How to Become Less Judgmental

Author: August Clarke

“Everything we judge in others is something within ourselves we don’t want to face.” – Anonymous

All of us have some experience with judgment, whether that means being the object of it or the one handing it out. While most don’t generally aspire to be considered “judgemental”, sometimes it just happens. Unfortunately, even unsaid, unconstructive criticism is rarely helpful for either the recipient or the judge.

“Why should I try to be less judgemental?”

By letting go of some more judgemental tendencies, you can strengthen your relationships with the people around you. Every time you meet someone, they are imprinting a first impression on you (and you on them). Sometimes when we judge too early, it can affect the way we interact with those people and rob us of meaningful relationships we might develop in the future.

If you find yourself judging others often, it means your mind is probably spinning a constant narrative of negativity, which is just plain exhausting to maintain. When you judge another person, what you are really doing is making a comparison between yourself and them. Odds are, this means that for every comparison you make that makes you feel better about yourself, you are probably making another one that makes you feel worse.

By forgiving other people for their faults, it makes it easier to become more accepting of your own.

“But August, how can I do that?”

Becoming a less judgemental person isn’t always easy. It requires you not only to be kinder to the people around you but to be kinder to yourself. The following are four tips to consider that will hopefully help you do that.

1. What is your “ideal?”

We all have an “ideal” – an ideal life, an ideal friend, an ideal self. A lot of the time we subconsciously project this image of how we want our life to be or how we believe it should be on ourselves as well as others and doing so can lead to unpleasant feelings of judgment.

Before you can deal with your judgemental thoughts, you have to recognize them when they are happening and try to locate the cause. This can be tricky, but it helps if you are self-aware. Try to think about what your ideal is. What kind of traits do you look for in your friends? Your girlfriend or boyfriend? What kind of person do you want to be? And how do you react when others don’t match the image in your head?

Usually, when you judge someone, it is because they represent an element of dissatisfaction with yourself or your life.

Usually, when you judge someone, it is because they represent an element of dissatisfaction with yourself or your life. Recognizing this will help you to remove your focus from other people’s flaws and address what it is that is actually bothering you.2

2. Get the full story

Next time you catch yourself judging a friend or someone else, stop yourself and try to think about things from their point of view. If you know them, talk to them.

For example, if your best friend told you that she got back together with her ex-boyfriend who you think treated her poorly, you’ll probably wonder why your friend would go back to him despite all his faults. Before jumping to unkind conclusions about your friend (“she’s desperate”, “she’s a push-over”, “this is so stupid”), hear her out. Ask questions! Usually, the truth is more complicated than the conclusions we jump to.

3. Try to balance each judgemental thought with a contrasting positive one

One of the most common and casual judgments I hear my peers comment on at my school is the way people dress. For example, if a girl is wearing a revealing top, a judgemental person might think, “that girl just wants attention.”

If you find yourself feeling that way when you assess the people around you, try counterbalancing each negative thought with a more positive one. Instead of pegging the girl wearing a mini-skirt as an attention-seeker, reframe it in an empowering way. For instance, “that girl must have a lot of confidence and feel comfortable in her skin.”

By practicing this, it will change the way that you view other people. If you link every negative judgment you have with a positive one, it can help you become a more accepting person.

4. Stop treating life like it’s a competition

As I talked about already, judgment often stems from the need to compare ourselves with the people around us. A lot of the time the most judgemental people are the ones who are also most insecure about themselves and are looking for ways to make themselves feel more superior in their external environment.

Everyone has their own unique set of flaws and strengths. Rating them against each other is kind of like trying to measure how tall a skyscraper is with a ruler. It may work in theory, but you’ll never actually attain an accurate measurement.

It’s important to remember that life is not a competition! The more confident you are in yourself, and the less you compare yourself with the people around you, the less judgemental you will probably be