How Quickly Do We Judge?

Last month, I wrote an article for 60 and Me that was centered around the idea of establishing boundaries around other people for the purpose of protecting our own emotional health.

I talked in the article about how I had been thrown into the role of caretaker for my mom with whom I have a complicated relationship. I described events that led to my decision to set boundaries and also discussed some of the mindset difficulties that can arise as we go about actually respecting the boundaries that we have set.

This article prompted a LOT of comments, mostly very supportive. But, there were a couple of comments that although delivered in a very kind way, were judgy. The opinion expressed in these comments was that our parents should take precedence in our lives over our children and our grandchildren. That I would regret my decision to respect the boundaries that I had set around my mom. That I wouldn’t want to be treated this way by my own children.

As I said, the comments were worded in such a kind way that I was able to receive them and consider them. I understood that they likely came from someone who had a very loving mother. But, the comments also got me thinking about how quickly I pass judgement on someone else when they are living their own lives in a way that is not aligned with MY values or priorities. And how often each day do I do this?

If I’m being honest? Less quickly than I have in the past, but still too quickly. And more often than I would like to admit.

Unless I have walked in that other person’s shoes, passing judgment on any life decision that they have made is not only detrimental and limiting – it can be harmful. To me. And to them.

Harmful Effects of Judging Others (And Ourselves)

Judgement can serve us throughout our day. It can help us to make healthier decisions and to avoid possible dangers. The judgement that I’m talking about here is that which we pass on others’ choices, decisions, and how they may be living their lives.

Judgment Takes Away Trust

As our loved ones watch us formulate negative opinions about ourselves and others, it can whittle away at their trust, creating negative mindsets in those around us. It may make others hesitant to express their opinions and feelings around us for fear of being not heard.

Alternatively, if we are creating an environment of acceptance and learning, those around us will likely feel safer and less concerned about vulnerability.

Judgment Prevents All of Us from Considering Another Side of Things

I can remember years ago, watching my sister raise her children. As a mom, I was a control freak and our family was on a schedule. We had scheduled bedtimes and mealtimes. We had to have a green veggie of some sort with meals. We got outside every day.

My sister took each day as it came. If they were out and the kids were hungry, they ate. It could be 2:00 in the afternoon or 11:00 at night. If they were out and having fun, the kids could sleep in the car or fall asleep when they got home. There was no schedule and seemingly no rules from my vantage point. I shook my head, not understanding how someone could live like that and raise kids under those “conditions.”

But, my sister raised two great kids. Who are sweet. Who know how to treat others. Who love their families. Who work hard. So, who is to say her way is wrong and mine is right? And, as I look back on my parenting, it would have been healthier for all of us if I had been a little bit more relaxed. Less regimented.

Instead of judging her, I could have watched and learned. Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean that it’s wrong. We all have lessons to learn from each other. So, rather than watch someone and judge, we can watch them, take what aligns with our values and priorities and leave the rest!

Judgment Is Unhealthy

Studies show that judgment can increase our feelings of stress and depression. This, in turn can affect us physically, especially on this side of 50.

We need to turn this around and lean into compassion. Empathy. Kindness. Towards ourselves and others.

Along with an openness to learning a new or different way of doing something. Walt Whitman encouraged this when he said, “be curious, not judgmental.”

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Do you think that you lean towards being judgmental? Are there times where you’ve watched someone do something differently than the way you do and you took something away from it that you might be able to incorporate?

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