Judgment is the process of forming an opinion of something by making a comparison. While judgment can play an important role in decisions we must make to live productively, sometimes the thoughts we hold are what prevent us from having what we most desire.
Judgments are based on thoughts we hold about people and things. These thoughts are the filters through which we view our world. The limiting beliefs that we hold about ourselves, about what we can or cannot do, are judgments.
Judgments can be a tool that causes separation between people rather than bringing them together. Judgments play a significant role when it comes to marketing our business as well. How do judgments of yourself, clients, colleagues, and strategic partners get in the way of your success? Before we can understand that, it’s important to understand the underpinnings of why we judge in the first place.
1. We don’t know how to love. It was Mother Teresa who said, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” No two things can occupy the same space at the same time. If you hold judgment in your thoughts, then there is no space or place for anything else.
2. We are insecure. Insecure people spend all of their time trying to make their world secure. They base their security on their perceived ability to control the world around them. They feel that if they live, work and play in a world where everyone believes and acts as they do, then everything will be fine. While this notion is far-fetched and hardly grounded in reality, judgment enters the picture when anything threatens to shake up this “perfect world”. Any person, idea, or event that doesn’t fit within their perceived world is seen as wrong and unsuitable. The cure for insecurity is knowing that there is nothing we can control in this life except the thoughts we think.
3. We are influenced by our past conditioning. So much of what we hold as “truths” is really not truths at all. Instead they are thoughts that were handed down to us by our parents, teachers, our church, and other important people and institutions that we’ve come into contact with during our lifetime. Often times these “truths” were based on misinformation and fear. Unfortunately, because these thoughts were instilled while we were very young and vulnerable, they’ve taken hold. These thoughts have become the filters through which we view our life experiences. To overcome this, we must raise our awareness that we are making judgments. Is this thought my own, or some lie I’ve inherited from some earlier time in my life? This calls us to stand up for what we believe in, rather than what others think we should believe in.
4. We are afraid of something in someone else. One of the most common reasons that you judge is rooted in fear that you have of someone else. This usually plays to some insecurity around the idea that the other person has more power than you do. You might be fearful that this person knows something that you do not or that they are trying to use that knowledge to somehow control or change you. And underlying this is that they will take something from you, that you will be left with less than you have, or that you will be left with being less than you are. The remedy for this is to let other people be who they are. There is nothing to fear in others. The fear that we harbor is usually contrived on our own end. To overcome this, adopt an attitude of curiosity and inquiry. Try to set aside your own preconceived ideas about other people and their intentions. The best way to counteract fear is to open up the lines of communication by starting a simple conversation. It is amazing how quickly our judgments of others can evaporate when we’re basing our decisions on what is so, rather than what we think is so.
5. We are afraid of something within ourselves. Judgmental behaviors can also rear their ugly head when we don’t want to face something about ourselves. Often what we fear most is that uncertainty we might feel – that the foundation of our judgments, the thoughts and attitudes we embrace, are balanced on a foundation that is cracked and compromised. We might judge others because we, in fact, find that we don’t, in fact, measure up. Our judgments of others are really mirrors of the judgments we make against ourselves. It takes courage to look at who we are, what we think, and the responsibilities that arise from the actions we take. If we fear something inside ourselves, we must find out what it is. We must expose it to light, so that we can deal with it constructively.
6. We are hiding the fact that we don’t understand something. Judgment is one of the most common tactics used when someone is trying to hide their ignorance of something. Rather than come from a place of fear, a more productive way would be to open up communications. Instead of cutting yourself off from people and opportunities because you don’t understand something, do something about it. Learn more, find out more, and open your mind to taking in new ideas and experiences. By opening our minds to learning more, we can help our hearts to open as well. There is no place for judgment when one comes from a place of love and understanding.
7. Our position of power feels threatened. It is a common reaction for most people to come from a place of judgment when they feel that their position of power is being threatened. These folks tend to see the world as “black and white” – one winner and everyone else losers. They often are quite self-centered, as they cannot appreciate the rights and uniqueness of others. This behavior is common with those who suffer from low self-esteem. They derive their value, and therefore their power, by how they think others perceive them, rather than their value coming from an internal sense that they are, indeed, a valuable and worthwhile individual. While this can be a tough issue to overcome, its solution starts with having an awareness that it is happening.
8. We are unaware about how our thoughts become reality. As our society evolves, more and more folks are seeing the power of their thoughts– that what they think about, tends to manifest. One of the most poisonous things about judgment is that it tends to create separation among people. It divides people into camps – the winners and the losers, the “we’re right” and “you’re wrong”, the “I know”, and “you don’t”. There is usually no good that comes from judging ourselves and others. It is a perspective that comes from a place that there is something wrong, less than, or not good enough. Why not come from another place – what’s right and good about the situation? We, alone, make the choice about the things that we think about, why not choose a better and brighter path? Why not spend our time and energy thinking about things that will bring us happiness – things that will step us closer to the vision we have for our life? It all starts with our thoughts.
9. We aren’t evolved enough to have empathy for others. People who judge are unequivocally less evolved than others who can accept others for who they are and how they think. All of the great religions and philosophies of the world teach the importance of love and acceptance. Those who have not yet learned those lessons spend their lives embroiled in internal and external conflict because they cannot accept others. Highly evolved beings are concerned with how they interact with the world. They come from a place of understanding and empathy. They know that responsibility requires that they do and be more. If a habit of judging is adversely affecting the quality of your life, take a look at the philosophy of your life. Do you really believe in higher things or are you merely “parroting” what looks good in the eyes of others. Those who live their beliefs rather than talking about them don’t have the time, energy, or inclination to put others down. Those types of thoughts and behaviors have no place in the life they’ve chosen to live. Think about what you believe in. Ask yourself if you are living your beliefs. If not, do some serious soul searching and find out why. A problem defined is half resolved.
10. It’s a habit. Like most everything else we do in our life, judgment can be a habit. But habits are just unconscious, learned behaviors. Like any behavior we have, they can be unlearned. There are several things to consider when breaking a habit. First, you need to clearly understand your habit and what it is rooted in. Judgment is fundamentally rooted in fear. Next, you have to want to change. You need to be able to visualize the type of person you desire to be and all the benefits that will accrue to you as a result. Finally, you need to take action to change. It takes time, determination, and discipline to change something that you’ve done for a long time. Working with a coach or other professional can be helpful in providing you the support that you might need to make an important change like this.