5 Sneaky Ways to Stop Judging Others

5 Sneaky Ways to Stop Judging Others

Sometimes when I’m running errands or walking around town, I’ll catch myself being really hard on the people around me:

  • She’s too fat.
  • His clothes are ugly.
  • That mom doesn’t know how to raise her kids.
  • Only a jerk would park his car like that.
  • Who does that bitch think she is?

Wow, I’m quite the charmer, right?

Of course, I never say those mean things out loud, but I feel ashamed when I think bad thoughts about other people.

It’s easy to judge people, but we need to remember that although passing judgment is a human trait, we don’t need to give in to it as much as we do.

And by taking a step back and observing our actions, we can become better versions of ourselves. Let’s try to be more monk-like and less asshole-like, m’kay?

Here are 5 sneaky ways to shift your perception and stop judging others.

Give Them the Benefit of the Doubt

Let’s say you’re driving down the highway and another driver speeds up and cuts you off. You might think that the other driver is completely inconsiderate, but try giving him the benefit of the doubt.

Honestly, you don’t know him, what his life is like, or the circumstances that led him to cut you off. Maybe he’s desperately trying to get his pregnant wife to the hospital. By admitting that you don’t know the other person or his situation might stop you from passing judgment. The next time someone cuts you off, say a little prayer and wish them well.

Use Mirroring

Often times, we’ll judge other people because we’re the ones feeling insecure. If you’re out in public and you see a morbidly obese woman, you might make a snap judgment that she’s lazy or a slob. When you start to feel that way, try the mirroring trick. Pretend that you’re not looking at another person, but instead you’re looking into a mirror.

How does that change how you feel? Would you hope that people would show you compassion despite your size? If you’re ashamed of the weight you’ve gained, you might be prone to judging other overweight people because you don’t want to look like them. Think about it—is your criticism about them or you?

Pretend They’re Your Best Friend

We’re can be very judgmental inside our own minds. I bet the voices in your head say some nasty comments about the people around you (or even yourself!). But would you ever say those mean things to your best friend? No way!

You love and care about your best friend, so you would show her compassion and empathy instead of insulting her. When you feel like judging others, pretend that the other person is your best friend. This simple idea will instantly shift your perception.

Find a Million Things to Love

What if the person you’re judging is making it really, really, really difficult for you to not judge her? Perhaps she’s an annoying coworker or a person on the other end of the political spectrum. If you’re being immersed in negativity, flip the switch in your mind over to extreme positivity.

Find something to love about that person, no matter how small or insignificant. Maybe that annoying coworker has a great wardrobe, or is good to her kids, or never leaves a mess in the break room. Try as hard as you can to come up with things to love about her, and soon your negative thoughts will disappear.

Get to Know Them

Have you ever taken a self-defense class? Besides teaching you how to protect yourself from an attacker, the self-defense instructor will teach you about what to do if you’re kidnapped or held hostage. One way to stay alive in a dangerous situation is to tell your captor your name and other details about your life. By doing so, you’ll force your attacker to acknowledge that you’re a real person with feelings, a family, a life…and you’ll be more likely to survive your ordeal.

Now, judging strangers is no hostage situation, but if you make the effort to get to know the person you’re criticizing, you’ll see that you probably have something in common. And it might just be that you’re both human beings who don’t deserve to be judged or bullied.

I admit that it’s impossible to completely stop judging other people, but these tips have helped me become more mindful and aware of my thoughts.

How do you stop criticizing and shift your focus?

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  1. Molly on June 25, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Thanks so much for this post, Sage. I can be pretty guilty of this myself, especially lately when it just feels like people are being jerkier than normal. But, I realize that it’s probably me that needs to change my perspective. I especially like the tip on finding something to love about that other person. It’s so easy to slip into seeing the bad in others, but we need to remind ourselves to focus on the good. 🙂

    • Sage on June 26, 2012 at 7:34 am

      I’ve felt to the level of jerkiness rising in this country too. You’re right that we need to be the ones to change because we can’t change other people’s behavior. Frustrating, but true.

  2. Tinfoilstiaras on June 25, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    You’re so right- it’s so hard to get out of the habit of judging others and you’re a better person than I am- I’ve said those things out loud (not to their face but to people I’m with, not nice at all!) I like the concept of coming up with something to praise them for, instead of harping on the negative. Yay for compliments!

  3. GlutenFreeHappyTummy on June 25, 2012 at 6:50 am

    great post! those are some helpful tips. i think we’re all guilty of this – something i’m going to be more conscious of! thanks!

    • Sage on June 25, 2012 at 7:56 am

      We all judge others, but when we become aware of our thoughts then we can actively change them and not dwell in the negativity. I work on it every day!

      Thanks for commenting, Caralyn. 🙂

  4. Cara on June 25, 2012 at 6:45 am

    These are really helpful tips for something we all do. I admit I’m a terrible judge in public. I really like the ones about mirroring and thinking of the person as your best friend. Glamour did an article on women judging women based on weight recently and it was really interesting/enlightening. I linked it below:


    Such a great post today Sage!

    • Sage on June 25, 2012 at 7:54 am

      I read that same article! Really fascinating…and sad. Us women need to work on being kinder to each other. Thanks for sharing the link, Cara.

  5. xvavaveganx on June 25, 2012 at 6:28 am

    Great post Sage! I think that you make really great points here. I have been told when I get angry if people are acting like jerks that I should consider that they may be having a bad day or at least be mindful that they may have something going on and there is probably a reason they are acting like that. I try to be mindful of that now. As you know I work in a pretty shallow industry and I hear judgement about looks all the time. I don’t really get involved in that and am actually really sensitive of it and it makes me cringe when I hear it. It drives me nuts when people judge based on looks.

    I will definitely be mindful of these tips as well 🙂 Great post that everyone should read!

    • Sage on June 25, 2012 at 7:52 am

      I get angry at people too when I think they’re being rude or inconsiderate. I try to remember that people who hurt others are hurting inside themselves.

      We’re not supposed to judge people on their looks, but everyone does it. I feel like there’s so much pressure to look a certain way that we can be critical of people who don’t fit that mold. That must be frustrating to be around that energy every day. 🙁

      Mindfulness is something I’m working on in a few areas of my life: mindfulness meditation, mindful eating, mindfulness of others, etc.

      Thanks for the comment, Sarah!

  6. Trisha Harner on June 25, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Very good points! I have teenagers and they are so good at judging. Teaching them these 5 steps is difficult, but so worth it. And a practice I myself continue each and every day…
    Thanks for the great post!
    Trisha Harner

    • Sage on June 25, 2012 at 7:45 am

      Thanks for commenting, Trisha! I was particularly judgmental when I was a teenager. I got less critical as I got older, but it’s still something I work at.