Breaking Down Judgmental Walls
Passing judgment is something we all do every day. When judgments like “I would never engage in ‘that’ type of behavior” begin to come from a place of lack of information and set you up to feel superior you have joined the ranks of the judgmental. From little commentaries like “what kind of an idiot drives like that?” to grander opinions that may encompass entire cultures, “everyone from this place is a terrible driver,” these types of judgments separate and divide.
At first, a judgmental thought makes us feel good, as it places us on a pedestal from which we may better admire ourselves. But this good feeling is setting us up. By putting ourselves on this pedestal we have tied our self-worth into not being or behaving like the other person. When we inevitably fail to uphold the position of superiority, we fall. We fall hard into the arms of guilt and shame. Both are quick to question our worth because we have now become that terrible person we judged as less than our self.
Most of us never end up feeling all that bad, because we rationalize and excuse our way out of the embrace of guilt and shame. With statements such as “I know I shouldn’t drive like this, but my child is waiting for me.” We decide that because we have a good reason for engaging in this behavior, then our actions may be excused and our feeling of superiority remains unaffected. The anxiety of keeping ourselves separate and better remains unaffected as well. The threat we could fall from our pedestal hasn’t dissipated. So, we try to strengthen our feeling of security in our superiority by casting more judgments. In the end, these judgments only serve to divide us from other humans and hinder true connections of friendship and love.
How do we stop all this judging?
Stopping entirely may not be possible. What we can do is lessen our judgmental tendencies and lesson the effect these judgments have on our actions and beliefs. Here’s how:
- Awareness. Practice being aware of when you are being judgmental. At first, you don’t even need to worry about changing or correcting the thought, just notice it and name it for what it is. “His desk is always a mess. Hold up, me, that was judgmental.”
- Compassion. Remember when we had that good reason for behaving in a way that wasn’t so good? Give one to the person you just judged. Truth is irrelevant. “His desk is such a mess. That was judgmental. I bet he’s just had a rough week trying to nurse his sick family.” Instead of feeling superior with your tidy desk, you have created a moment that allows for the ups and downs of life and shared an experience of being human.
- Acceptance. Not everyone is the same. People live differently, think differently, have different views and opinions, different values, styles and cultures. A difference in any of these doesn’t make them worse or better than you. They just are and you just are. Travelling and experiencing life in different places with different people is one of the best ways to learn acceptance. All you need is an open mind and a willingness to try life differently. “His desk is always so messy. I guess he just works differently than I do.” Maybe you don’t work well with a messy desk, maybe you find it too distracting. But his mind may have no problems with the mess, his brain might even prefer it.
When we work to combat and reduce judgmental thoughts, we bring ourselves closer to the people in our lives. By teaching ourselves to respond to differences with compassion and acceptance we open doors to new friendships and lessen the stress in our lives of always needing to be better than everyone else.
Check out our Catalyst Coaching Intensive and learn how to break down and judgmental walls that may be preventing your growth.
Amanda's great with helping you challenge your beliefs and set boundaries. Book a session with her to move forward with grace.