Here are five steps to take to determine whether you are negatively judging someone without warrant.
1. Identify who or what is being threatened.
Negative judgment is generally fear-based. Understanding what is causing the fear/threat is the first step in understanding and working through healthy judgment. For instance, strangers who followed the Casey Anthony trial may have judged her because they felt she was acquitted of murder even though she actually committed the crime. This threatens public safety and challenges social standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable to do. Another example is negatively judging someone out of jealousy. Socially successful people (wealthy, attractive, popular) threaten the innate human desire for power (overcoming human confines) of the other person because they will be considered the lesser, and less powerful.
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
― Marie Curie
2. Once you have established the threat, decide if there is immediate action you can take.
Idly judging is futile. If you believe someone is abusing their child, or is hurting others, do not stand around idly and judge – take action. Call local authorities. If you find yourself judging someone who is doing an unlawful act, it should be handled immediately through the proper outlets. If you believe a hurtful act is lawful, then work to change laws and social policies.
“The truth is that judgment and fear will never stop, but they don’t actually do anything.”
― Julien Smith, The Flinch
3. Consider the research.
Unfortunately, even common sense scenarios are being challenged in modern society. However, science-based research trumps it all. Are you judging someone based on their lifestyle choices? Look to recent (legitimate) research articles to find out what they say about the lifestyle choices you are judging. (Word of caution: follow the funding – make sure to check who sponsored the study).
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”
― Isaac Asimov
4.Walk in someone else’s shoes.
Are you uncomfortable with someone of a certain religion or who has made a parenting choice different from your own? Spend time getting to know these people and try to open up and understand where they are coming from. Understanding people and their beliefs makes them less foreign (and less threatening).
“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation.”
― Paulo Coelho
“People fail to get along because they fear each other; they fear each other because they don’t know each other; they don’t know each other because they have not communicated with each other.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
5.Learn to let it go.
Negatively judging people is bad for your overall health and well-being. Figuring out how to let negative thoughts go is the first step to lowering your cortisol levels and focusing on a more positive life for you personally. Write about it. Sometimes, writing a letter to yourself about your judgement of others is helpful. Read it out loud to yourself when you are done and ask yourself if there is and purpose or need for those thoughts to be clouding your mind.
“I don’t judge people.
It blurs out the center of my attention,
― Toba Beta