I catch myself judging time after time. Even when I’m very aware and even when I try not to do so, I still judge people. I notice that I only judge when I don’t feel well. I need to be negative about someone’s clothes or behavior, just to make myself feel good. But it never works. It actually makes me feel worse and also makes my mind act like a whirlwind, spending a lot of energy being wound up about others’ lives.

Why do we judge?

When you judge someone, you try to place them below yourself. You seek arguments why you are better than the other. Why would you try and do that? Because you are feeling insecure. You don’t like yourself well enough at that moment and you feel you need to be negative about someone else in order to feel better about yourself. Is this common? Absolutely. But this is such a negative way of making yourself feel better! And in reality it actually won’t even make you feel good about yourself, only slightly less bad. Which is still a negative mindset, and it costs a lot of energy.

What you do when you are judging others is making a ranking. Everyone you meet is put along a scale where you are somewhere in the middle, or above or below it, depending on your self-regard. Others may receive a rank higher than you, which makes you feel insecure. By judging them on something, they might still be higher than you at your scale, but at least they have a negative label on their coat. They might also get a rank lower than you receive. Judgments will put them even lower, creating an artificial feeling of being better for you.

Look into the mirror

When you point your finger at someone, there are always three fingers pointing back at you.

We judge because we are afraid. The people we judge show us a part of ourselves we don’t like. Every person you meet acts like a mirror for you. When you are happy, you will receive many smiles each day. When you don’t feel well, you probably see a lot of grumpy faces. How does that work for judging?

We judge people because they have the courage to do things we are afraid or show they are comfortable about things that we dislike in ourselves.

We may judge a busty lady for wearing a tight shirt that emphasizes her bosom for dressing cheap, when we are jealous of her physique or her courage to dress as she pleases. We may judge a working mom for not staying at home with her kids when we are a housewife who always dreamt of a career but gave it up when she became pregnant. We may judge a couple kissing openly in the streets because we dream of being in love, but are too afraid to open our heart for someone.

We share our judgments with others and look for support, gossiping around. We look for others who share our negativity to create a feeling of being a group with shared ideas. The group doesn’t reflect its own emotions, but points to others with strong, negative opinions. By sharing negative feelings, the load of the emotions grows. By sharing negativity, the amount of negativity increases. You will never truly feel good about yourself by being negative about someone else. Negativity attracts negativity. Even if the other person doesn’t accompany you in your small talk, this other person might start to dislike you because you are so judging and negative about others!

So what to do when you catch yourself judging someone?

First of all: dare to be aware of your judgments. Even though you might not like yourself being judgmental, see this as a learning opportunity and embrace yourself for daring to be aware of your judgments.

Second: wonder why you feel the need to judge. What does this person you judge show you about yourself? What is this person capable of that still frightens you?

Third: be thankful for this process. You became aware of something that still holds you back. Something that keeps you down. Something you are now aware of and can change.

Love you!

Instead of judging others, try and work on your own sense of self-respect and learn to really love yourself. If someone judges you the way you judge others, would you be friends with this person? You will probably realize that it can hurt a lot when people create judgments about you. In general judgments are based on projections mixed with personal feelings and emotions. They never form a true image of the person they describe. Do your judgments truly and respectfully describe the person they involve?

Become aware that the need to judge people and score them along a scale comes from your own fear and lack of self-confidence. When you are happy with yourself and your life, there is no more need to judge others. Embrace yourself, love yourself. Start to like yourself. Become friends with who you are. This brings you into a positive mindset.

What if you are being judged?

Most people judge. Especially when you do things that are slightly different from mainstream, you are a welcome target of judgments. Gossip magazines are filled with this kind of negativity. It’s quite unlikely you will escape judgments. So what to do when you realize people judge you, and even worse, share their negative feelings about you with others?

Be aware that their judgments say little about who you are, and all about themselves. Their judgments express their fears. Are you being blamed for dancing weird? They probably wish they had the courage to dance like you do. Don’t think you are not good enough because you are being judged. Honor the judgments. Apparently you are doing something courageous! Maybe you can even smile at the person judging you, and hug them. This way you let them there’s no reason to be afraid of you. That you might lead a life different that the others’, but that you’re willing to share your experiences and create a real moment of growth and thankfulness for both of you.

Do you judge people? Do you see a difference when you are feeling happy? How does judging others make you feel? And how does it feel when you are aware that others are judging you?