6 Questions to Ask Before Judging Someone
A call to action: edit the judgment.
There is not a day where we are not bombarded with other people’s opinions about what everybody else is saying, doing and wearing. Even on social media, everyone now thinks that their opinion, their “two cents,” is worth far more than that. There are entire web sites designed to ridicule what people wear to the market. We have become a culture that thinks our job is to evaluate and judge everyone else’s behavior and choices. What once was a rumor in the neighborhood is now public knowledge, cast in stone on the Internet, forever.
The problem with all this judgment is the wounding it causes. Some people are able to brush it off unafflicted, but most of us tend to allow the judgments of others to sink into our hearts and painfully impact us. As judgment and the public sharing of every assessment is on the rise, the world is becoming a less and less safe place to be. The more unsafe people feel, the more protective they get. This can lead to people not sharing their gifts and talents out of fear, thus robbing the world of up and coming talent. And, this unsafe environment can lead to people who either harm themselves or harm others, or both, as a reaction.
This issue is so systemic, that it is going to take a monumental effort to turn it around. The reality is, however, that the only people we can actually change are ourselves. So first, start with considering a few guidelines to help you edit your thoughts, words and actions.
Is the other person’s behavior actually your business? Before you judge (verbally or silently), or comment or post, ask yourself that question. This is an issue of responsibility. If what someone is doing is not hurting you or anyone else, leave it alone. Truly, what someone wears is not your business. How much someone eats, what they have in their shopping cart, what kind of car they drive, who they date, how much they weigh, what religion they belong to, what country they are from—none of these are anyone’s business but their own. Set yourself free from trying to control what everyone else does with your opinion of them. (It doesn’t work, by the way!)
This practice is harder when it is someone you love and you feel that what they do is your business. When it is your child it may be an opportunity to teach, rather than judge. When it is your spouse, it may be an opportunity to accept rather than judge. In some cases it may be an opportunity for you to do something different, but simply judging isn’t going to change anything.
Is your opinion the truth? Somehow our society has lost perspective on the difference between opinion, beliefs and the truth. Ultimately, one has nothing to do with the other. Just because you believe something, doesn’t mean it is true. Just because you feel a certain way, doesn’t mean it is justified. Take the time to evaluate the difference between your opinion and the truth. Soon you will discover that a huge majority of what you believe is only your opinion and there are plenty of other people who don’t believe the same thing—including the person you are judging.
Consider your opinion a hypothesis rather than the truth. Our world (both internal and external) would improve dramatically if we learned to view our thoughts as hypotheses rather than truths and then took the time to evaluate the evidence and consider other hypotheses that may be more purposeful.
Does it matter? Does what the other person is doing really matter to anyone but them? Does your opinion really matter to anyone but you? If you truly feel that your opinion matters or could improve the situation, take a deep breath and align with your commitment for the betterment of all involved. I have found that my opinions are far better received with they are shared with love and concern, rather than judgment.
Are your words, thoughts and actions purposeful or beneficial? Will your words or thoughts actually bring about change or only inflict pain? This is a good one to ponder not only about what you will actually do or say, but is it even beneficial to spend your time thinking judgmental thoughts?
Do you have compassion? When we actually take the time to discover what another person is or has been going through, what they are thinking, how they are feeling, we discover our first impressions or opinions are inaccurate. When we take the time to inquire before casting our opinion, it is time well spent.
We are all custodians of each other’s hearts. We need to take the time to remember our words and thoughts are going to land on someone else’s heart and take responsibility for what we say and do.
Start with one day. When you catch yourself judging, run your opinions through the above guidelines. When we each master our own thoughts and behavior, we will discover the power we have to actually change the world.