Written by Sondi Bruner from her west coast kitchen.
Have you ever thrown dirty looks at a parent whose child is throwing a tantrum? Stared in horror as someone bites into a greasy cheeseburger? Nodded mutely at a friend's tale of career/relationship/family woes and thought she was making a crazy choice?
Yeah, me too. We've all been there. Frankly, anyone who says they haven't been judgmental is probably lying or in denial, since few of us are so self-evolved that we don't pass judgment on others.
In fact, it's often healthy foodies who are some of the worst offenders. A research study recently found that people exposed to pictures of organic food made harsher moral judgments than those who were shown photos of comfort or neutral foods.
The thing is, being judgmental is not a behaviour that serves us. Let's face it: we judge others because we need to feel better about ourselves. It may make us feel superior or secure in the short-term, but the long-term stress of never feeling good enough can lead to a host of health issues.
Being non-judgmental, though, as this study found, can lead to lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress-related illnesses.
So here are a few handy ways to tame the judgmental bee-yotch inside and bring on the zen-fulness.
Become aware of your behaviour. They say admitting you have a problem is the first step in recovery, right? Some of us might not even realize that we are being derogatory. Start noticing the thoughts you have about others that err on the side of criticism. Then consider why you might have had those thoughts in that moment – were you feeling self-conscious? Defensive? Angry? Tired? Hungry? The sooner we start to recognize our judgmental behaviours and discover the true reasons behind them, the sooner we can deal with them, work on letting them go, and move on with our lives.
Believe in yourself. You are insanely intelligent, compassionate, capable, well-liked, successful, talented, friendly, healthy, lovely, vivacious, trustworthy, funny, cool. You don't need to judge others, because you're awesome. So believe in that, and remind yourself of it every day. When you feel truly content and comfortable in your own skin, you'll likely discover that you find less fault in others.
Put yourself in someone else's shoes. Maybe that toddler is screaming because she didn't sleep well last night, not because she has awful parents who can't control their child. Try to consider situations from another point of view. Remember, you make the choices you do because of your unique upbringing and life circumstances. Not everyone has had the same experiences, challenges and blessings you have had. Be empathetic and understanding.
Stop gossiping. It's tempting to judge others when you're with a gaggle of friends and you want to bond over mocking some dude's shiny shirt or that woman's unsightly muffin top. Restrain yourself from gossiping about others. You don't have to make a big announcement about it and get all after-school special on your friends, just keep mum if the discussion becomes a bit judge-y. Extricate yourself from the situation if you can't hold back from joining the chorus.
Watch your language. If you have a genuine desire to help someone and decide to give advice, watch what you say. Don't tell people what they 'should' do, or deem a choice to be right or wrong, bad or good. That's applying your moral code to someone's actions – and it's up to others to decide what's right for them. Avoid using words that are overtly negative, condescending or critical. For example, instead of saying, “It's wrong for you to eat refined sugar,” try saying, “I like to avoid refined sugar because it can cause inflammation and nutrient loss.”
Question of the Day: What are your tips to avoid being judgmental? And how do you respond when someone else is judging you?