We couldn’t go a day without judgement. It’s programmed into our nature as humans and it plays an undeniably crucial role in our lives to make sure we don’t make all kinds of errors. We judge whether we can cram our car into that parking space we want (questionably so if you’re me), whether we need to pack an umbrella for the day (more often than not, thank you so much Manchester) and whether it is actually appropriate to wear your favourite Nike high-tops to that all important job interview (as much as I think they’re bloomin’ cool, sadly not).
It’s interesting then to note that this same process of judgement when applied to people rather than situations leads us to making all kinds of errors. And it’s frequently done. I know I’m certainly guilty of it both in the past and now, and it’s definitely not something I’m proud of…
“If you judge people, you have no time to love them” – Mother Teresa.
Mama T was definitely onto something here. Too often we make a snapshot decision about people based on what they’re wearing, their background/upbringing, or something they might say in the heat of the moment for example. That woman behind the Primark cash desk, while she may well be a particularly difficult character to contend with, she could then again just be having a bad day. Giving her the benefit of the doubt would save on lots of negative behaviour and unattractive personality traits on our part, but more often than not, we don’t. Why?
Here’s a nice, cold, hard home truth for you: we usually judge others because we need to feel better about ourselves. Ouch.
Another reason is simply boredom. We waste a lot of time through idle chatter and gossiping (cue a little flashback to my all-girls’ school education especially…). Let the word of concern here be waste, because that’s exactly what it all is – such behaviour is neither useful nor beneficial and only serves to create divisions between people. Admittedly it would take an infinite amount of energy, effort and time to form a bond with every person we encounter, but there are a few simple steps we can take that can help us avoid the essentially toxic and pointless habit of being judgemental.
A few little ways to curb that judging habit:
– If you are about be verbally judgemental, think actively about what you’re about to say. Will it offend, or hurt the other person? Is this criticism really either constructive or necessary? Are your intentions behind it honourable? If not, it is probably better to say nothing.
– Focus on the positives. I genuinely believe that there is something positive to find in the overwhelming majority of people, but all too often it’s the negatives that jump out at us first. Make an effort to search for something to compliment others on instead to try and break out of the judgement habit. Or, if you are thoroughly convinced that the person you are dealing with is the very manifestation of evil itself, then again, better to keep it zipped :).
– Think about how you would feel if unfair judgement was passed on you. You’d feel pretty violated, right? Many of us have been in that place before and it isn’t nice thing to experience. Treat others as you would wish to be treated, it really is as simple as that.
– If all else fails, or you are feeling particularly weak-willed, then there’s always the option of a monetary incentive – place a bet with a close friend that you can go 2 weeks without bitching or passing judgement, and see how you do…
So, in a nutshell – just remember that there’s always more to someone than initially meets the eye. Admittedly it isn’t the easiest thing to break a subconscious, practically innate habit such as this one, but I’m convinced the sense of satisfaction as well as a renewed positive attitude towards others is 100% worth it. Even if we only slash our gossiping time by half.
Here’s to spreading the love, guys.
(Plus, thinking about it now, putting myself in others’ shoes – if I worked at Primark during sale season then I’d probably be pretty darn cranky too…)