Judging others: So easy, so entertaining, so widespread. But sadly, also completely contradictory to good mental health.
The other day I did my own little experiment and noticed how many times in an hour I made a judgmental comment (in my head – I was on the treadmill) about either myself or others. I lost count at 25. Yikes. Now, I didn’t speak these judgments out loud, but they were there just the same. Things like:
“Why did she choose that shirt, ick”
“She totally looks better than me!”
“Who chose this awful music on the loud speaker?”
All those judgments flying every which way got me thinking: How does a judgmental attitude affect mental health? Here are some thoughts:
Passing judgment (on ourselves and others) keeps us from being fully present in our lives. Life is full of things to notice and be a part of. If we spend the bulk of our time formulating judgments, what might we be missing? A quiet, peaceful hour on the treadmill? The joy of watching our kids play sports or act on stage? A entertaining conversation with a friend?
No one ever wins. Judging ourselves, judging others; comparing ourselves to others. All these things lead to the same end: a downward spiral to misery and disappointment. When it comes to judgment – no one ever ends up feeling good.
Judging others can make us paranoid that others are judging us, too. Judging others has the nasty side effect of making us feel that we, ourselves are being judged – even when we’re not. As in: “What are the neighbors going to think when they see me driving this old, dented car?” See? Not so good.
We all want to spend time with non-judgmental people. Think about some of your favorite people to spend time with. I’d be willing to bet that most of them steer clear of judging, or gossiping about others. Sure, it’s fun for a minute, but this behind-the-back judgmental attitude has a pretty nasty aftertaste. Supportive, interesting (and interested), funny friends are the ones that give us longer-lasting feelings of warmth and closeness.