Being judgemental about everyone and everything that happens around us limits our abilities to understand the diversity among the human beings. Judging the behaviour of neighbours, work colleagues or friends in front of others with whom we are in close relationships can be a personal choice to maintain the bond with those close to us. Even more, women who gossip are happier, according to a study at the University of Michigan. But, being judgemental with the loved ones can ultimately affect negatively everyone involved.
I doubt there is a human being who likes to be judged. At least, I and the persons that I know dislike to hear criticism from others regarding our actions and behaviours.
Why does it bother us to hear that we did something wrong in other person’s opinion? Are we afraid that our freedom of expression is being constrained? After all, it’s simply a point of view expressed by someone. Whatever the reason, we do get hurt by criticism and without being aware, we fight judgement with judgement.
Everybody is fast at judging others, and I am not an exception. It is human to observe and form opinions about the people around us, and especially those close to us will hear more of these opinions with less sugar coating. For example, a wife can tell to her husband, “You did wrong when you didn’t inform me about being late”.
The Bible strongly advocates for not judging others, “Judge not, and you will not be judged.” (Luke 6:37), “who are you to judge your neighbour.“(James 4:11-12)
“One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgement on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.” (Romans 14:1-13)
The point of reference for judging is our inner world of beliefs, principles, and emotions. When other people actions don’t fit with our reality, we disapprove them.
We could try to refrain from speaking out loud our judgemental thoughts, especially to those people close to us. But if our tongues are tingling with words of judgement and we speak our mind, it’d be for everyone’s best to do it with reservation and with the presumption that our opinions are not the objective truth.
In the above example, when the wife scolds her husband for not informing that he’d be late, it would make a huge difference for the mood of both of them if she humbly assumed that she does not have complete information about what happened in her husband’s mind and what experience he had. So, she would be wiser if she asked, “So, what happened?”
Instead of snappy judgement, we could give credit to the other one that he acted based on his best abilities at that time. We empower the people we love when we show them that we trust them to manage their lives the best they can.
Admittedly, we would behave differently in the same situation, but everyone reacts in their unique way to the same event.
Therefore, by spelling out our judgements on the loved ones puts us on a higher moral ground and belittles their abilities to manage their life. This may result in relationship conflict where negative emotions, such as the sense of disapproval take time to sort out.
Relationships improve when we accept the differences in behaviour and actions between us and the loved ones. Asking questions with empathy and compassion sharpen our insight into the world of others and help us see that there is richness in looking at life through the lens of others.
Next time when we are tempted to be judgemental, let’s first try to understand the other one and then judge. If after understanding her husband the wife still wants to express her opinion, she could say, “I would have felt better if you called.”
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