I recently attended a baby shower. Afterward, a core group of us sat and discussed the party. Unbeknownst to me, one of the women in attendance left in the middle of the party. We began to talk about this deviation from the social norm and how these actions seemed very strange.
In other words, we passed judgment.
It is very difficult to not to pass judgment when others deviate from what is expected. There are so many quiet judgments that go through my head everyday. Most of the time, I am not fully aware they are playing out.
I’ve listed some examples of my quiet judgments. Do these quiet judgments sound familar?
“If he is well enough to panhandle, he is well enough to work”
“That poor child, his mom shouldn’t yell like that in public”
“I’m going to cross the street to avoid walking by those strange people”
“He still lives at home with his parents? There must be something wrong with him”
“Those shoes really don’t match that outfit”
For the most part, I don’t know the circumstances of the people that I pass judgment upon. Passing quiet judgments are often automatic, like blinking. How do I stop myself from these quiet judgments?
five reminders to help stop the quiet judgment
Repeat these reminders to thyself daily. Maybe paste them on the bathroom mirror.
1. Love Thyself First
I judge people all the time. Does this mean I am a bad person? If I tell myself I am a bad person, wouldn’t that be passing judgment on myself?
Stop judging thyself
Stop beating thyself up
Stop telling thyself not to be thyself
Love thyself first
If I stop judging myself so harshly, I might be able to stop judging others. Generally, judgment of others is rooted in my own insecurities.
I know it’s not easy. But, I have to remind myself that I am my worst critic. I often beat myself up for feeling a certain way, thinking I don’t have the right to feel that way. In reality, I have every right to my feelings.
Having empathy for thyself is the first step in combatting quiet judgments. This leads to the next reminder.
2. Empathy is Not Pity
Having empathy for thyself and other’s is not pity. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. Pity is the feeling of sorrow for the misfortunes of others.
A valuable lesson I have learned in life is people do not want or need my pity, but they certainly will take my empathy. We all just want to be understood. Empathy is the opposite of judgment. To truly understand how someone is feeling stops the judgment process. Judgment comes from my own expectations and insecurities and if I go beyond myself and put myself in someone else’s shoes, I step beyond judgment – this is empathy.
3. A Little Validation Goes a Long Way
My friend was recently diagnosed with a painful condition and had to undergo surgery. She has two little children and was feeling frightened with the diagnosis and overwhelmed with the thought of being incapacitated. Every time she tried to talk about her feelings with her husband, he would immediately start with, “it’s going to be ok,” or “don’t worry.” This would undoubtedly make her feel more frustrated.
While his intentions were good, his answers were not empathetic. He was trying to be the fixer not the validator. She just needed him to validate her feelings and to empathsize with what she was going through.
In other words, she needed him to say,
“Yeah, what you are going through sucks,”
“You have every right to feel the way you feel,”
“I am scared too,”
“It’s not fair, I’m sorry you have to go through this.”
4. Keep Thy Expectations to Thyself
Societal expectations are not universal. I am reminded of a book that had quite the impact on my young teenage mind, “The Stranger,” an existentialist novel by French Author Camus. The book’s protagonist is convicted of murder. His conviction is based less on evidence and more on his inability to meet society’s expectations of behavior and morality.
Often I base my opinions of others on my own expectations of behavior. For instance, if someone doesn’t say “God Bless You,” when I sneeze, I may assume that the person is rude. But, in fact, that person may not be rude and just has different social expectations. A Buddhist would likely not say, “God Bless You.”
I often see this problem with relationships. There are so many pre-conceived and unexpressed expectations when entering into a monogamous partnership. When the other person doesn’t meet the expectations, problems arise. I find the best way to rise above relationship expectations is transparency and communication.
5. One’s Perspective is Uniquely Personal
The baby shower was well attended; I had great conversation and a great time.
Not all in attendance had the same experience. My version of this wonderful occasion was quite different than some of my female cohorts. I learned that the person who left in the middle of the party has severe social anxiety. I am sure her perspective of the party was quite different than mine. These types of situations make her incredibly uncomfortable, and no matter how excellent the gathering may be, the same outcome results. She feels tremendously uncomfortable and leaves.
I have no idea what is going on within an individual. There is no way to get inside someone else’s head. And until I can walk through another person’s mental processes and their entire life history, I shouldn’t pass judgment. The best thing I can do is to empathize with the person and the actions. After all, I do not suffer from social anxiety, and until I do, I will never fully understand what that person may be experiencing.
I hope these 5 reminders will help calm the quiet judgmental thoughts. I am trying to implement them into my own life for betterment of my Personal Vitality. Making these reminders habit comes from daily implementation and practice.