100 Ways To Live A Better Life – 50. Stop Being Judgmental

With others AND with you. Excessive criticism will kill your enthusiasm. Lighten up. Accept life as it is.

And you know what? The moment you start accepting life as it is, life will start accepting you as you are too. Critique is good only if it ends with a positive call for action, otherwise is just another burden on your back. Who needs another one, anyway?

Being judgmental is more often than not the consequence of a serious lack of self-confidence and not the expression of a genuine improvement desire. Why judging others instead of helping them? That will only perpetuate the problem.

Stop being judgmental with you in the first place. You are ok as you are. 

The False Benefits Of Being Judgmental

First of all, being judgmental often gives you a false sense of being in control. If I can express a radical opinion on somebody else, I must know stuff. Of course, you know nothing about somebody else. We barely know stuff about ourselves, let aside other people.

Second, being judgmental will also give you the false impression of clarity. Strong labels, distinct categories, stereotypes, that’s how we usually make sense of reality when we’re confused, or when we’re learning. Stereotypes may be useful for a while, when we talk about actions or categories, they’re a basic cognitive function. But when it comes to human beings, the level of complexity cannot be covered by stereotypes. Every time we use stereotypes to describe other human being we’re not only wrong, but we’re also coming out weaker and sadder. We lose a lot of the potential benefits of the interaction. The human being is so magnificently complex that every attempt to confine it within the boundaries of a concept, of some race, of age or gender will fail miserably. We’re wonders in movement, we’re unpredictable, we’re capable of accomplishing unconceivable things. We’re alive. And you cannot describe what alive means in a pair of empty labels, you can only experience it directly.

And yet, we still keep being judgmental. We keep creating drawers in our mind in which we put people based on some internal map which says: this person should stay in this drawer and this person should stay in the other drawer. This one is aggressive, the other one is too weak for that job, the other one is black, the other one is a woman and women cannot do this or that. Or, even when we’re more open and we don’t have any race or gender apprehensions, we come up with judgment about some people’s actions: he should be more straightforward, or she should be more feminine.

Being judgmental is assertiveness gone wild. We are required to have opinions, to give feedback or to identify environmental changes and act accordingly (after all, that’s basic cognition, right?) but when we trespass on the area of “I know what’s right and wrong FOR YOU” we’re being judgmental. And that kills not only the enthusiasm, but also any chance of genuine interaction, any potential communion with another human being.

On the outside, being judgmental comes out as pride, but deep down, it’s only about fear. Lack of self-confidence is just a particular case of fear. Fear of being wrong, fear of interaction, fear of sharing.

Now, we’ve only talked about being judgmental with others. Try to think what happens when you’re being judgmental with yourself. How you’re confining your own being into some dry labels of what’s wrong or right. And how you’er disconnecting form your own nature.

I’m not saying you should live without any moral code or without ethics. A certain level of assertiveness is required for a proper functioning as an individual and as a member of a social group as well. But the rules should be made of silk instead of iron. Flexible and strong. The assertion should be fluid, welcoming, willing to change. It shouldn’t be fixed, unchangeable, domineering.

Self-alienation comes from the relentless attempt to put your ever changing, flowing, evolving self into immutable, iron-like molds of what you think or believe it’s “correct”.

And being judgmental is the constant fire that keeps building those molds.

further reading

How And Why We Got Bored

How To Really Listen

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