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Published on August 31, 2020

Why Constantly Judging Others Is No Good For You

Why Constantly Judging Others Is No Good For You

When it comes to judging other people, I think it’s inherent in all of us to do it to some degree. But do you know how judging others impacts yourself and the things in life you want?

Let’s explore what judging others can do when you do it correctly or incorrectly, and I will share some easy techniques to control your judgmental desires.

Why Do We Judge People?

We have intelligent brains, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. I see it with clients I coach every day who realize that their mind does everything to protect them.

It’s not you who’s doing the judging. Instead, it’s your brain – usually the subconscious part – that’s doing all the work. You are just going along with it, not challenging it. (Learn about the brain’s mistakes here: 7 Mistakes Your Brain Makes Every Day – And How To Fix Them)

If you go back to our prehistoric ancestors, it was our bigger brain and ability to judge, decipher, and conceptualize things that ensured our safety and existence in the 21st century. As the University of California’s evolutionary theorist, Rob Boyd, said, “Think about what is necessary to live in Alaska. You’d need a kayak, a harpoon, and a float not to sink. Nobody invents a kayak. People learn the proper way to make a kayak from others.” [1]

Hence, some judgment will always be useful. You need to be mindful of how, when, where, and why you are giving that judgment.

Among the many reasons why we judge people, we mainly do it to stay safe. When you walk down the street, for instance, your brain is working on ensuring your safety, so you judge others’ actions before they do anything. That’s obvious, right? But what will you do when it happens at work or more subtly in your life?

Here’re 2 examples with my clients that show why judging others is bad for anyone:

The Corner Cutter

I want to share a story about my client, who was so fed up with a team member who always finished work at 5 P.M. sharp and was notoriously known for cutting corners. No one seemed to have an issue with it except my client. It infuriated my client and damaged their career. They claimed that the corner-cutting team member was the problem, but it wasn’t. It was them.

You see, you could never change other people, but my client’s brain made them think that their career success depended on what everyone else was doing. That is a fast step towards disaster. It’s impossible to get everyone to work in the same way as you do. Eventually, my client convinced the company to coach their team. We discovered that no one saw this person as a corner cutter, though. Seething, my client reported dozens of occasions in which their team member didn’t do their tasks and judged the person on their personal standards.

When I coached the whole team together, we could see the disparity between what my client thought was going on and what was genuinely happening.

The corner cutter ended up asking, “Do you read everything everyone sends you? How do you get anything done?”

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My client exclaimed, “Doesn’t everyone do that?!”

While the client saw a lack of precision and carelessness in the corner-cutting team member, other people were merely focusing on their area of expertise and letting others get on with their jobs. Thankfully, my client is now back on track and achieving more because judging others undoubtedly wore them down.

Being on a Pedestal

People often looked at me in horror whenever I said, “Everyone is doing the best that they can with what they perceive they have.”

It’s tough to see bad things happening in your life and not judge others based on your own standards, but remember that not everyone is you. Our brains jump into automatic overdrive and tell us they are!

Imagine everyone is standing on a tall column like a pedestal made up of lots of blocks. Each block comes in the forms of:

  • Experiences
  • Your beliefs at this time
  • Your values (which can also change)

Now, imagine removing all the matching blocks on the pedestal. Can you see how you can be left with people who are more superior or inferior to you?

Let’s apply this idea in a real-world scenario. Another client of mine was annoyed with anyone who messed up at work. Some awful things happened to them as a young adult, and it taught them always to do the right thing. Never break the law, forever abide by rules, and if someone tells you to do something, you do it!

When people didn’t live the same way as they did, my client felt disrespected, unloved, undermined, and unappreciated. Could you imagine what impact it had on their life and success?

Though the client tried to hide it from us, we helped them see that the people around them didn’t share the same experiences, so they couldn’t see the world through their eyes. The first sign that my client was changing was seeing them walk in the room, grinning.

“I didn’t feel crossed today,” the client said. When I asked what they meant, they explained that they got behind the wheels without ranting about others’ poor driving skills.

One of the little exercises I set for the client was to imagine that the person driving in front of them was not an idiot or buffoon (their words, not mine). Instead, it was someone who was driving for the first time after getting involved in a big crash, a sick child who’s on the way to the hospital, or a parent who made a cake for their daughter’s wedding. It helped them change their perspectives about why people do things.

“When you judge others, you do not define them — you define yourself.” — Earl Nightingale

How to Stop Judging Others

A lot of people struggling to stop judging others tend to be control freaks. (Mind you; being a control freak is not a bad thing. It can be an excellent thing if you can manage it well). Control freaks like things a certain way and are good at getting positive results in life, so they feel as if their actions are validated.

The issue is that it doesn’t happen to everyone, so you can easily find yourself rubbed the wrong way. That’s when they say things such as:

  • “It has to be done that way.”
  • “They never do what I ask.”
  • “I could never do that.”
  • “That’s impossible.”

It is typically enough for me to call out a client regarding the finality of their words and try to shift their perception about people, their actions, and outcomes in life so that it does not become a problem again.

When you use words with finality, your brain sees the ultimate end destination and doesn’t notice any possibilities around it.

Of all the things you can do to make a judgment not an issue, you may look out for the assumptions you make in your head about others, what is possible, and what you think about your personal and professional life.

1. Communicate

If you struggle with the above concept, communicate it to others. There is a difference between gossiping and wanting to understand something. I was talking to someone who had a similar hardship to my family member. They told me it was impossible to talk to my relative. I explained how my conversations with the said relative started with things like, “I would like to share how I feel about something” instead of what my friend was saying, which was, “Why do you have to do that all the time?!”

Be mindful of your phrasing and style of language. If you are looking to remove judgment from your relationships, ditch the “why” word. It adds blame and guilt to the question. But if it goes like, “What do you think the reasons are…,” it takes the responsibility away from you and enables you to have difficult conversations with someone.

2. Try to Understand What Others ACTUALLY Need

Often, when we go through something, we get judged because of it. If you want to see this in action, tell people at work, at the gym, or home, “I had a bad sleep again last night.”

Suddenly, you will be inundated by people who want to offer the perfect solution for you. I know this because a good few years on a chemo medication for my lupus robbed me of sleep, and I became fascinated by how many ideas people had, especially when they were making assumptions about why I couldn’t sleep. Some of them were:

  • “You need to get off your phone.”
  • “You work too hard.”
  • “You don’t do anything to relax.”
  • “You can’t drink coffee in the afternoon.”

The list could go on and on and on and rarely were they right. Those folks did not even bother to ask if I was on a medication that was notorious for causing severe insomnia. Still, I didn’t get mad at them because the bottom line was that these people were just trying to help. When you realize that, you can reshape the way you see the world.

Another excellent example of that is a new parent. Their baby is crying in a public space, and they fear that everyone thinks that they have poor parenting skills. The irony is that it’s the very opposite thought that most people have, which usually sounds like, “That poor Mom/Dad! I’ve been there — no sleep, loving their beautiful bundle, but worried sick that I would mess up or, worse, miss something wrong!” Most new parents are not quick to realize that bringing a baby to a restaurant lets them earn comments like, “Oh bless, new parents! It’s a hard time, but it’s amazing!”

3. Reframe Your Mindset to See How Others Judge You

Have you thought about how judging someone or being judged ruins your life?

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“We don’t judge people when we feel good about ourselves.” — Brene Brown

Keep in mind that judging people is done to keep us safe. We want to help others, even though we really can’t help ourselves. If we don’t wade in with a view, we could look like we don’t care. At the most basic level, humans need other humans.

People struggle with others’ opinions, especially when they are told to move on with their life and get over something. That’s easier said than done for some people, though. By inserting yourself in their case, you stop the other person from finding the best solutions for them.

You may bounce out of bed after a breakup, for instance, and think, “They aren’t holding me back!” Meanwhile, others may need time to overcome their grief and reflect before they move on.

I see my clients in this situation all the time. Some want to concentrate on the future and define what they want. Others need to go back to understand what they got and didn’t want. Which one do you identify with?

Judging what you would do based on what someone has to do is ludicrous. So, curb the voice that wants to say, “If that happened to me, I’d get up and keep going. You can’t give up now; otherwise, they’d win.” Lucky for you, you don’t know how to deal with it because you will not go through the same ordeal. If you are in doubt, it is best to listen and keep any advice to yourself.

4. Challenge Yourself to Look Beyond the Obvious

The pandemic has done many awful things, but I feel like it has helped to level the playing field. If everyone is the size of a small box on your screen, and you can’t see their footwear, smartphone, clothing, watch, etc., you lose your ability to view another person.

Challenge yourself with these statements:

They drive a new car. They must be good at their job.”

(Someone could be up to their eyes in debt, struggling with their life and scared that people would discover who they were or who they thought they were!)

They have no pride in themselves. Their clothes are always screwed up or dirty!”

(A person could be a full-time carer who worked from 9 to 5 and was lucky to get five minutes to themselves a week. In reality, are they not more dedicated and hardworking than most people you work with?)

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“They are so together and always make time for me no matter how busy they are. I wish I could be that brilliant.”

(Someone could be harboring deep fears, thinking, “I’ve got to help everyone.” Unfortunately, they are nearly burnt out, depressed, and struggling to function because they fear what others will think of them if they don’t do everything that others need and want.)

This is how judging people can be so dangerous.

But is there a time when you can judge others?

When Should You Judge Others?

The same reasons that can stop people from speaking up in a crowd help fuel domestic violence, discrimination, and injustices in the world. As the founder of The Business Womans Network, we have helped those affected by domestic violence many times.[2]

In every case, it wasn’t just the victim who feared being judged — the people around them feared receiving judgments, too. We often heard how neighbors or friends “had their suspicions” but did nothing. They did not want to judge others and assumed that everything was alright.

In people’s defense, new research suggests that our brain causes this bystander effect.[3] Interestingly, it proves that we need to look to the world around us — our network of connections — to create a judgment. Then, ask yourself, “How are others responding to it?”

If something feels off in their response, your brain may be up to no good as it tries to ensure that you fit in.

But it is in “not fitting in the world” that things get better. Sometimes, speaking up is not at all easy. Judging others on a new standard is a big challenge, so build your confidence first and keep going no matter what.

Rosa Parks, Emmeline Pankhurst, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi – our history is fuelled by people who judged and decided that it wasn’t good enough.

I’ve helped individuals speak up against workplace bullying and discrimination. On every occasion, everyone knew what’s going on, but only my client had the preferred outcome, strategy, communication skills, mindset, and action plan to make a change.

Remember: finding the judgment can keep you safe, but it can also keep you stuck.

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More on Understanding Judgments

Featured photo credit: Adi Goldstein via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Mandie Holgate

Coach, International BEST Selling Author, Speaker & Blogger helping thousands around the world.

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Published on September 25, 2020

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

5 Powerful Self-Care Ideas for When Life Is Stressful

Stress doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone, invariably in different ways. Regardless of how stress shows up in your life, I think we can all agree that it’s present. When it does show up, it takes over the show. It then becomes difficult to stay in the present moment or show gratitude for what and who we have in our life. In the eye of the stress storm, everything is tossed around into oblivion. This is probably when self-care finally comes to our mind.

How Does Stress Show Up?

On a physical scale, stress tends to be behind many of our typical ailments, such as headaches, insomnia, muscle tension, or body aches and pain.[1] When we’re in stressful situations, our body activates our fight-or-flight response. According to the American Institute of Stress, when the body is in this mode due to stress, “the body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated due to the sudden release of hormones. The sympathetic nervous system stimulates the adrenal glands, triggering the release of catecholamines, which include adrenaline and noradrenaline. This results in an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.”[2]

Why is this important? While our fight-or-flight response is extremely helpful when we’re in situations that risk our survival, not every situation is that dire. However, the body doesn’t know how to differentiate between such scenarios. Rather, we become accustomed to seeing every stressful situation as dire, and essentially locked into this fight-or-flight response automatically. This causes us to burn out because our body is constantly fighting or fleeing from threats that are not causing us any real harm.

On a mental and emotional scale, according to the Mayo Clinic, “Stress symptoms can affect your body, your thoughts and feelings, and your behavior.” Everything is interconnected. When our physical body takes a toll due to stress, this has a domino effect on how we process our thoughts and feelings. Therefore, it is not uncommon to see correlations between depression and anxiety when it comes to dealing with stress.

How to Combat Stress?

Below are five self-care ideas for combating stress in your life. Consider implementing them into your daily routine for the best results.

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1. Start a Brain Dump Writing Exercise

When you’re overwhelmed with thoughts, it can become very difficult to stay present and focused. This could affect you at work, in school, or in your relationships. It’s as if your mind were filled to the brim with thoughts that are constantly competing for your attention. If left unattended, this can affect your performance or your state of being. Stress is just brewing!

One exercise to get this under control is called a Brain Dump, and it’s exactly how it sounds. Start by getting comfortable with a pen and paper or your favorite journal. Without any special formatting or introduction, just start writing any and all thoughts that come up. Consider your paper a blank canvas onto which you’re going to spill every thought, no matter how small or unimportant. This can look like a laundry list, a jumble of words, or a paragraph. Don’t think too much of how it looks. The idea is to give your thoughts an exit. Once they’re on paper, they’re no longer swimming in your head for attention.

Once you have them written down, leave them as they are. We have a tendency to want to fix our thoughts. Instead, allow them to simply exist as they are — they’re not right or wrong. Consider coming back to this exercise daily or whenever you feel like you have a lot on your mind.

2. Sweat It Out

There is nothing more therapeutic than moving the physical body when it feels the weight of stress. Energetically, we carry our day in our body! If we’ve had a particularly difficult day, that energy is going to feel tense and unsettling. This is why it’s so important to move and really break a sweat!

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America,[3]

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“Scientists have found that regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease overall levels of tension, elevate and stabilize mood, improve sleep, and improve self-esteem.”

Find what exercise regimen works for you, and commit to it for a few days per week. Scientists have also found that even 10-15 minutes of aerobic exercise can have a tremendous effect on your body. Go for a run, take a spin class or a power yoga class, or dance the stress away in Zumba. Whatever gets your heart rate up and breaks a sweat is one of the perfect self-care ideas to keep the stress away.

3. Seek the Care of a Therapist

Sometimes writing out our thoughts and feelings doesn’t seem quite enough. This is common and to be expected. After all, we are complex human beings who want to understand and process our emotions on a deeper level. This is why having a regular therapy session is so beneficial!

In the presence of a professional, we can open up about what stressful situations we’re going through. We don’t have to keep our emotions bottled up, and we know that our honesty will be protected and safeguarded.

Additionally, when we’re feeling stressed, we often want to simply vent and get things off of our chest. Having someone on the receiving end who will simply listen and hold space is a truly healing gift. We can often leave the session feeling more empowered, seen, and offloaded of the stress we brought in.

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Lastly, we may be able to receive guidance from our therapist on a particular situation we’re struggling with. Having someone else’s perspective on something we’re too emotionally close to can be just the right solution.

Here are more self-care ideas from a therapist: Self Care Tips During Difficult Times (A Therapist’s Advice).

4. Interrupt Your Day

This may seem like a derailing technique, but give it a shot! Interrupting your day means introducing something entirely new or random into a routine that is very monotonous or typical.

If your work or school day is the same sequence of events every single day, bringing in an interruption can be quite conducive to your productivity and creativity. This can look like pausing in the middle of the day for a yoga stretch at your desk or in your office. It could be playing your favorite playlist in-between meetings or taking a walk outside for lunch. Not only does this stir up new energy for your day, but it can also de-stress your day.

As I said in the earlier tip, when we’re too close to a situation or conflict, we have a harder time breaking away. We’re so emotionally and mentally invested that we don’t see how that proximity is affecting our health. So, interrupt yourself when you’re feeling stress coming on, and do something fun, random, and refreshing.

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5. Get Some Energy Work Done

Energy work is anything that is being done to improve the circulation and energetic flow of the body. This could be a massage, Reiki session, chiropractic adjustment, or acupuncture. As I said in a previous tip, moving the body helps move the energy that is blocked or stuck. This is why exercise is so important. However, sometimes we need a session where that work is done for us by a licensed professional. In such treatments, we have the luxury to relax and receive the benefits of the treatment. It’s a beautiful way to self-care!

Final Thoughts

Stress is unfortunately a common part of our life. It affects everyone, but to what extent it affects you is personal. One thing is for sure, and that is that stress has a tremendous effect on our physical, mental, and emotional state. This is why regular exercise is so important, as well as mental stimulation and emotional release. These self-care ideas won’t necessarily guard you from ever feeling stressed, but they will help you manage it better.

More Self-Care Ideas

Featured photo credit: Alisa Anton via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] Mayo Clinic: Stress Management
[2] The American Institute of Stress: How the Fight or Flight Response Works
[3] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Physical Activity Reduces Stress

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