Most of my life I have been defensive and quick to secretly judge the perceived negative traits of others. It’s been a bad habit of mine. Even into my later 20s, I remember browsing Facebook or various news feeds sifting through posts and articles until I found something that I could judge someone on. “I can’t believe she said that!” “This person is clearly an idiot” “What an asshole this guy is!” I remember spewing hateful inner dialogue all of the time. I’ve always been a non-confrontational person so my criticisms were mainly contained in my thoughts. It was my dirty little secret. It was unbeknownst to me that when I was judging others in this way, I was actually attempting to mitigate my own self-judgments and self-hatred by projecting it onto others.
As I am slowly growing to love myself in my 30s, I feel far less of a need to judge others. It’s like a compulsion that just vanished, although not entirely. I still struggle sometimes with reacting to people in certain ways but I am working on it day by day. For the most part though, I am not in that judgmental framework of mind nearly as much anymore. I am starting to develop a more loving and mature attitude towards myself and others. It requires patience for it is a slow and laborious process but I am beginning to see the fruits of freeing myself from that mindset. I think judging others involves four major things.
- Judging oversimplifies a person. Judgment is the death of nuance and focuses only on a temporary display of perceived negative traits from others without any relevant context for that person’s life and complexity.
- Judging is a defense mechanism. Judging is a way of soothing our own internal self-critical dialogue. By projecting our own faults onto others, we temporarily shift the burden onto others and alleviate negative feelings we harbor about ourselves.
- Judging is hypocritical in nature because often what we are judging in others is actually an aspect of ourselves. Judging is hating in others what we hate in ourselves. This may be conscious or subconscious.
- Judging is separating ourselves from others. Judging is detachment from others. It creates artificial barriers and extinguishes any potentiality for connection and engagement with someone else. It extinguishes opportunities to learn and to grow with and through someone else. It may temporarily cause a burst of validation but will slowly subside into a nagging loneliness.
Judging for me was about validating myself in some way. “I’m smarter than this person” “I’m more self-aware than this person” “At least I don’t act like that!” Judgment was there to fill a void. There was a distinct lack of love and acceptance I had for myself. Now that I am slowly attaining self-love, I feel no need to judge others. I don’t see the point in it anymore because it only served one primary function for me, it was an emotional band aid for a self-inflicted wound that wouldn’t heal. Now, through mindfulness, meditation, creating and engaging in things that I love, mending relationships with people and seeing relations grow, I am able to slowly heal that wound naturally and organically.
It’s crazy how clear our perception becomes through simply loving ourselves. I can see exactly what I was doing all of those years. I was miserable with myself and so I constructed strawmen out of people to bash and shame. Now that I am loving myself more and more every day, I am able to deeply love others more, to be open minded, to listen and be attentive to other’s stories and struggles. I am no expert. I’ve only just begun this journey of self-discovery and self-love but it’s inspiring to see the fruits of these endeavors, even if its just connecting with someone new or feeling love in my world where before I would feel fear or apprehension.
I actually had an experience this week with someone who I historically had despised. I had thought them arrogant and entitled in the past, in my own haze of delusion. I thought I would hear them out this week and be open minded since I am trying to be more compassionate and attentive nowadays. It turns out that I had completely misjudged and misrepresented this person in my mind. I found them to be thoughtful, inspiring, and actually quite humble. It’s amazing what we can learn from people when we shed the veneer of judgment and simply listen to others with an open heart, free from preconception and judgment. It was a beautiful learning experience for me.
We are all human, beautiful and complicated, trying to find our way through life, justifying our existence. If change is to come to anyone, it has to start within themselves. Loving yourself is the fountain to draw from for opening our minds and our hearts. Self-love is the foundation for encouragement, engagement, and fulfillment in life. That is where is starts. We have so much potential to love. We have so much potential to build each other up and slowly create a better world.
We can start today by looking ourselves in the mirror and saying “I love you. I accept you just as you are. I am perfect, bright, and beautiful.” We can allow ourselves to feel that message, to embody it. It’s also important I think for us to remember patience. Self-love is not built in a day but slowly cultivated over time with practice and discipline. We are worth the effort, I promise. By practicing and embodying self-love, we will slowly see no need to hurt or belittle others, but to uplift and empathize. Through loving and accepting ourselves, we learn to do the same with others. We can slowly step into the light, hand in hand, upwards and forever. What wonders we can create together when we work to love each other and build each other up! Much love ❤