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Psychology of Being Judgmental: How to Control Our Judgments

Updated on March 22, 2019

There’s a story behind every person. There’s a reason why they’re the way they are. Think about that before you judge someone.

We have all been judged at some point in life. We’ve all been the subject of opinion, correct or not, that has upset or hurt us. According to psychologists, we all have a tendency to stereotype or categorize people who surround us. Though many of our judgments may contain truth, it is worthwhile to view the situation from other’s viewpoint. The common proverb - before passing judgment, it’s worthwhile to let yourself go and walk a day in another’s shoes – is quite significant in every situation where we need to pass the judgment.

The psychologists have found that basically there are three reasons why people pass judgments:

  • A person, who has low self-esteem, uses judgment to put oneself in a position of control. By labeling the person attempts to exert control over others and establishes oneself as the complete opposite. This is cathartic for the individual and offers him or her power.
  • Those, who lack empathy, judge others lightly and do so just to hurt them. It’s easier to pass judgment on others than to understand their needs, voids, faults, and virtues.
  • We hold grudges and resentments that force us to pass judgment onto others in order to project our own bitterness and sorrow.

It is impossible to meet someone and make no internal judgments about them. Judgments are expectations based on pre-programmed mindsets or scripts. It is programmed by habits we choose to propagate, experiences we embed ourselves in and information we surround ourselves with.

Judgments are conscious responses to triggers. Events that go against our belief system or our morals, or violate our personal boundaries, or flies directly in the face of our insecurities, act as triggers. When we are triggered, our subconscious mind evaluates existing circumstances to figure out if the events happening right now, match the pattern of events that happened in the past. A judgment is what we do in our heads consciously to figure out how to respond to that trigger.

We are very good lawyers for our own mistakes but very good judges for the mistakes of others.

Judgments Destroy Relationships –

They can be one of the most damaging weapons in a relationship. They build resentment in them and will eventually corrode even the most intimate relationships. What is more, even if a relationship survives the corrosive effect of the judgment, it still suffers.

We use our judgments about others to make the people responsible for how we feel. In other words, we would only feel better if the other person changed the behavior instead of us changing my judgment about his or her behavior.

Attachment to a judgment prevents us from accepting any new information that may conflict with our views, making us unable to update assessments that may no longer be accurate or correct. This hastens the damage to a relationship. Conversely, as the new information comes in, we re-assess the situation, which may control the damage.

How to Control Our Judgments –

Understand others – A judgmental person has a habit of tuning out others. We stop listening, which unfortunately may lead to making inappropriate impulsive judgments. In order to understand others, we should listen actively to examine their body language and look for statements like I feel…. etc. We should also ask questions to learn more about them and try to connect with their emotional experience. Feeling empathy for others will make them open up, making us understand their perspective better.

Accept others – Acceptance is necessary for overcoming an attitude of being judgmental. Acceptance also implies a lack of total control. It means allowing them to be who they are, and recognizing that you have no power to change them anyway.

Celebrate other’s strengths - We get so engrossed with the flaws of others that we can’t see the good in them. To counteract this negative tendency, we will purposely have to identify the positives in them.

Recall your own shortcomings – It has been seen that people, who judge others, are also often very judgmental of themselves. Don’t use others’ problems to cover up your own or place yourself on a pedestal. If you feel like being judgmental, remind yourself that you have flaws too. What is more, increasing your self-compassion will help you gain natural compassion for others.

Apologize for those whom you judge – You can try to override the habit of passing judgment by immediately apologizing to those whom you judge. An apology can be simple and straightforward. What is significant is to be candid about your judgmental nature.

Watch your underlying connections – When you are unhappy with some aspect yourself, you are more likely to project this dissatisfaction onto others. By trying to find the underlying connections, you can be able to command your judgments.

Refrain from gossip – Gossip appears to be a harmless way of forging a bond with others. If you think that gossip may get you closer to a person by driving a wedge between one and another, you are mistaken. It’ll probably not. Stop gossiping and keep your distance from those who tend to do it.

Forgive yourself for judging – Self-forgiveness is often as important as granting forgiveness to others. Show compassion to yourself when you judge.

The Conclusion –

In reality, there is hardly enough time or information to make a reasoned judgment. Even if there were, we still make judgments according to our reasoning biases, which are likely to distort the reality. But, nonetheless, we are quite capable of controlling our judgments by understanding reality.

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    • Dr Pran Rangan profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      11 days ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks Hacicu.

    • Hacicu Bogdan profile image

      Hacicu Bogdan 

      11 days ago from Cluj-Napoca, Romania

      I like the fact that you've given so many methods for controlling our judgments. Well done!

    • Dr Pran Rangan profile imageAUTHOR

      Dr Pran Rangan 

      4 weeks ago from Kanpur (UP), India

      Thanks Dora for finding my hub useful. Keep working towards the goal of attaining self-control. It's a discipline that requires efforts throughout life.

      Have my good wishes.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      4 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      Thanks for the informative and insightful details on this very important topic. Self-control has been my goal and am still working on it, because I am aware of how destructive judging can be. Your article is very helpful.

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