Letting Go of Judgment and Fear of Being Judged

Passing judgment on others is a negative defense mechanism that ultimately makes us feel worse. On the other end of the spectrum, feeling like we are being judged can cause all sorts of negative emotions and reactions to arise. We can use judgment in positive and productive ways, but we can’t let it reach a point where we are being impacted or impacting others negatively. No matter how we approach it, the consequences are always the same: unhealthy judgement hurts everyone.
Judging others and feeling judged by others are intertwined. When we judge someone else, we are more prone to assuming that others are judging us. Don Miguel Ruiz, in his book The Four Agreements, explains, “We have a tendency to make assumptions about everything. The problem with making assumptions is that we believe they are the truth. We could swear they are real. We make assumptions about what others are doing or thinking—we take it personally—then we blame them and react by sending emotional poison with our word. That is why whenever we make assumptions, we’re asking for problems. We make an assumption, we misunderstand, we take it personally, and we end up creating a while big drama for nothing.” Assuming we are being judged and reacting with further judgment simply creates a cycle of negativity that harms both parties.
Our own fear of being judged can be alleviated when we try not to judge others. Dr. Jill P. Weber, in a 2017 Psychology Today article entitled 4 Way to Stop Fearing Other People’s Judgment, explains, “There is no better way to care less about the judgments of others than to judge yourself and others less. Of course judgment is unavoidable, but watch the language you use in your own head about the people and events in your life. Change the focus of your judgments: Instead of ‘she sucks’ or ‘he’s a loser,’ ask yourself what effect the person has on you that you want to avoid or be aware of in the future. For example, ‘She never follows through with her commitments to me.’ Or, ‘He tells me he’s trying but I always end up disappointed.’ Move away from the good and bad character traits of those in your life to what is healthy and unhealthy for you.” In this way, we can shift our judgments from vitriolic to productive. We can use healthy judgment in place of angry, unproductive judgment to maintain our own sense of serenity and peace of mind.

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