How To Stop Being Judgemental

How To Stop Being Judgemental

Do you often find yourself passing judgment on others? It’s not uncommon, and in some instances, exercising judgment can serve a positive purpose. For example, by tapping into our internal judgment, we can make well-considered decisions and steer clear of potentially harmful situations.

Critiquing can also spark creativity, enhance insight, and foster innovation, especially when it comes to solving our own issues or assisting others with their challenges.

Nonetheless, there are moments when being overly critical crosses the line into being offensive, harmful, or unnecessary.

Such instances are particularly evident when we obsess over others’ flaws or when our thoughts, words, or actions disparage, belittle, or mock someone else, their ideas, or belief systems.

If you recognize that you’re more judgmental than you’d prefer, our expert advice can guide you towards curbing these thought patterns and moving towards a more joyful, optimistic, and open-minded outlook. Continue reading to learn how!

Why Are We Judgmental?

Often, people become judgmental as a defense mechanism. The defense mechanism is an unconscious mental process that is initiated to protect the ego, mostly from anxiety or conflict.

The ego’s purpose is to keep us feeling isolated from others as a survival tactic, and this survival tactic comes out in a plethora of different defense mechanisms. Defense mechanisms related to judgment looks like this:

  • Finding faults in others to avoid the faults in ourselves
  • Protecting ourselves (or at least believing that we are protecting ourselves) from being hurt by other people
  • Attempting to give ourselves self-worth by feeling superior to others.

We are often unaware that we partake in these behaviors, but it is vital to recognize when it is happening so we can learn how to be better people to ourselves and to others.

Here are our tips for becoming a kinder, less judgmental person!

Practice Empathy 

We often cannot relate to the person we are judging, and can’t begin to understand what is causing that behavior.

Therefore, we find it difficult to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and have empathy for them.

However, this does not mean we are free to judge them for it. Instead, you should think back to a time when someone found something you did annoying or strange, and remember how you felt in the moment.

Perhaps you were having a bad week or were in the middle of a heated argument with a loved one.

You will realize that you don’t know what led the person you are judging to be the way they are, just like nobody had the context for your similar situation.

This realization allows you to give the person you’re judging the benefit of the doubt, which will further allow you to practice empathy towards them.

To foster a deeper understanding of empathy, consider exploring the article What Crystals Can Help with Anxiety?, which discusses methods to cultivate calmness and empathy towards oneself and others.


how to stop being judgemental

Look At The Positive Side 

When we find ourselves making a negative judgment about someone else, it is helpful to turn those thoughts on their head and make a positive judgment instead.

For example, if you’re walking down the street or are dancing the night away in a club and see a young adult with an outfit you think you think is way too bold and over-the-top.

Instead of turning up your nose and laughing with a friend, you should try and admire their confidence in wearing something different to the norm, or admire how confident they are in themselves to express their sense of style (and how well they’re pulling it off!)

Again, if you hear someone talking or laughing loudly at a bar or a restaurant, instead of rolling your eyes and giving some serious death stare, you should tell yourself that it is sweet that they are able to relax and have fun with their friends or family.

Focusing on the positives instead of the negatives of a situation allows you to bring yourself back into the moment and appreciate what is going on around you.

Rewrite Your Thoughts 

If you cannot think of a positive judgment, then it’s time to rewrite your thoughts! Practice that empathy to become more curious and less critical.

For example, if you have a colleague or employee who isn’t completing their work to their usual standard, instead of snapping at them or criticizing them for their carelessness, ask yourself why there would be a drop in productivity.

Maybe there’s a problem at home or a personal issue getting in the way.

When you practice a more compassionate standpoint, you will be one step closer to understanding the other person.

Reduce Your Gossiping 

Don’t try to deny it, we’re all guilty of gossiping. The sooner we can admit that we all love to gossip from time to time, the sooner we can move away from being judgmental.

Of course, it is difficult to avoid gossiping completely, so we’re not recommending you stop altogether, but we do recommend taking note of when the conversation wades into judgmental territory and then making an effort to steer it back to something more grounded.

You can do this by bringing up another perspective, or mentioning the good qualities of the person you’re discussing. Understanding the underlying causes of gossip can help in curbing this habit. The article Why Do I Feel Like a Burden? might provide useful insights into self-perception and how it relates to our interactions with others.

Expand Your Circle 

This tip cannot happen overnight, but it is a long-term goal you should work towards. It is always great to meet new people and build on those friendships.

You will often meet others who come from a different background to you and have a different upbringing and perspective.

This will challenge your own perspective and opinions and help you stay open-minded because you will have a better awareness of the challenges that others face.

If you’re looking to meet new people you can try picking up a new hobby, frequenting a new town, city, or neighborhood, making an effort with a friend of a friend, joining a new course, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Take Note Of When You Are Being Judgmental 

How To Stop Being Judgemental

The next time you catch yourself being judgmental, write a note of your thoughts, where you were, who you were with.

Do this continuously and you may start to notice a pattern, such as becoming more judgmental when you’re spending time with a certain friend group, or when you’re feeling insecure, or angry.

If you want to become less judgmental, then you must recognize these triggers and begin to move away from them.

Consider How You’d Like To Be Seen 

It seems counterintuitive to focus on how you look to others when you’re trying to reduce judgment.

However, paying attention to how other people perceive you can be a great motivator in stopping the judgmental defense mechanisms from coming!

Of course, we’re not saying you should be paranoid and insecure about what other people think about you, but you should be conscious that if you judge others, people will remember you for being judgmental, and maybe less likely to want your friendship and less likely to open up to you.

Worse, they may try to be close to you only to avoid being judged themselves!

If you try to be a more compassionate person, then you’re going to be more likable and you will make more real friendships.

Remember You Are Not Above Being Judged 

While plenty of people have habits, styles, opinions, etc, that you think are strange, don’t forget others can think the same of you, too!

People will always make unfair assumptions and judgments about you, but that doesn’t mean you should stop doing, wearing, or expressing what you find enjoyable.

If you’re self-assured and can understand this (which is amazing!), then there’s nothing stopping you from extending the consideration you have for yourself, to others.

Show Yourself Kindness 

Sometimes, the hardest person to be kind to is yourself. If you’re harsh towards yourself, then you’re going to find it easier to be harsh towards other people, too.

Judging others can be a sign of our own insecurities and pain, so when we are more compassionate and kind towards ourselves, that should help when extending that compassion and kindness to others.

Additionally, you may find that being positive towards others makes you feel much better than when you’re being negative towards them!

Final Thoughts 

We’re all guilty of being judgmental sometimes, and it is good to recognize that and try to change it.

It is helpful to practice showing kindness to yourself and to others by practicing empathy, reframing your thoughts to be more curious and positive, and keeping track of when you’re being judgmental to see if there are any changes that need to be made – be it to your social circle or your gossip habits.

However, it is also important to remember that in your journey to being less judgmental, you’re not always going to succeed.

It is important to remember that you are not a bad person, forgive yourself, and then keep trying.

About our Author Michelle Landeros, LMFT license# 115130
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT

Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.

Last updated: July 16, 2024