I bet you would describe yourself as smart, maybe generous and possibly kind. It’s nice to see yourself in a positive light but what if we put a bubble above your head for everyone to read your thoughts, like in a cartoon; how many of those thoughts would be judgmental?
It is human nature to be judgmental but that natural tendency seems to have been put on steroids in this age of social media. There are many more opportunities to judge, compare and critique people you know as well as complete strangers.
Judgments come in many different forms like:
- People’s political view
- Comments on social media posts
- Someone’s driving habits
- Our partner’s lack of appreciation
- Ourselves for pretty much everything
The repetition of judgmental behavior can become as habit forming as gossip. Your brain’s pattern seeking ability is pretty comfortable with passing judgment and continuing that loop without your awareness.
But making judgments isn’t all bad. It’s helpful to have personal choices, make clear decisions and avoid potentially dangerous situations. Being critical helps you to be creative, innovative and insightful in both of your roles as accountant and as mother.
The issue is between making judgments and being judgmental. One is discerning and feels empowering and the other feels defensive, fearful and often justified. One gets you the results you desire and the other gets you a whole lot of emotional pain.
This week I’m going to discuss why you are judgmental, how it’s hurting you and how to stop being the judge and jury in your life.
Why you are judgmental
I have to admit that my inner judge and jury is quite a bitch! How about yours? Mine says things like:
- Could they drive any slower?!!
- Didn’t she look in the mirror before she left the house?
- Why does he have to keep making the sucking noise with his teeth?
- Well if I didn’t have to work, I’d be at the gym every day too!
- When is she going to stop complaining and gossiping about her sister?
- Damn I’m having a bad hair day!
Don’t be too embarrassed by your inner judge because we’ve all got one. I’ve shared before about the primitive brain but it bears repeating because it holds the secret to why you are judgmental.
Your primitive brain is motivated by three things: avoiding pain, seeking pleasure and expending as little energy as possible. Your primitive brain filters everything you see through a lens of keeping you safe and alive. It sees most things as a threat to your survival.
Your primitive brain is also afraid to let its guard down and act vulnerable and loving towards others because it believes you will be taken advantage of and will no longer be safe. Judgment equals protection to the primitive brain.
The crazy thing is that when you have moments of awareness of the judgments your brain has been having, you then judge yourself for your judgments. You resist the feeling of shame for your judgments and get caught in a loop, trying to feel a sense of control, safety and worthiness.
So if the primitive brain is just trying to protect you, then how are judgments hurting you? Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?
How judgments hurt you
In the Manage Your Mind Model, a judgment is a thought about a circumstance. Whether that circumstance is a person, place or thing, your thoughts about it are going to directly affect you not the object of your thoughts.
The way your judgmental thoughts affect you (as opposed to the person, place or thing being judged) is that your thoughts are creating your feelings. For example, when you judge your coworker for eating unhealthy food at lunch, you may feel annoyed, disgusted or even jealous depending on what you choose to think about their food choice.
Those feelings lead to your actions, inactions and reactions. So in this example, the feeling of annoyed might lead you to judge more things about them or lead to you avoiding them at lunch. Eventually the result of your judgmental thoughts will be a disconnection with the coworker and yourself.
Another way that judgments hurt you is with your self-judgments. The thoughts you have about yourself are going to determine how you feel, how you act and how you experience your life.
When you constantly evaluate yourself and form opinions about what is good and bad about you, you experience feelings of shame, frustration and anxiety. You may believe that being “hard on yourself” is motivating but positive action never comes from negative feelings.
What becomes even more insidious is when you start judging yourself for judging yourself and others. Do you see how this can become a never ending episode of Judge Judy?
So if judgment of others hurts you and judging yourself hurts you as well, how do you stop? The fact that you have the awareness that being the judge and jury hurts you is the first step.
How to stop being the judge and jury
Do you like to drink tea or coffee or maybe a glass of wine? Have you ever sat across from someone in a relaxing environment sipping your beverages of choice and getting to know them better?
My suggestion for how to stop being so judgmental is to have a cup of tea with your judgmental thoughts and get to know them better. Make a list of the people you judge and what your judgments are. Please make sure you put yourself on that list.
Your judgmental thoughts about others and yourself are like skittish children. They need to be allowed to be seen and understood in a non-judgmental environment.
Once you have your list, choose one and write how this judgment makes you feel. If you feel justified for this judgment, why? Just be interested and curious.
Don’t be afraid of your judgments and resist them. Be open to being curious about them, understand them better and be interested in why you have them. Be curious about how they make you feel and act.
It’s also important to not judge your judgments. Your primitive brain has been trying to protect you in the only way it knows how. But it’s good to know that the only person that actually experiences your judgments is you because your thoughts create your feelings.
Once you are clear about how your judgmental thoughts make you feel, decide how you would like to feel instead. For example, if the judgmental thought about your boss is “Why does he need to bring his personal problems to work all the time!” and this thought makes you feel frustrated, then you may want to choose to feel compassion or peace.
When you have decided on a better feeling, ask yourself what you are willing to think instead that will create the feeling you desire. If for example you chose the feeling of peace, you could choose the thought “I can always choose peace no matter what” or “Everyone has personal issues but I don’t need to judge them for it”.
When you stop your judgments of yourself and others you create new and improved results in your life. You experience life differently because your thoughts, feeling and actions are always creating your results.
The amazing thing about learning to manage your mind is that you will realize that you will always find your thoughts in your results. That’s why it’s important to gently allow your judgmental thoughts to be understood and then to be released with better feeling thoughts taking their place.
The famous author and poet Maya Angelou once said “When you know better you do better”. This is perfectly in alignment with learning to manage your mind because when you have better thoughts, you feel better, you act better and your life just keeps getting better and better.
Once you create less judgmental neural pathways in your brain, you will no longer be the judge and jury of yourself and others. You can just be the unbiased observer in the back off the court room instead, watching your life improve with each non-judgmental thought.
- The repetition of judgmental behavior can become as habit forming as gossip.
- Judgment equals protection to the primitive brain.
- The way your judgmental thoughts affect you (as opposed to the person, place or thing being judged) is that your thoughts are creating your feelings.
- The thoughts you have about yourself are going to determine how you feel, how you act and how you experience your life.
- The amazing thing about learning to manage your mind is that you will realize that you will always find your thoughts in your results.
If you’d like some help to stop being the judge and jury in your life, please feel free to schedule a free mini session or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can get to work together.