hate The Beatles” I believe what I’m really saying is “I’m better than those who like them”. If I say “she could loose a little weight”, what I’m really saying is “I’m better than her because she’s heavier than I am. I can always tell when I’m looking to stand on the shoulders of the people around me… It’s the times I’m feeling the lowest. Fortunately, or not, I believe everyone around me also sees my weaknesses when I judge. I think our power and our true self worth goes way deeper than this though. In times of clarity it becomes much more apparent. Thanks for your words… LOVE

  • Chris

    But see, it isn’t our job to improve others. And rarely does judgment from another really move an individual to positive action.

  • doktormcnasty

    You’re right it isn’t my job to improve them. That’s what I’m reminding them of when I hand down my judgements. If they want to remain willfully ignorant well then now they are an even worse person after having been told they can’t cop to the naivete plea.

  • JBaileyz

    That presumes that you know what’s best for them. Annoying! I have a friend who does this. She’s always making “helpful suggestions” about what I should wear or eat, based on her own fears and woo medicine about what’s “good” for us (natural fibers, organic food, anti-vaccine, fear of microwaves, etc.). Sometimes these suggestions are subtle, sometimes pretty strong, always annoying. I know she means well, but I look at her preferences as her problem, not mine, and I ignore them. It doesn’t mean I’m “naive” not to want to live according to her irrational fears.

    However, her behavior has helped make me more aware of my own judgments about how we all “should” live. I’ve even studied and found out that most of what we believe about how people “should” live is based on folklore and fear, rather than science. This is tremendously freeing.

  • Brad

    I have a questions for anyone still following this post. What do I do when I catch myself judging someone? I saw Toni mention something about turning it into a metta moment. I’m not quite sure what that means. I appreciate anyone who can offer some advice and clarify. At the moment I’m just trying to put myself in there shoes and if everyone in the world was like me it would be pretty boring. Cheers

  • anon

    I also feel put-off people when they’re being judgemental, but this is hardly surprising as it isn’t a particularly pleasant characteristic to be around. I think the answer is to understand that they are being judgemental because of some need they have to do that. You just don’t let it bother you and remember to assert your own opinions too.

  • Mark Thomas Dickinson

    I thought about a new technique concerning the judgement of others today, we all do it. So I thought perhaps if mid way through judging somebody we could turn it around to a different positive outcome, that being for example… I would begin to think I am so glad I am not like that particular person because of a so called judgemental reason but turn it around to say something like… I am so glad i have only got an hour left before I can go home and enjoy a nice meal. when renforced in the mind I am certain this is a powerful technique which can bring untold clarity of the mind. So rewarding let’s make this easy for ourselves.

  • Mark Thomas Dickinson

    Well the technique was new to me at least… can’t be a bad thing to reinforce it and bring it to the top.

  • Lotus Knight

    You are such a sweet lady. My world changed completely after reading this.

  • Kyle

    Why are police and Obama so judgemental that they think every innocent person belongs in jail except the police for jailing those innocent people? Why is passing judgement on men’s compliments ok but police aren’t caged for hassling customers who complimented busts and cleavages of cashiers and baristas? Why do police pass judgment on anyone who gets rid of junk next to a graveyard but go unpunished for violating someone’s right to get rid of it? Why is everyone so complacent with the way Obama and our government is ruining North America?

  • Mohammed Ali

    Why haven’t all the police officers in North America been jailed for all the wrong people they have put in jail? Isaiah 29:21 make a man an offender for a word. Laying a snare for him that reproveth in the gate. That turn aside the just for a thing of nought. That bible verse has been being used in North America as an excuse for over thirty years now since 1976 to cage men who compliment ladies breasts and cleavage and its always been the wrong approach to overreact, judge and shame and demonize the men for saying your breasts and cleavage is beautiful. That’s judging without knowing him. Do you know that’s sexual hassling? I feel disrespected is a way to harass a customer and to insult him and his intelligence. Satan told them to criminalize compliments, drugs, travelling without a license, punishing parents who don’t send their children to school, etcetera. And of course police in Ct aren’t punished for yelling at people through their speaker in his car when someone is in the woods to interfere with his work so they are unable to complete it because his and their safety is being jeopardized. Why aren’t all cops in North America jailed for harassing people with littering tickets and for threatening them with jail, photographing someone else’s mess in in his and their truck and for snooping around looking at others peoples junk and garbage just to blame and frame them by using someone else’s junk and garbage against them as a weapon to kidnap them and hold them hostage in prison over those other peoples crime? A ruler who hearkens to lies all his servants are evil. That’s who all our leaders are including Obama who ok with police violating men’s right to compliment women’s bosoms and cleavage, violating peoples right to travel freely, peoples right to get rid of garbage with harassment and intimidation by people like Campbell who should be punished. Why are people who buy, sell, have or even use drugs always being persecuted, hassled and criminalized by our president, government and cops for? Zillions of cops will be in hell for these sins and atrocities they commit against the people they were supposed to be protecting not stabbing in the back by playing con games. In my judgment this is wrong and really bad. Someone ought to petition congress and them to get rid of a license law, drug law, school law and marriage law. God never said for women and cops to pass judgment on compliments and turn male customers into felons for saying your cleavage is pretty today. They will burn in hell for enforcing the sexual harassment lie.

  • Peggy Nance

    I have a friend that judges her friends behind their back.
    Well I have sought ways to show her its not good ok but in a loving way using the bible and its called sharpning.
    But she gets so angry at people for not doing it her was she then adds anger and dizsatisfatin, like this ok: why can’t she do it right for pity sakes, “I tell you get so tired of people not taking care of things the right way”.
    I am really trying to be gentle and harmless as a dove.
    But she is sick all the time, and i think its Gods wrath on her.
    I tried to say as easy as I could last night.
    In love and gentleness saying only this.
    Your judging. She said no I am not and gotmad and said by ingot to go.
    So my thing is this.
    I love her dearly as a friend and she has sharppend me to praise God.
    But I dont want to hear all her unhappiness with people ok.
    When I see wrong I pray and keep my mouth shut, plus I run to my Lord God and give him my burden.
    How can I help my friend please?
    Ty for all the help on posts see God is changing me to daily as I soke up the word.
    Praise our Lord.

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  • Lucas

    I have to agree, we can’t say judging is always bad. I do agree with Toni that judging makes us suffer, but sometimes suffering is necessary. If no one judged, we would live in a world where people get away with practising injustices. Judging can bring about change because the dissatisfaction with how the world is can create an impetus for change.

    Society has conquered many rights for the individuals, but those who fought for those rights did not do without judgement and did not do without suffering. They realised social injustices, and were not indifferent to them, but rather were angered by them. But they bore that suffering, not because they were only thinking of their own happiness, but for the sake of a higher goal.

    That is not to say judging is always good. It can be terrible. But at times it is truly necessary, for change cannot happen without it.

  • Carrie Ward

    Im really struggling with judging right now. It started out as making an assessment, and turned into judgement and now its no wonder i’m feeling pretty awful.
    It is hard to tell sometimes if i might actually be picking up on how awful someone feels or if it is just my own feelings of how awful it would be if it were me in their shoes.