Photo by: DenisenFamily via Flickr
It’s natural to be confused by something you’ve never gone through. We are shaped by our experiences, so when the history of our experiences tells us things happen a certain way, it can be confusing when something challenges those patterns. This is where judgement stems from. Judging others is often unfair and stereotypical. In order to turn judgemental thoughts into something positive, it’s important to make a conscious effort to change the direction of those thoughts.
We all make snap judgements, but it’s what you do with those snap judgements that is important. We’ve all felt judgement, but it’s important to turn your preconceived negatives into positives by having more understanding. Turn your thoughts into action by practicing empathy in order to change your mindset and turn your judgements into something positive.
Judgement — We all do it
It’s natural that our mind puts things into categories on first glance. This behavior is raw, instant and intuitive. However, while judgements like these can ensure our safety, not all of them are useful. Many judgements come from an unfair place. For instance, we know the health benefit of breastfeeding and how great that practice is for a baby, but judging a mom who doesn’t breastfeed isn’t helpful. Though your snap judgement might be, “why doesn’t she breastfeed?” your second thought should be that it’s none of your business and she probably has a perfectly good reason for why she doesn’t.
This type of mom judgement is so rampant that Meghan Koziel, a breast cancer survivor, put up a sign in her delivery room explaining why she couldn’t breastfeed so that she didn’t receive any judgement for it. This is just one example, but the truth is that having judgement for others is something we all do. But that doesn’t mean it’s okay.
Taking inventory of our thoughts
Often, your initial judgement on another person has a lot to do with what you’ve been taught. How you grew up, what you’ve learned, and what our culture has fed us for so long creates a subconscious judgement for others in many situations. If you have an unfair judgement about another person, take inventory on where that thought came from. Do you really believe that? Is it an unfair thought? Some say that the first thing you think in a snap judgement situation is what society has taught you to believe, but the second thing you think is how you really feel.
When you make a correlation like a blond girl must be dumb, then you realize that’s a stereotype that is clearly untrue, you’re taking inventory of an unfair judgement, making note of it’s unfairness, and changing your opinion on it.
Turning positives into negatives
Some judgements are created through an inability to relate. Addiction is a topic filled with judgement by many different types of people. It’s a tricky topic because addicts need to be held accountable but also shouldn’t be demonized. Nurses handle substance abuse by walking this line of accountability while still treating their patients with respect because they are trained to do so, but that’s not taught to everyone. When you have a negative judgement on another, like those battling addiction, turn that negative into a positive by considering what you can do to help.
Action to create change is a much better outlet for negative thoughts than judgement. Support addiction treatment being covered by insurance or vote to fund more after-school programs for at-risk youth. Learn how to support someone’s addiction recovery if someone close to you has an addiction. These are just a few examples of turning a negative judgement into something actionable.
Judgement — We all feel it
Not only have we all been guilty of judging others, we’ve all also been guilty of feeling judged by others. Feeling judged is unfair and leads to feelings of anxiety, self-consciousness, and embarrassment. No one wants to be judged, so it’s important to remember what it feels like when we judge other people. Empathy and understanding is a vital piece in changing your mindset and how you view and categorise others. Instead of judging someone else for something, consider how you can change that judgement into understanding.
Instead of being the person who judges another, be the person who doesn’t. When someone you’re with comments on someone looking bad that day, instead of agreeing, speak up and offer that maybe they are sick, or having a bad day, and that you know what that’s like.
A changing mindset
Changing your mindset isn’t easy. It happens by being aware of the problem, taking an inventory of any judgemental thoughts, and making a conscious effort to change those thoughts. The key is compassion. It’s also worth understanding that many situations that create a judgemental response are situations with people who are different than we are. In reality, these differences are unique, fun and interesting — not a reason for unfair judgements. Changing your mindset on how you see differences, how you react to your own snap judgements, and how you can turn a negative thought into something helpful is how you truely watch your mindset change. It’s not easy, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s important.
Judgement is something we’ve all done and felt. Even in going through the process of changing mean and unhelpful thoughts, you’ll always still encounter some judgemental thoughts. Just remember: Having those thoughts isn’t the problem — it’s what you do with them. Instead of allowing them to shape your views, take inventory of why you think that way and change it. Do something positive, say something nice, or speak up for others. In reality, we’ve all been judged unfairly. In a world of judgement, understanding is the perfect antidote.