Humans are naturally judgmental. We had to be. Our ability to judge and make snap decisions used to be a crucial element for survival. Today, while we live in much safer times, modern news cycles and clickbait headlines still encourage us to judge others rapidly and without much thought.
But the difference between now and then is that being judgmental really isn't very useful anymore. When you openly judge people, you come across as arrogant, negative, and unpleasant. You will make other people insecure, because they might not adhere to your standards, and can lose friends as a result.
Being judgmental doesn't define the people you're judging. It defines you. So here's how to stop being so judgmental.
How to Stop Judging People
Observe Your Thoughts
The first step is awareness. Sometimes we don't realize we're being judgmental. We consider someone insensitive or stupid because they talk too loudly on the phone or are too slow to respond to a green light. Instant judgments that go by so fast we may not even notice them.
So start by observing your thinking for a few days. Try to catch yourself being judgmental. You'll probably end up surprised at how often you judge people you will only ever see for a few seconds your entire life.
Understand Your Patterns of Judgment
Once you're observing your thoughts, you can start understanding your patterns of judgment. What do you tend to judge people for? Because they don't have much money? Because they're not intelligent? Because they're slow?
Your patterns of judgment matter because they indicate what you place value in for yourself. For example, when you're judging someone because they're not attractive, you're subconsciously placing your own self-worth in being attractive. You are worthy of love or respect or friendship because you are attractive and they are not.
These thoughts can be a reason for anxiety because if you stop being attractive, you won't be worthy of love or respect or friendship anymore. That's why it's dangerous to pin your self-worth on a value you can lose, instead of pinning it on simply your humanity.
Feel Good About You
Often, the people who judge the harshest are those who are insecure about the particular quality they're judging. Those insecure about their driving will judge poor driving harshly.
But when you have a positive self-image, you won't feel the need to use your insecurities as a reason to judge others. So once you've identified your patterns of judgment, it's time to work on yourself so you feel good about who you are and where you are in your journey.
Detach your sense of self-worth from your patterns of judgment. You are worthy of love not because you are wealthy, good-looking, intelligent, or any other changeable value. You are worthy of love because you are good and you are human.
Feel Their Pain
When you catch yourself judging someone, try to step into their shoes. Imagine what it's like being them. Feel their pain, their struggle. What's it like being old? Poor? Slow? Feel it consciously and your judgment will lose its power.
Ultimately, we are all more alike than we are different. We all need to eat food, all love our families, and all want to share our lives with someone. The person you're judging is just a person trying to figure things out, trying to solve problems the best way they can. And aren't we sometimes clumsy ourselves? We're all fallible and we're all in it together.
Don't Judge the Other Way
Sometimes, we don't judge people because they are lacking in something. Sometimes we judge because people are successful, happy, or rich. We think of them as less because they have more. They've always had it easy, we think. They never had big obstacles in their lives. They didn't have to go through a lot.
This isn't a healthy line of thinking either, because you're trying to maintain your sense of specialness by detracting other people. But none of these judgments are useful. If anything, they hurt you, because instead of trying to figure out how successful people made it, you're distancing yourself from them. So be careful not to judge the other way.
You can't force yourself to stop being judgmental. Don't try, because you'll start judging yourself for being judgmental. However, what you can do is be less harsh in your judgments and avoid acting on your judgments, because you're almost certainly judging on incomplete information.
Instead, detach your self-worth from your patterns of judgment and let go of the pressure that comes with it. Judging others is of very little use. Stop judging and become a more positive, happier person that people will enjoy spending time with.