Judgment. It happens all the time. You look at someone and form an opinion based on his or her appearance, speech, education or something else. If done with good intent and wisdom, it can be efficient. No matter the intent, it narrows your understanding of someone to a narrow definition, which can be dangerous and fails to respect the person’s dignity.
Most of the time judgment comes from a critical place, often from a need to measure up against someone else. Neither intent nor wisdom can make the outcome good when this happens. This blog addresses critical judgment.
What Does Judgment Sound Like
Judgment takes many forms. Some of the big ones include:
- Status symbols show up everywhere. Does someone have the right kind of house, car, jewelry, job, school credentials, etc.
- Appearance garners much attention. People judge whether or not someone’s attire, make-up and hair meet some (arbitrary) standard.
- Body shaming appears when criticism targets a person’s physical person. It might focus on “thunder” (i.e. too large) thighs, a less than svelte tummy, bald head or some other feature.
- Stereotypes rise from judgment based on skin color, gender, age, nationality, religion or other factor.
In all of these judgments, a person is being compared to some standard. Most of the time the standard originated with an unknown source. As always, following the money helps; you can usually find someone who benefits financially. Comparing someone to an arbitrary standard strips them of the ability to makes their own choices. It turns them into objects for your pleasure instead of humans.
Why Judgment Hurts
Judgment becomes most problematic when shared with others. In sharing opinions, we spread the criticism. The more outrageous the criticism, the faster and further it tends to spread. Sharing negative (or positive) opinions has the power to influence others perceptions and effect how they treat the person.
Some other examples of damage include:
- A person’s own opinions of his or her own self and self worth matter more than someone else’s arbitrary judgment. Preserving someone’s dignity should always be a top priority.
- Judgment typically comes from an unmet need of the judge. Transferring your own pain onto someone else fails to help you grow and find happiness. The phrase “misery loves company” misleads in these instances. The person receiving the pain suffers unnecessarily.
- Judgment of something outside one’s control destines a person to always feeling bad about him or her self unnecessarily. For example, criticizing someone’s bone structure, foot size or features (eyes, teeth etc.) is uncalled for. The person can’t do anything about them [Yes, plastic surgery can “fix” some issues.]
What Does This Have To Do With Respect?
You show respect for someone when you respect their person and their choices. Using judgment to attempt to make them conform to your ideals deprives them of their free will. It can also deprive you of opportunities to learn and grow by distancing your from others.
Challenge yourself to refrain from judging and learn to appreciate differences, the “me” and the “they”, instead of looking to have only a “me”.