On Judging Others

As parents, we try to teach our children not to judge others by any number of exterior factors, whether it is their race, size, religion, gender, hair color, clothing choice, the size of their home or the car they drive.  We want our children to make decisions about another person only after they have gotten to know that person. Yet in the spirit of wanting our children to stay safe, we are also teaching them about stranger danger and trusting their instincts.

Let’s face it.  Unfortunately we all still judge.  We just do.

Haven’t you ever been in a situation where you wondered why someone you barely know does not like you or is talking trash about you behind your back?  Haven’t you ever said out loud, “But she barely even knows me!”  That happened to me in the blogging community a few years ago.  It still stings.

One of my closest friends is a dentist.  She and her husband are in practice together.  New patients walk into their office every day and automatically assume that he is the dentist and she is his assistant even though both of their names are on the door.

Another friend of mine has a son with a rare form of Dwarfism.  He is eleven years old.  If you saw him standing at half the height of kids his age you probably would not think of him as a point guard on a basketball team.  Or would you?  Last weekend he made 12 of 15 free throws.

The child with Autism who cannot make eye contact with you or speak very clearly (if at all) may just know a hell of a lot more than you suspect.

The woman with the big house, the fancy car and the rock on her finger who you think is looking down at you through her Gucci sunglasses?  She may be on the verge of a nervous breakdown from spending so much time and energy (not to mention money) on keeping up with the Joneses.

I will make my own confession. Until the last three years or so, I thought people who lost their jobs were just not very good at them anyway, and I am sure that I judged them as such.  In my mind if there was downsizing, the company simply got rid of those who were not effective performers. It had never dawned on me that entire departments could get cut or that there may be bureaucratic legal matters to consider and sometimes pretty amazing performers just got screwed.

Everyone has been through something.

Having been through a difficult time in life does not give anyone the right to act like an ass, yet it is worth keeping in mind when judging another person.  Making blind judgments prevents us from getting to see the good that may lie beyond an exterior.  You never know what someone has been through or is going through.  You never know about their history, their interests, their wit, their strength, their intellect or their intent.

So if we can admit that we still judge, what can we do about that?  Honestly, I don’t have all the answers.  Perhaps we can judge based on instinct and intellect rather than on superficial nonsense.  Perhaps we can take the time to get to know someone to see if our initial judgments were valid.  Or perhaps we just make sure as hell that we judge others the same way we would want to be judged ourselves.

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  1. Chrissie D says:

    Interesting timing b/c yesterday I was at a baby shower for a girl who I really have never cared for…she is “sorta” like family and I did it because she attended mine and my hubby is close friends with her’s – you do these things for the people in your life. You just suck it up sometimes and deal.
    We’ve always been as different as night and day and while I did not hide my dislike of her from my husband, and had to tell him a few times we’d never be good friends, I tried for the past 5 years to have some compassion for her, acknowledge and understand her insecurities (because as you say, we’ve all been there), and I would give her another try. And she’s years younger than me and very insecure. Finally after yesterday and her crappy attitude and snide comments, I gave my husband an earful afterward that I was done. But 5 years is plenty of time to give someone a chance to grow up and be a better human and at 34, I was over wondering why she is how she is, and instead realized this girl was a toxic person and undeserving of me and my friendship.
    I agree we should all try to be more compassionate and less judgmental – at least recognize when we are and try to understand someone/something – but we also need to know when some people aren’t worth the effort of anything and cut them loose.

    • That is such a great point, Chrissie, and I could not agree more. Five years is plenty of time. Life is too short to waste any of it on toxic people.

  2. i try to teach my children not to judge and to remember, for every person they are judging, someone else is judging them.

    • Chrissie D says:

      So true!
      Sometimes I catch myself and I’m like, “Let it go…” Easier to do when you aren’t too attached to the person…harder when it’s a more meaningful relationship.
      But my time is better spent on other things…not judging someone else.

      When I was in college, I got some good advice because I was constantly dealing with unmet expectations. I was told, “Damn the act, not the person.” Because at 18 I was damning a lot of good people! Who were just…human. It was a very good lesson and it’s awesome to see how far I came with that after 5, 10 and now 15 years.

    • Jessica @FoundtheMarbles says:

      Great point!

  3. really wise and beautiful words. I recently had someone say to me – “you don’t do real work as a blogger”
    I was so taken aback that I found a come back hard to locate….but, later I thought to myself – shame on them…they should try to be me for a day.
    it still stings, though.

    • Chrissie D says:

      WOW. That person had balls.

      Something I learned a few years ago is so often people say inappropriate things simply to justify their own choices/decisions. I see this mostly with women asking me if/when I’m having another kid…and going ON about how I need to have more because of “blah blah blah…” LOL.

      I’d be willing to bet that person is envious that you project happiness about your career choices…
      A secure person wouldn’t even go there because it’s a non issue.

      I’ve come to the conclusion that so many women I know simply do not have strong women in their lives…mentors, whatever…and when they have the opportunity to be around a strong woman, the fear and intimidation takes over so the cycle of insecurity and judging continues to go around and percolate. It’s so sad to me. I came off of a month of conferencing and being around other independent and strong women, most small biz owners and I get so much respect and mentoring from them that coming home and dealing with the baby shower situation was like a bubble burst! Reality.

    • Jessica @FoundtheMarbles says:

      People don’t seem to understand what bloggers do or how much time it consumes. It’s sad that some people would rather bring one another down than life each other up.

  4. Well said, Jessica. I also believe judging others is another form of jealousy and self-hatred, so when someone’s being judgmental I try to find out what’s really hurting them instead of focusing on what they say about others. While I really work hard at not judging people, my tragic flaw is believing everyone is good at heart and holding them to a high ethical standard… and feeling disappointed when they fall short. But we ALL fall short, and I’m working on not judging myself too harshly either– I’m often my own worst critic!

    • Jessica @FoundtheMarbles says:

      I think I used to hold people to high standards too but over the last few years I’ve somehow stopped doing that.

  5. I agree this is something we all do. The trick is keeping the judgment in your head and not acting on it. Realizing that you could be wrong and not labeling someone because of your own issues. It’s hard, but it is also important, and totally worth it.

  6. I love this post, and, I love LOVE the quote from Billy Connolly to seal it! :)

  7. No matter how hard we try we always “judge” or have preconceived notions of people. Our brain is wired that way, however when we take it to those extremes it becomes a huge issue and often results in crazy behavior. Like moms attacking moms and so on.

    Thanks for bringing light to this issue with your post!

  8. You’re right. It is really hard not to judge people. It’s an honest person that admits to judging others and then tries to do better.

    For me the hardest thing to deal with are people who are negative and toxic and just stay stuck. I try hard not to judge them, though it’s difficult sometimes. I’ve gotten a lot better about setting boundaries and taking time off from the relationship when I need to. Still working on it, though.

    • Jessica @FoundtheMarbles says:

      I think you get to a point in life where it becomes much easier to identify and eliminate those toxic people from your world. Good for you for knowing when to set boundaries!

  9. great post Jess. judging and harshness can hurt. avoid the toxic people.

  10. Great post and so true. Sharing it now.

  11. Great to meet you, Jessica. Love your article here. It’s true – non-judgement is a great way to accept oneself and others. Peace!

  12. We all do make subconscious judgements, but the important thing is to realize they are judgements and not necessarily reality. Everyone has their own situations and experiences, and none of us, even if we have faced something similar, can understand what they are going through. To be honest I sometimes struggle with feeling envious of wealthy friends whom I assume have wonderful, easy lives. But in reality, we all have our struggles no matter what our circumstances and I try to always keep that in mind.

  13. This is a great post. What we see in others is sometimes a reflection of a characteristic of ourselves. Wonderfully written post!

  14. What a great post Jessica. You really nailed it. I know that I “know” I’m not supposed to judge others, it can be so hard sometimes. I try on a daily basis to remember that I don’t always know the full story of why a person acts the way they do. Compassion and understanding is always essential. It is so nice to know others who think the same way:)

  15. I love your point of view, Jessica. I don’t comment on a lot of blogs (let’s face it, I don’t READ a lot of blogs…) because I just don’t normally have a lot of time but yours is so refreshingly positive and provides such great perspective. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights, sweetie!! Loved this post. SO true (and the graphic quote – hilarious)! We’d be able to get to know SO much more about people if only we didn’t approach them with baseless presuppositions.

  16. I believe learning NOT to judge each other is the MOST important lesson we can learn and teach our children. It is the bottom line of everything. We will mess up on it constantly and we will even judge others for judging. We will never master it but we must never stop striving.

    • You are so right in that it is so important to teach our children not to judge others, yet all around them (especially on TV) they see people judging one another. It all goes back to the old do unto others as you would have done to you!

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