Inspirational Articles

Why People Judge

Why People Judge

by Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak

In our society, judging others seems to have become almost a human trait. Perhaps it is because many of us grew up in a system that endorsed criticism as a form of education. The child who received an ‘A’ on an assignment would be questioned as to why not an ’A +’. We appear to live in a world in which many aspects of mass media are devoted to criticism and examining other peoples’ issues with great relish. Whether they are the rich and famous, political figures or corporate leaders, it appears most people are fair game to be judged. Some criticism is fair, for example, giant corporations taking taxpayer bailout funds to avoid bankruptcy while continuing to give very large bonuses to their executives, as has been the case with some American companies.

To be or act with prejudice is to judge another without knowledge. This may include having little or no information on who an individual is or how a corporation is conducting business based on its financial viability. Whether we are judging the famous, or our friends, judgment stems from much deeper issues within us. Gossip style TV shows and print media abound, examining human behaviours and reporting on the most mundane events in peoples’ lives. It virtually gives us permission to also examine and judge others. Pointing our attention to the outside takes our focus away from our self so that we may not have to look deeper and continue doing our own work. There can be a number of reasons why we feel we need to judge others and often, harshly.

  1. People judge others to make themselves feel better. If we have low self-esteem or are just not feeling very good about our self we will be much more likely to be critical of others. In being critical of others we believe that we make ourselves look better. This can happen a lot in the work place.
  2. When we feel and/or act self-righteous we will point out to others what we believe to be true from our frame of reference and let others know they are not living up to it. There is no thought to what the other person may be experiencing; we are only coming from what we believe to be true. Believing that we know what is best for others puts us in a very precarious position as there is little room for us to be human as well. We will be driven by a set of rules which may not leave space for our own evolution and personal growth.
  3. One of the more amazing aspects of the human mind is its ability to see in others what we do not or cannot see in ourselves. This is usually called projection but more simply can be identified as the mirror effect. An example could be: if you have money issues, then you will identify others with money issues and you will usually feel angry. Although we consciously do not realize it, the other person is our mirror and is reflecting back to us a part of our self we do not like or have not owned yet. The more unaware we are of our self the more likely we are to judge others a lot.
  4. When we feel, even unconsciously that our needs are not being met we often become angry and critical of others. Again having a level of consciousness that we can identify what is making us so angry and an awareness of what needs we are trying to have met, and it is not happening, can help us stay out of this internal space. Not everyone can meet our needs; either by their choice or ability, and no one person will ever meet all of our needs.
  5. Another big issue is that of control. Many can use criticism and judgment as a way to control situations and other people. This can be done by those who feel they do not have what they need or do not feel in control themselves. By attempting to exert control of others the illusion of being in control is established. An example may be someone who wants others to do exactly what they want, their way. If you want something done your way, it is best to it yourself. Control can be highly destructive when used in relationships and can lead to abuse in its many forms. It can also be destructive in work environments such as the manager who calls down an employee in front of others. We all need to learn that the only thing we will ever have control of is our self.

While being judgmental is harmful there is a place for what can be called constructive criticism. This type of criticism is from a place of caring, is non confrontational and certainly is not intended to be construed as judgment. Sometimes we are unable to see how we may be engaged in self destructive behaviour, and our friends or family may need to help us to see, if we can, how we may be hurting our self or others. Although most people receiving this kind of input will become defensive, others will be able to hear what needs to be said if the intention is pure. However the person feeling a need to deliver constructive criticism needs to be very aware of themselves and their intentions and that they are not simply seeing a reflection of something they themselves are not seeing in their own lives. The person who is always critical of others is even more critical of themselves. The less we judge our self, the less we will feel a need to judge others.

If every soul has a blueprint or map of what we have decided needs to happen for our soul’s growth, who are we to judge another’s path or behaviour. The addendum of course is if someone is in self destructive behaviour. Even then those who have come through such periods of say, addictions, will be the first to say, that it served an important role to help them become more aware. Since we cannot ever know what our own blue print holds and what experiences we may go through to follow that path, how could we possibly assume we know what another persons may be.