How Do You Judge Thee?

Inspirational-QuoteAccording to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, judgement is defined as:  a proposition stating something believed or asserted; a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion; or the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing.  Capitalize the word and it takes on the power of Divine authority.

Yes.  We judge others, just as we ‘exercise’ judgement when making choices for our own lives.

Spoken or unspoken, we discern, assess, and form opinions of others and situations, anchored to our own belief systems and experiences, often without regard for the belief systems and experiences of those we project our judgements onto.

Sometimes these ‘opinions’ are positive or perhaps even void of judgement altogether, though often enough they are not.  Consider for a moment: how many times do you associate the word ‘judgement’ with a positive sentiment?  When we ‘compliment’ another, it’s positive; when we ‘judge’, it conjures up a different feeling altogether – both for the judge and those being judged.

Judgement – whether of ourselves or others – is usually birthed from a place of fear, not love; from a place of reaction, not responsiveness; or perhaps even from a place of deep lacking within ourselves.

Whether cloaked in the disguise of well-meaning albeit unsolicited advice, idle gossip, venting, or outright confrontation, it is often easier to judge, criticize, and blame others because they do not share our ideals, values and/or interests than it is to look at our own selves and shortcomings.  Instead of respectful disagreement or simple acceptance, we judge as if we own the Truth, and yet how could we possibly assume to know what it is to walk in the shoes of others?  How could we possibly know what stories they have lived or tell themselves that shape the choices they make every day?

When we judge our own selves without mercy, holding ourselves up to impossible ideals of perfection, we not only hurt and devalue ourselves, but often project our pain on to others, too.

Perhaps there is a better way.

Perhaps there is a way to build bridges instead of walls, for judgement always isolates us from others.  Add a pinch of understanding, a heady dose of compassion and a dollop of love, and you’ve created a recipe for peace and acceptance, paving the way to authentic forgiveness, too.  Ensure there are solid boundaries in place for good measure, and our respect for our selves and others grows immeasurably.

I’m curious…

Do you struggle with judgement, and if so, what form does it take?  When you feel unfairly judged by others, how do you respond?  What role do boundaries play when we feel judged or criticized by others?  How do you differentiate between constructive criticism or coaching and judgement?  What role does compassion, understanding, love and forgiveness play in finding peace with those we both judge and are judged by?

(Photo courtesy of

7 thoughts on “How Do You Judge Thee?

  1. Judgement, being judgmental, is birthed. Rather than looking at from where or why I understand that it develops over time. It grows and manifests unless you can recognize the road it is taking you down and those you come in contact with, including yourself. It inhibits one’s ability to learn, to grow, to live to life to its fullest. Easier said than seen. So I ask, how does one begin to break the habit-forming judger persona? I’ve seen and taken from what you speak and so wonderfully put into words that we are often not strong enough to learn from ourselves, as evidenced by what I have taken from you. Would it be right, correct to judge myself in saying that it will take someone else to help lead me across the bridge, that I cannot do it alone?

    I do not feel I am inappropriately judging myself when I say it would be impossible to be able to break the mold (perhaps moldy would be better to phrase it) alone. Your writings, while inspirational, helpful and from the heart, have also taught me what I do believe in that it sometimes takes two. And I also feel it is the “right” one that gets to two. Or am I being judgmental in my belief? What can we do it the walls are high and too thick to climb over or penetrate without help, to have the guiding eyes and experienced heart of someone like you? What can we do to get to the point where winning even comes from losing?


  2. Judgement is, from my perspective, a learned response, reenforced by our society every day. In a world where people would rather resort to polarized black & white thinking than process the complexities of a given person or situation, it’s no wonder why judging vs. understanding has indeed become so habit-forming. For some it becomes a gut response – a defense mechanism of sorts; and for many, it’s a way to validate themselves at another’s expense. To your point, it also inhibits our ability to learn, grow, and live life to its fullest.

    I believe that many also confuse acceptance with endorsement of a given behavior or choice. I can respectfully disagree with you and still accept what may be true for you, without feeling as if I’ve compromised my own values in doing so.

    In my own experience, I find myself resorting to a place of judgement when I feel hurt, scared or threatened in some way. At other times, I am simply seeking understanding, though my insatiable curiosity about people may still be received by others as a perceived judgement.

    I do agree with you that often we need others to mirror our own behavior back to us, though constructively receiving this feedback requires a serious dose of humility and an open and willing heart. It also requires a willingness to take personal responsibility for our own choices and behaviors instead of projecting our short-comings or failures onto others, or giving away our personal power in the learning itself. In these important ways, winning can in fact come from losing!


    1. I’m not sure judging is a gut response more than it is all we know, a learned response as you too wrote. I do believe, at times, it to be a defense mechanism, but think much less about validation at someone’s expense. I see it frankly validation at their own expense. One gets into a self-defensive mode to erect a barrier to keep them separated by that impenetrable force, rationalizing (read: judging) that everyone else sees things black and white, or merely through a lens that reads no one could not possibly understand the complexities of who they really are.

      It’s interesting the times you resort to judgement are when scared or threatened. I don’t think I ever looked at it that way, but now can more vividly see that. I suppose there is a fear raised when we think the person we now must judge is able to look into the one-way mirror, beyond the force-field. It is frightening and yet for a moment, comfortably exciting as well. Yearning for curiosity of course can be perceived as being judgmental, but I would argue that even the most innocent question from one even less inquisitive than you, might result in a similar outcome.

      But my curiosity is now peaked from your never being sated. Do you really think they are judging you for being so inquisitive? Perhaps that is your “heading-to-a-scared-place” to keep others from learning about you, a fear that someone, somehow might penetrate your force-field. But are the questions you pose to find out about them, or are they for them to find out less about you? Maybe there is a fear is to be open, understood and accepted or simply that you will be judged for who you really are?

      What has become so apparent is having mistaken a willing heart with a wanting heart. It’s finally admitting that the sound of every heartbeat has screamed in a deafening silence and is now willing to let others listen in; to allow them to tell you what they hear, even if you think you’re being judged. I don’t think most people ever hide completely from knowing that it does require a willingness to take personal responsibility for everything we do and conceding the “power” once thought we possessed. You’re certainly shared that with all of us here. Thank you so much for that!.


  3. I struggle a lot more with self-judgment than I do with judgment of others. Somehow, I can always empathize with the reasons others have for their actions, but (perhaps because of my own inner critic), I can also empathize with the reasons they may have for being hurtful towards me. One of the best ways I’ve found to objectively assess judgments from others is to step outside of myself, and ask what I would think of those words said to someone I love. As far as boundaries, I think it’s important to express the ways we don’t want to be treated — but to accept that you can’t change anyone’s mind about you. The most important point I’ve found is to interact with more judgmental people when you’re feeling centered, and then react slowly, without owning (or defending against) their judgments.

    Constructive criticism is generally delivered with compassion and love. The message isn’t, “Change so I can love you!” or “Change because I say you need to!” but rather one of, “I love you anyways. I think these changes may help you.” It’s from this giving place that we can offer our perspective without the threat of condemnation, rejection, or condescension.


  4. Great thoughts here…and yes, I agree that the more centered we are with ourselves, the easier it is to withstand others’ judgmental behavior w/out allowing it to pull us off-center.

    From your recent blog post, it sounds as if you have a great role model in your mother for modeling compassionate acceptance of others. That’s wonderful!


  5. I think compassion is a real key. Everyone has struggles and heartache. Imagine how we’d prefer to be treated if we found ourselves in a similar predicament. Would that change our thought process? Also, we can consider the parable of the unmerciful servant who was unwilling to forgive a small amount in comparison to the gigantic debt he owed. I desire mercy, and believe most others do to. Enjoyed the post, and definitely think it’s something we should all spend more time considering.


    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts here. Indeed, responding from a place of love and compassion vs. reacting from a place of fear and/or insecurity is key, regardless of which end of the judgement stick we find ourselves on.


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