How to Stop Judging Yourself and Others

Not able to live up to your expectations? Do you feel like other people don’t understand what you’re all about? It sounds an awful lot similar to what my own experience has proven to be over the last couple of years, and getting out of this vicious cycle of judging myself and those around me has taken a big toll on my own well-being.

Humans have a natural need to succeed, we’re striving species that want to make the most of the time what we’re given on this planet, and why not? Life is a beautiful thing, and one can go to great lengths to create a life for himself that he can be proud of.

From the day that we are born, we are told that being successful and recognized is the most important thing in this world. We’re surrounded by people and experiences that instill in our brains judgements and ways to perceive one’s own performance in this world.

Your parents keep informing you how important it is to go to school and get that final diploma, your friends are constantly nagging you about your inability to be good at sports and why it’s important to be cool. What is cool anyway?

Wanting to be someone in this world…

There is a common tendency in the world to follow the footsteps of others, without ever acknowledging one’s own self-worth. We’ve all done it before. Looking up to your favorite celebrities, sports athletes and inspirational speakers has been a big part of everyone’s life — if they can succeed, then so can we.

That is an excellent notion to follow, in terms of success, but often we are the single thing that gets into the way of that success because of judgement, because we fail to live up to our own expectations. I’m likely to be more guilty of this than anyone else, but perhaps that’s just my way of looking at it. It takes one to know one.

I grew up thinking that I would become the president of a bank, no kidding. By the time I had reached my teenage years, my expectations had changed completely, and I was more inclined to learn about computers and what role they play in this world.

During that time, my desire was to become a programmer, which didn’t work out all that well for me. In my early 20’s, after two decades of struggling to find my own voice, I started to listen to myself and began to dedicate my energy towards unraveling my own identity in this world — a process that is still happening today, and will continue to happen for as long as my body continues to receive oxygen.

Some like to call it self-improvement, self-coaching, or self-help: I simply see it as the process of being more in-tune with what life has to offer.

What exactly is judgement?

We are all judgemental people, some of us are worse off than others, but nevertheless we all have the inclination to judge something that doesn’t rhyme with our own accord.

Dealing with reckless drivers on the road is a prime example, seeing someone act so carelessly provokes a fear of our own life, so we instantly feel the need to judge the other person for his behavior. This provoked energy of fear is then carried over to the dinner table, and the next thing you know you’re stuck in the loop of hating humanity.

The alternative in this case, would be to accept the situation as it is, to have gratitude that nothing bad happened to you and simply move on, but this process isn’t so easy to get accustomed to, and that is okay as long as we take small steps (like noticing our own judgements) in the direction of being more accepting of ourselves and others.

water quote

There is a similar sentiment in other communities that try to promote a cause through overly peer-pressuring other people to recognize that doing something is bad for you, while often there is a good reason for people to follow the advice of other people (like those who don’t eat meat), it doesn’t necessarily give you the right to condemn another person for his choices — activism needs to come from the standpoint of compassionate understanding, because that’s when people feel most secure in the presence of others.

Nobody likes to be judged, but in world of comparison and the desire to be heard; it’s inevitably going to happen.

Characteristics of Judgement

Judgement forms from your own set of beliefs, opinions of what is right, and the need to be in control of how life is unfolding.

  • Beliefs — you might believe that there is only one way to do something right, without ever considering that the person you’re judging has their own belief of how something needs to be done, so rather than forming a negative opinion you could instead, accept people’s own perception and save yourself from turning into a negative nancy.
  • Need to be right — you notice someone treating their child poorly in public, you feel an incredible urge to step in and correct the situation, without taking into the consideration that the way that the parent is treating their child is a reflection of their own problems in life, and rarely do people ask for outside help to deal with their problems. Engaging in the act of proving the other person wrong can lead to a negative counter reaction, which you can avoid being a part of by simply accepting all situations as they are, including your own.
  • Controlling life — it’s easy to assume the “right” way of how life needs to be, without thinking twice that our own behaviors and emotions are the one’s that get into the way of letting life flow freely. Setting overly high expectations of yourself and others is a one-way street towards depression and discomfort. People avoid other people who tell them what to do, it’s that simple.

Everyone has right to their own freedom of expression, but it’s not so much about having this right of expression, than it is to recognize the situations that provoke your emotions and behavior in a way that’s unhealthy for you.

She did this, and he did that, and because they did that I hate them all — how exactly is this healthy?

Do you judge yourself?

Judgements can be sneaky, unrecognizable, and often hide in plain sight, so the following questions can help you recognize some of the ways you may be misinterpreting situations based on your own beliefs.

  1. I accept the fact that some people are smarter than me.
  2. I accept others not because of the things they do, but because of the unconditional love I have for everyone.
  3. I understand that I may not be as smart as other people, but because I accept myself, I recognize my own self-worth.
  4. I accept life’s situations despite them being unfair.
  5. I accept my good and bad personality traits, without judging them.
  6. I accept people for who they are despite their negativity.
  7. I evaluate other people based on their appearance, status and performance.

Sitting in a quiet space and observing the answers to these questions can give you invaluable insight into your own psyche, scroll down a few paragraphs below and you will find a simple meditation technique to help you tune into yourself to reflect on the answers that you’re receiving.

Any resolution towards judging begins with accepting yourself fully, which comes back to the saying that judging others is a reflection of yourself.

Like attracts like.

Misery loves company, call it what you want — getting stuck in the loop of negativity is only going to attract situations of the same nature (negativity), not because life is conspiring to punish you, but because that’s the only way that you’re open to perceiving a situation to be.

Being hard on yourself, and putting pressure on yourself to have things done right every single time is going to leave you feeling depleted, hopeless, and eventually depressed.

Change in your external world begins with changing the way your internal landscape is built, and what better way to change it than by becoming aware of some of your own beliefs and perceptions of how things need to be, versus how things really are.

Reflect on your perceptions in meditation.

Meditation is the modern version of antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs. While powerful drugs can numb the feelings and pain of anxiety, they’re not viable agents of finding the deeply rooted pattern that is causing all this turmoil in your life.

The questions that were outlined above can be of great use during your meditation practice, to observe your emotions and feelings that you associated with each of the questions and their respective answers — this process will give you a clear insight in how you may be standing in the way of your own happiness and freedom of expression.

How to reflect on questions during meditation?

  1. Sit comfortably in a quiet space in your home or outside.
  2. Close your eyes and begin to notice the sensations of your breath. Start to breathe into your mind to create room for reflection, empty your mind from any thoughts that might distract you. Become centered in your own presence.
  3. Continue to breathe until you feel relaxed and in a meditative state. Once there, simply ask yourself the questions one by one, and notice the impressions, feelings and thoughts that you get in return. Don’t attach yourself to them, and simply observe.
  4. If you’re feeling uncomfortable, perhaps it is showing you an area in which some works needs to be done so you can express yourself more freely, whilst accepting all situations as they are.
  5. Unwind from the meditation by taking a few deep breaths.

This process isn’t about becoming your own therapist, or being too hard on yourself about the answers you’re getting, it’s more about the fact that you’re taking actionable steps to free yourself from beliefs and perceptions that stop you from enjoying life to its full potential.

When you truly begin to embrace who you are, when you start to accept yourself with all your flaws and imperfections, that is the moment when you begin to understand that everyone else is in the same exact boat as you are, the only thing that has changed is that you no longer feel the need to point fingers, and understand that everyone goes through the process of accepting themselves on their own accord.

Being different is challenging.

Living as the dark sheep in a herd of 100 white sheep is certainly not easy, but that’s the beauty about being yourself, the beauty of accepting yourself despite your flaws and whatever else stands in your own way.

The nice thing about changing your attitude from being judgemental to being accepting, is that people naturally start to become curious as to what is making you so happy and easy going. Yes, it takes a little bit of practice to open up to people without expectations or feeling like you’re getting gunned down with their thoughts, but eventually your ability to be different starts to bear fruit.

What kind of fruit? The fruit of happiness. People are miserable not because they want to be, but because in most cases everyone else is miserable, too! So what gives.. becoming a beacon of loving thoughts and words can really change the way that people look at you, and most importantly themselves.

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  1. Thank you for this wonderful post. It has definitely helped me to reflect on the ways I have been judgmental towards myself and others. I appreciate you also adding a little step by step in meditation for this.

    1. Amanda,

      thank you for your wonderful feedback. It’s a pleasure to share my experiences and stories with others, and it brings me such joy to know that it is helping others to recognize themselves.

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