Entries in judging others (3)



Assuming that evil does exist, I believe that when anyone judges someone else or sterotypes others or thinks/discusses prejudicial ideas or in any way acts to separate theirselves from others, they are acting in a way that is potentially evil or are beginning of a process that will clearly become evil. [I am not referring to the dictionary definition of evil as profoundly immoral and malevolent.]

The above definition of evil might seem kind of wierd or wrong, however my patients have taught me that what I mentioned above is correct. Every time one of my patients [or myself] non-specifically criticize or judge others it is wrong. It is wrong because it separates us from those people and as humans we are meant to be connected to each other. 

So, how can any of this be clarified much less validated. One way I validate this information is by having the opportunity daily to learn from my patients how they relate to others when they are being judgmental compared to when they are able to stop being judgmental [reduce it by a lot] and how that impacts the quality of their relationships. Over and over I have seen this change correlated with significant improvements in their relationships to others [including their families] and their own level of happiness. They are much less stressed and are able to not dwell on the past as much. 

So now I appear to be promoting giving up judging others as a way to reduce stress and increase satisfaction with our lives and our happiness. Well, I am. Now what do others say? I searched for information and found an article in Psychology Today from October 24, 2014 by Barbara Markway, Ph.D. entitled  "10 Reasons To Stop Judging People."  The 10 reasons are: 1. don't blame yourself as we are "hard wired to have fight/flight/or frozen" reactions and it is "natural" to judge others; 2. be mindful so you are self aware enough to catch yourself before you say something judgmental; 3. depersonalize the situation as you remind yourself that it is really not about you but likely reflects the conflict that the other person is having; 4. Look for basic goodness in others. We "naturally scan for the negative," but the positive is there; 5. Repeat "just like me." This reminds us that we are more like each other than different and actually from the same subspecies; 6. Reframe what you are hearing to consider that it really is not personal [about you]; 7. Be willing to look at your own behavior as this may be the source of  your upset with someone else; 8. Educate yourself about the other person and see if they may be disabled in some way; 9. Give the other person the benefit of the doubt. We generally all do the best we can; 10. Feel good about yourself and you will be less likely to judge others.  A final comment by Dr. Markway states that judging other defines us, not others. There are many other articles and research that appears to support that we are happier if we do not judge others.

I disagree with Dr. Markway about her stating that it is natural to judge others and that we naturally scan for the negative about others.  I believe that we have learned to cope with our own insecurities by judging others and being critical of them. So, judging and criticizing others is not natural. But why then do we do these things? Many of us have had experiences when other people acted in ways that we felt overwhelmed and threatened. Then, to keep from feeling even more overwhelmed, we learn to judge others and be critical of them so we won't be fooled into trusting them.  We also try to keep things from getting worse by taking on responsiblity for others. These coping strategies may keep things from getting worse but they also alienate us from others that can lead to depression and anxiety.  

So, what can be do to stop coping by judging others and criticising them? It helps to be aware that we are doing this and then choosing [outloud] to stop doing it. We then will be able to learn that it is safe to stop judging and criticizing others and that we will actually feel calmer and less stressed if we do.

What do you think?




Is it fair or reasonable to judge what we do or say by the standard of whether or not it was based on love for the other?  How would that work?  Would we be able to say anything? Maybe the problem is the definition of love.  Love is..."an intense feeling of affection, fondness, tenderness, attachment, endearment, worship, adoration, passion."  There must be other definitions of love...such as from "A Literate Passion: Letters from Anis Nin and Henry Miller, 1932-1953:  "what is love but the acceptance of the other, whatever he is." Or what we can learn from music such as "What I Did For Love" from the musical "A Chorus Line."  This song seems to honor love as the reason that we have meaning in our lives. Or what about the bible such as "1 Corinthians 13: 4-8. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; were there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away."  

So, a lot of good things connected to loving. St. Augustine is reported to have summarized his faith by saying that all you need is to "love and do what you will." The bible repeatedly refers to "what is in your heart" as what is important in our relationship to God. This might also be referring to love. But what does it mean to say and do things out of love? Does it refer to our intention in what we say or do? Does it refer to our feeling and being empathic towards others? If we are all connected and as some believe all God's children. Then should we act in a loving way towards everyone? Does that really mean everyone? Does that mean not judging others? Does it mean not isolating others? 

I know that I have experienced over and over again in my work with people who come to me for help, that we are meant to be with each other and that our happiness seems directly related to how we treat other people.  What do you think?



A recent opinion pieceby Benedict Carey in the April 14, 2014 New York Times national edition, talked about suicide prevention efforts now beginning to include input from the close to one million adults in the USA who have attempted suicide. [About 38,000 americans do kill themselves every year].  Mr. Carey reports that previously, talking about attempts was not considered helpful with fears that it would encourage people to attempt suicide and also worries that it would lead to increased stress for those who were sharing their experiencesbecause of the shame and stigma attached to such behaviors.  Only recently the American Association of Suicidology decided to recognize all those who attempt suicide and give them a voice in the suicide prevention efforts.  This is important considering that seven percent of people who attempt suicide actually kill themselves at a later date.  This is thirty times more than those who have never attempted suicide.   Hopefully, recognizing the importance of the experience and wisdom of people who have attempted suicide will help these people to feel better about themselves as they reach out to others at risk for suicide.

Mr. Carey then shared a number of personal stories of people who have attempted suicide.  The focus was on the pain that they experienced as they felt that they were shamed by professionals who did not allow them to share their experiences that led to their attempts.  They felt more support and acceptance from each other [others who had attempted].   More people who have made suicide attempts are talking about the attempts in more public forums.  It is hoped that sharing this information will encourage other survivors of suicide attempts to talk about their experiences and to be encouraged by those who are having success in their lives and are not held back by their having attempted suicide or by their moods.  

It is also hoped and a research project is testing out if people sharing their experiences with suicide attempts will lower the stigma that is often attached to people with psychiatric problems.  According to psychologist Patrick Corrigan at the Illinois Institute of Technology who is working with the San Francisco based Center for Dignity, Recovery and Stigma Elimination, having contact with someone such as by hearing them talk or reading what they have written can lower the stigma as education alone does not seem to lower it.

So, again it seems that we can help each other by being open to hearing other people's experiences and not judging or sterotyping others.  We all need each other and I believe that the people listening to others benefit as much as those sharing their experiences.  We are actually all in it [this wonderful life] together and judging or stereotyping others only separates us and increases our stress