One of the things most of us are taught as children is to never judge others. “Don’t judge a book by its cover!” And yet, despite our best efforts, many of us fall into the trap over and over again. Why do we do it?

Here are four common reasons that explain this particularly bad habit of judging other people.

It Lets Us Feel Superior

Tearing other people down is one way people prop themselves up. By judging others harshly, we compare ourselves to them and find ourselves superior. Compared to their life, their behavior, their physique, we look pretty good! But this kind of comparison is false and unhealthy. Instead of finding faults in others, we would do much better to focus on how we can become our best selves.

It Helps Us Recognize Our Goals

Judging is a way for us to perceive the world and figure out where exactly we fit in. When we form opinions of others, we are able to recognize what we like and aspire to be, as well as what we don’t like and want to avoid.

It Uncovers Our Own Faults

More often than not, we are bothered by the qualities in others that we choose not to see in ourselves. We rail against another’s habits, appearance or lifestyle choices because they are the very ones we dislike in ourselves.

It Makes Us Feel Part of a Group

Occasionally, judging can make us feel part of a club. Let’s say there is a work situation where one person complains about something, and then another person agrees, and then another and another. Before you know it, a group has formed around negativity. Sometimes this negativity can be funny and based around a silly situation, but often the negativity can be at the expense of another.

How to Break the Judgement Habit

If you’ve recognized your tendency toward judgement, here are a few tips to break the habit:

  • Try to take a moment to understand where other people are coming from, and why they may look or behave the way they do.
  • Try to recognize your own insecurities, and work on building yourself up instead of tearing others down. Does their behavior mirror your own?
  • Examine your friendships and associations. Are they based on positivity or demeaning others? If the latter, disassociate yourself and focus on building connections based on positivity and mutual respect.

If you discover you have a tendency to judge others, and wonder whether it is based on your own low self-esteem, it may help to speak with a counselor, who can help you uncover the reasons behind it and offer possible coping strategies.

If you or someone you know is interested in exploring counseling, please get in touch today. We would be happy to discuss how we may be able to help.

Priscilla Hurd, LPC, M.Ed.

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