Making Judgements and Being Judgemental — What’s the Difference?

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In the last post we discussed being worried about judged by others. Today, let’s talk about how we, ourselves, can be judgemental… about ourselves, but also others, too.

But first: Let’s make the distinction between making a judgement and being judgemental.

Why is it that even though we can all find ourselves having critical opinions about ourselves and others, there are some people who we think of as being particularly judgemental?

For each of us to be able to make judgements allows us to not walk into walls and be able to make decisions about what keeps us safe and situations that might be dangerous.

But there’s also a difference between having a critical thought and using it productively, and being judgemental in an unhelpful or even harmful way.

As an example, “I wouldn’t do it that way” and “So-and-so is an idiot for doing it that way”

And here’s the big difference: It’s important to be aware, especially when the judgement is of others, that all judgements are personal and subjective opinions we can be holding: Not an objective or definitive truth.

Believing without question or testing our judgements or subjective opinions can lead to limited beliefs and the inability to be open to other people and experiences.

So the big idea is: Every one of us makes judgements, but we can all be careful to not be judgemental.

Because our brains are wired to make judgements, here are some things to keep in mind to avoid being judgemental:

  1. We’re prone to mistaken assumptions. Most of us have strong views regarding issues in which we don’t always have all the information for. Many of us have a pretty strong opinion about things, even if we are not aware of the source of information or based on a pre-existing bias.
  2. Humans have pattern-seeking brains. When we are exposed to something new, the brain naturally attempts to connect it to something we already know. This is valuable and provides certainty and predictability. It helps us to be able to navigate the world, but it also means that we have a tendency to make assumptions.

Being aware and to double-check our assumptions can also be helpful, this can be done by asking:
• Do I truly understand this situation or this person’s circumstances?
• Is there a strong feeling around the need to be right? (ego driven)

Lastly, the more judgemental we are ourselves, the more we expect others to be of us. After all, if you think a certain way, why would you not think that others would think the same?

But that, too, is an assumption and while there are undoubtedly others who may think similarly to you, there is little chance that EVERYONE is thinking exactly the same thing.

If we can better understand that our critical thoughts are merely our opinions and start to think more compassionately, how we feel about ourselves and others can drastically improve.

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