4 Reasons We Judge Others and How To Be Mindful of It

people walking in crosswalk downtown as if they're walking into the unknown

One of the things most of us are taught as children is to never judge others. “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” And yet, despite our best efforts, many of us fall into the trap over and over again. Why do we do it? Well, first of all, as I often say, nothing is all bad, but let’s take a closer look at how judgment serves us and how it doesn’t.

Here are four common reasons that explain this particularly habit of judging other people.

It Creates A Feeling of Superiority

Tearing other people down is one way people prop themselves up. By judging others harshly, we conclude that we’re better than. Compared to their life, their behavior, their car, we figure doing pretty good. But this kind of comparison is ultimately unhelpful, because it’s unhealthy and limited. To focus on the things that don’t bring meaning and true depth in life, such as appearance, things, a person’s behavior one moment in time and overall what we perceive on the surface, is a very limited view followed by a lot of assumptions. Instead of finding faults in others, we would do much better to focus on how we can make changes, because no one is perfect.

It Helps Us Find Safe People

Judging is a way for us to perceive the world and figure out where exactly we fit in best. When we form opinions of others, we are able to recognize who we like and aspire to be, as well as who is not good for us. Judging can help us stay safe. Unfortunately, in this world, there are hurtful harmful people. We do need to “use good judgment” in order to make healthy connections with others.

It Uncovers Our Self

More often than not, we are bothered and critical of the qualities in others that we choose not to see in ourselves. We rail against another person’s habits, appearance or lifestyle choices because they are the very ones we secretly want and don’t have. Other times we may have this critical judgement because we are annoyed at these qualities or behaviors in ourselves and wish we didn’t have them.

It Can Help Us Feel On the Inside, Not the Outside

Occasionally, judging can make us feel part of a club. Let’s say there is a work situation where one person complains about something, and then another person agrees, and then another and another. Before you know it, a group has formed around negativity. Sometimes this negativity can be funny and based around a silly situation, but often the negativity can be at the expense of another. So, while it is bringing some people together, it can also serve to exclude others in a hurtful way.

How to Break the Judgment Habit

If you’ve recognized your tendency toward judgement, here are a few tips to work on it:

  • Try to take a moment to understand where other people are coming from, and why they may look or behave the way they do. Think outside your box and take another person’s perspective.
  • Try to recognize your own insecurities, and work on building yourself up instead of tearing others down. Does their behavior mirror your own? Do they remind you of someone? In what areas of your life and your self are you feeling insecure?
  • Examine your friendships and associations. Are they based on positivity or demeaning others? If the latter, consider re-evaluating your relationships. Connections built on mutual respect can be the most rewarding relationships of your life.

If you discover you have a tendency to judge others based on your own low self-esteem, it may help to speak with a therapist who can help you look at why that might be.

If you or someone you know is interested in exploring psychotherapy to work on these or other life themes, please get in touch with me. I would be happy to discuss how I may be able to help.

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Karin Lawson

2312 Wilton Drive, Suite 22
Wilton Manors, FL 33305