Who Are We Judging?

Who are we judging?

A judge or Judged?

Have you ever felt judged after sharing your life experience? Have you deemed a failure when you did something that didn’t turn out well? And have you ever disliked someone when you disagreed with what they did?

Well, the truth is we always judge someone, some situation, and even ourselves all the time. That is how our brain works. It is how our brain defends us from getting hurt and having pleasure. It is called a defense mechanism.

What is a defense mechanism?

“Defense mechanisms are psychological strategies to protect us from anxiety arising from unacceptable thoughts or feelings. We are mostly unaware of our defenses and mostly deny them. According to Freudian theory, defense mechanisms involve a distortion of reality in some ways so that we can cope better with a situation.” www.simplypsychology.com

So what are the triggers?

  1. Inferiority. We judge people to make us feel better. And that happens when we feel psychologically insecure, threatened, or inferior. But please understand that judging others implies our self-judged. We unknowingly think we don’t measure up. Or sometimes, we are shaken by the fact that we might not be good enough. So we defend ourselves by judging others who unknowingly make us feel less or inadequate.
  2. Insecurity. We judge others when we feel insecure. Someone may have shaken our beliefs or the values we hold on to for life. When that belief or value is challenged by a new perspective from someone we respect their opinion, we might consider it, though shaken. However, if the value is challenged by someone we hardly know or disregard, we go to our default defense: judging.
  3. Fear. We might notice how we judge others. Frequently, we tend to discriminate against people with different social and cultural backgrounds, different races, beliefs, and ethnicities. Why? Because we don’t know them. And we tend to react in all possible ways, from mild to wild or even cruel, out of ignorance caused by fear. We are afraid of what we don’t know. That’s why we try to understand so as not to fear. However, in most cases, we react negatively and sometimes mercilessly out of fear without trying to understand what the real threats are. Is there even a threat? Or is it just our imagination out of pure ignorance?
  4. Self-denial. The self-denial triggers defense in the form of judgment. This type of defensive behavior is known by a psychological term as ‘projection.’ We deny something we don’t like about ourselves. We hide them so deep that we don’t know we still have them. But when we see the same behavior or personality traits we dislike, unaware that we also have them, we project our dislike onto others. We judge them, and sometimes we even have an overly strong criticism of that person. We somehow miss our self-awareness as to why we reacted so strongly toward the person or even shunned them for no good reason. Why? Well, it is easier to hate and criticize others for the behavior we reject in ourselves than accepting we have them too. Unfortunately, this behavior only induces a more severe case of self-hatred.  

How do we deal with judgmental behavior?

  1. Self-awareness. It is a critical tool to help us from falling into the trap of judging. We need to develop self-awareness; so we become sensitive to our urge or motif to judge others or ourselves.
  2. Slow down and restrain the urge to respond mentally, verbally, or physically. The reaction is our default mode of defense. Do not fall for that. Try taking a deep breath to get in touch with your present. This will create awareness. However, if no wisdom arises yet, just ask yourself why you judge. Find out the reason within your mind. Acknowledge them without denial. Choose how you want to take action, not reaction. Be aware that you will not project your negativities about the traits you dislike to the person in front of you. They are not the target. They are only reflections for you to learn that you have that trait. And you need to acknowledge it and learn how to deal with it within yourself.
  3. Empathy. Empathize the person you are about to judge. Know that you also have the trait, maybe a different way of expressing it. Empathize with them as fellow human beings who struggle and thrive for the better. Congratulate them when they progress, even when that progress is ahead of yours. Empathize with yourself for any default negativity you may have at first. Know that you are on the journey of self-improvement too.
  4. Understanding. The best way to rid of our fear is to understand. We may need to understand both ourselves and others. Firstly, we need to comprehend why we have that fear. What does it tell us? Is that fear a real threat, or only our imagination? Then, try to understand others or the object of our fear. What are they? Who are they? What is it about them that frightens us? Is it harmful or just different? Understanding leads to new discoveries and knowledge. It is a light that vacates the darkness of ignorance and ignites the flame of wisdom.
  5. Self-love. People who don’t love themselves do not know how to love others. They are in misery and full of judgment about themselves. When self-criticism is overwhelmed, they seek refuge through judging others. Practicing self-acceptance and self-compassion to induce authentic self-love can save us from initially harming ourselves and others with judgment.

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