“Before pointing fingers, make sure your hands are clean.” – Jimi Hendrix
Everyone loves to indulge in people-watching once in a while. I love to sit by the window facing a busy street in a Starbucks, sipping a warm chai latte as I watch the hustle bustle pass me by. A running commentary plays in my mind as I watch people’s facial expression, attire, and body language, trying to figure out their stories.
Most of the time I’m just curious, but I must admit that there have been times when I judged someone a bit too harshly. I have judged people for being unhealthily fat, or displaying rude and insensitive behavior towards others. I’ve also felt irked by loud people who I perceive to lack substance, and slow drivers who block the road. But, I’m also prone to self-judgment, which occasionally results in self-consciousness.
Every time I’ve passed an unfair judgment about others, or myself, I’ve felt energetically depleted (and I’m sure you feel the same too). But, before you go judging yourself for judging others, remember that we’re all wired to size people up. It’s an instinctive and defensive tactic that helps us identify friend from foe.
The brain is an opinionated, judgment-making machine that’s quick to process what it sees based on the template we’ve created for the world. Judging others is normal; however, it’s what actions you take based on those judgments that reveal who you truly are. For example, if you’re a recruiter interviewing a potential candidate, you need to follow the protocol of assessing their skills, experience, and traits for the job at hand. But, if you allow other factors to supersede this, such as race and/or gender, you’ve veered into negative judgment.
History abounds with examples of people who have wrongfully judged others, and committed atrocities based on those judgments. The Nazi’s persecuted the Jews because they considered them to be inferior. British colonists humiliated natives on their lands, referring to them as savages that needed to be civilized in Western ways of being.
Fortunately, we’re starting to become more tolerant and accepting of diversity and the differences in our global culture. But, for now, we’re still living in particularly judgmental times where our fears about other ethnic and cultural groups still divide us. Politics has become increasingly polarized, and many people feel that expressing their judgments vocally are justified. The open and anonymous forums on social media have facilitated the spread of the insidious language of hate and anger.
I believe that this upsurge of hate and bigotry is a wake-up call for all of us to look within ourselves and ask, “What is it, within me, that’s contributing to this fear-based energy? How can I deal with it?” It’s only when we’re willing to take an honest look at ourselves and take responsibility for our own judgments about others that these collective wounds can heal. As Gandhi once said, “We must be the change that we wish to see in the world.”
Besides contributing to the advancement of our species, taking a closer look at our judgments about others can serve as an excellent self-awareness tool to get deeper insights of our own intentions and the unacknowledged shadow aspects of our being. Whatever we see lacking in others is merely a projection of our own perceived deficiencies.
According to research by psychology professor, Dustin Wood, “Your perceptions of others reveal so much about your own personality. Seeing others positively reveals your own positive traits and how satisfied you are with your own life, and how much you are liked by others. In contrast, the tendency to see people negatively indicates a greater likelihood of depression and various personality disorders.”
Spiritual author, Gabby Bernstein says, “We should be grateful for the people and situations that cause us the most discomfort because they are revealing to us what we still need to heal”. In her book, Judgement Detox, she says “The way out of judgment begins when you witness the judgment without more judgment.”
What helps me to get back to a place of love and understanding is reminding myself that everyone’s on a different spiritual journey, living the best they can, based on what they know.
This realization will shift you from a critical to a curious mindset that is open to identifying what your judgments are saying about you.
Here are four key points to help you get started:
1. There are parts of you that you haven’t healed yet: Any trait in others that strikes a chord says something profound about you. If it’s a positive quality that you admire, chances are that you have the same quality yourself. However, this principle applies to negative qualities as well. When you project your faults, frustrations, and flaws onto others, it reveals the parts of you that you’ve failed to address and heal. You need to own those traits and take responsibility for resolving hidden issues from which any harsh judgments may originate.
2. You’re allowing fear to block your heart: Fear is at the root of all our judgments about others because we view them as an adversary. Fear eclipses the genuine heartfelt compassion that radiates from within us. Allowing fear to influence how we feel about others prevents us from expressing feelings of empathy and understanding. We need to take steps to replace the fear-based critical self that likes spewing venom onto others with the humane and just part of us that’s kind and loving.
3. You need to broaden your horizons and open your mind: Judging others is a sign of narrow-mindedness and a conservative view on life that’s limiting your personal expansion. When we broaden our horizons by engaging in activities like traveling, learning, and anything else that gets us out of our comfort zone, we open our minds to the many different ways of living and being that exist in our world. Our tolerance of differences in others increases as we embrace the diversity in belief systems, behaviors, cultures, and lifestyle patterns.
4. You’re probably not satisfied with your life and direction: A person who is deeply invested in their life and committed on realizing their goals and vision doesn’t have the time or the will to criticize others. They’re too busy focusing on bettering themselves and making progress in their life. It’s only people who emit a low vibration by embroiling themselves in gossip and superficial talk that are prone to making harsh judgments about those around them. The wise Eleanor Roosevelt highlighted this truth when she said, “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.”
Every moment and encounter is an opportunity for you to either walk towards love or towards fear. The universe is always trying to take you towards the light and engage in the energy of love, but it’s ultimately up to you to choose which direction you’re going to take. When you move away from judgment, you move towards love. A warm smile, wave, or greeting is all it takes.
All my best on your journey,
Question: What do you believe that judging others reveals about you? Would you like to change how you see others in general?