Judge Less – Pause More
If I had a nickel for every time I have heard, read or even thought – “don’t judge!!!” I could literally sail off to another world and not GAF about what anyone thought of me or what I thought of anyone else. Literally.
Unfortunately, we don’t get paid for keeping ourselves in check. What we do get are frustrations and confusion – about this seemingly uncontrollable & sometimes even involuntary urge to judge others… then, the guilt associated with the realization that we did it…and then we sort of turn on ourselves and start “self-judging” for “JUDGING” in the first place. Insane? Turns out… not so much.
First, lets get some definitions out of the way;
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “judging” (as a verb) as follows: to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises
Second, Why Do We Do It?
We’ve ALL heard this one…
When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.
Although I don’t entirely disagree with this sentiment… I don’t think it applies in all cases & I don’t think its that simple all the time. (In case you haven’t figured it out yet…I see everything in shades of gray… I don’t believe that much of anything is black and white.)
OK or NOT OK to Judge? Example 1
I do agree that “judging” other people – generally speaking, is not a good thing…mostly because its done A LOT in reference to things that are NONE OF OUR BUSINESS in the first place. I try to keep myself in check about it, and in the times I can’t avoid it – I try to keep it to myself when possible (inside voice-inside voice-inside voice) But… (just for sh&%s & giggles) – using these examples – do you think its “OK” to judge someone?;
- You are interviewing women for a nanny position for your 4 month old infant. A woman appears at your door for her appointment – 15 minutes late. Multiple facial piercings. Curses several times throughout the interview. At the same time, she seems nice and shows an interest in your baby. What do you do?
- A) Try to shove down your instinctual urge to judge her and convince yourself that she deserves a chance regardless of her appearance and tardiness?
- B) JUDGE THE HELL OUT OF HER until that voice talking to you in scenario A balls up in the fetal position and rocks herself to sleep?
For me, I choose B (and I actually did choose B when this exact scenario happened to me when I was searching for a nanny for Sadie). When it comes to your kids, I say judge all you need to. When the consequences of getting it wrong are the safety, health or even the life of another human being… I don’t think you owe anything to anyone except the person(s) you are responsible for. If this is wrong…I don’t need to be right.
To be clear, I interviewed everyone the same – even that woman. She toured my home, met my baby, sat & visited with me and answered all of my questions. I did not do or say anything (I hope) that would have potentially hurt her feelings or made her feel uncomfortable. But in the end, I had to make a judgement call – and that’s just how it is.
OK or NOT OK To Judge? Example 2
- You meet a potential romantic interest for the first date. After you are seated, he is rude to the server. Talks over you as he mansplains everything. Makes several off color comments about your hair. At the same time; He speaks intelligently. Seems interested in you. Has a great career and picks up the check. What do you do?
- A) Run like Hell?
- B) Run like Hell faster?
- C) Accept his invitation to head back to his place
Sorry this one is a no-brainer for me, its B all the way. Speaking for myself again, I have learned (the hard way) to tune into my inner voice…and SHE is a judgmental bitch from Hell. She keeps me safe. Her #1 priority is to help me avoid pain, bad situations and disasters. I don’t always act on her advice, but I always listen to it.
The guy in the scenario above is made up… but if I encountered him on a date I would make a judgement call because he is displaying too many traits that I have come to recognize as pitfalls or red flags. He VERY WELL could be a really nice person -maybe having an off day…but the consequences of being wrong about that could land me in a situation that I have experienced before and want to avoid ever being in again.
Call It What You Will
My point is that (in my opinion) there are times when it makes sense for purposes of safety or self preservation or just plain practicality to assess the situation, formulate an opinion based on the facts you have and make a decision about how to proceed. Especially given a situation where making the WRONG judgement could have dire consequences.
Perhaps “Judgement” in these types of circumstances could be referred to as “critical thinking.” (If semantics makes you feel better.)
The Truth is, We ALL Judge Other People
We meet people and immediately without even knowing it usually begin to size them up. We do this mostly to figure out if we can trust them – and if we think they are competent. (It’s true) We still think from a primitive perspective about survival – “Is this person going to hurt or help me?” and “Is this person SMART enough to hurt or help me?”
This is how we make friends, find partners, hire employees, choose doctors…etc… We judge (even if its only in our own minds) other people to figure out if they belong in our lives or not. It is also how we keep ourselves and our children safe in situations that are concerning or uncertain.
Research shows that we judge others based on 3 key areas;
Morality: when we judge someone’s morality, we judge them based on how well they treat other people. Specifically, though, this judgment is about whether they treat others in “correct” and “principled” ways. Honesty, trustworthiness, and sincerity, for example, are morality judgments.
Sociability: when we judge someone’s sociability, we judge them based on how much they treat other people in ways to promote affectionate relationships. Examples of this type of judgment would be how friendly, likable, and kind, the person seems.
Competence: when we judge someone’s competence, we judge them based on how capable we think the person is at accomplishing his or her goals. Whenever you judge someone’s intelligence, skillfulness, and confidence, you’re making a competence judgment. (Source & full article: http://socialpsychonline.com/2016/10/judging-people-psychology/ )
When Judging Turns Ridiculous
Okay, now that we have the facts & common sense aspect out of the way… lets talk RIDICULOUS. (Yes…that is me judging a little bit.)
I think where it gets out of hand is that we feel compelled to VOICE our judgements to other people – hoping that they will then somehow validate us in the judgement or validate that we ARE judging. (Probably because we weren’t comfortable with the judgement in the first place and we need some group comfort that we did the right thing – in doing the wrong thing.)
Hiding Behind Social Media
SOCIAL MEDIA has provided quite a cushy platform to feel better about judging other people – and I personally hate it because;
- I have done it myself
- Seemingly normal, kind and happy people berate others without the facts
- Good people get hurt or ruined over assumptions & made up “facts”
- Mob mentality sets off a feeding frenzy for endless judging online
- There is no accountability or consequences from behind the safety of a computer screen
Don’t forget “mean girl” syndrome – you know, the one who has the posse of other “mean girls in training.” She does something mean or “judge’y” and then looks to her gang for approval…which she receives immediately (whether they agree or not) – so THEY aren’t the ones being judged. (Peer pressure never seems to go out of style.)
Judging Someone for NOT Judging Someone
Recently, I saw a local news article posted on social media about a mother who had smuggled alcohol into a movie theater by way of her son’s sippy cup. She brought her 2 young children with her that day and as the movie scrolled across the screen…she allegedly became intoxicated and then was unable to care for her kids- who at some point became distressed and other movie goers started complaining. The mom attempted to leave the theater in her car – with the kids. The authorities were called and the mother was taken to the hospital for care & treatment & then arrested. (The rest of the details aren’t relevant to my point but you can read about the incident here.)
What I found fascinating and disturbing was what happened after I commented on the social media post. All of a sudden – people who were judging this mom… were now judging ME because I wasn’t judging her! (See full post here) I felt like I was clear in my comment, that I wasn’t condoning her actions but rather stating the we don’t know the whole story – and since everyone is ok, let’s hope she is getting some help. Me arriving at that thought – came after a “pause” on my part… because if I am honest – my brain was really trying to judge her in the first few minutes after I read the article.
This was my comment on the post;
In the few minutes after the article about the movie theater mom…I ran through several ideas in my mind. My gut reaction was “omg… what was this mom thinking??” and then from there…I literally asked myself, “Wow, for real…what was she thinking? Or was she thinking? If she wasn’t thinking – why is that?” I “paused” for a few minutes and really thought about what would have to be happening in my life for me to behave so recklessly with my life and the lives of my kids. I concluded that something seriously bad must have been going on with her, and I sincerely hoped that she was able to get whatever help she needed. Because of the “pause” – I was able to get past my judgement of her and find some compassion which I truly believe she needed. What happened inside me after that felt good. It felt so good that even after reading the nasty comments directed at ME on the post… I still felt good & didn’t feel any desire to defend my position to the angry mob on the post. It was a great exercise in keeping my judgement in check & rerouting it into something positive.
How Many of You Remember This Mom?
A while back (2016) – a photo of a young mother in an airport went viral on social media. Remember? She was sitting in a row of seats in a terminal, cell phone in hand…and her baby was laying on a blanket in the floor in front of her. Some random stranger in the airport took “judgement” to the next level…and posted the photo to social media with the caption,”I fear the day that technology will take on our humanity … the world will be populated by a generation of idiots.” This random person did not know the mother being photographed nor her circumstances at the time. (He also credited Albert Einstein with the quote…he got that wrong too.) I find it wildly ironic that the person who snapped the photo cited a quote (incorrect as it may be) about technology, humanity and idiots… and yet failed to connect the dots to see how he himself was actually proving the sentiment to be true with his actions. Things that make you go hmmmmmmm.
The REST of the Story
It turns out that the mother in the photograph was Molly Lensing – and her baby daughter was 2 months old at the time the picture was snapped without Molly’s permission. She had spent over 20 hours with her baby in airports after an airline computer shut-down. Flights were being canceled and rerouted and Molly was caught up in the ordeal. The photo of her on the phone was real… she was trying to let her family members know where she was, that she was ok and updating them on the situation. The today.com article offered a statement from Molly about that day;
“Anastasia had been held or in her carrier for many hours. My arms were tired. She needed to stretch. And I had to communicate with all the family members wondering where the heck we were.”
The position she was put in is unbelievable…but since the photo went viral on social media – I can understand how she would want to defend herself. All of it started from someone being judgmental about a situation that had nothing to do with them. I wonder how much better Molly would have felt if “that same person” had offered to HELP her – instead of judging her & grossly invading her privacy? Even if it was just to sit & keep her company for a few minutes…that is probably all it would have taken to learn enough to form an entirely different opinion.
What Have We Learned?
Hopefully we can practice the “Judge Less – Pause More” idea. Trust me, it works…but it does take practice. Ask yourself “Why am I feeling this way about this situation?” Look INSIDE for the answers first. It might be just enough distraction to move you away from bothering some poor unsuspecting person who likely doesn’t need you in their business. Save judgments for what really matters – health, safety, practicality – when it IS your business. Personally, I found the research on the subject very interesting – I recommend doing a little searching and reading on your own about “why we judge other people” and “the psychology of judging others” – its fascinating.
I am making a personal vow to work diligently on this every day. In my crusade to be a better me…I am pretty sure this will have the biggest impact on my life, my inner peace and it will help me grow as a person. JUDGE LESS – PAUSE MORE …join me! More coming soon on #pause.