Maybe you’ve read articles on TinyBuddha and the spiritual path has convinced you to stop judging others. Maybe you want to lessen anxiety, or you’re coming at this from a body image perspective, and want to love yourself more. Maybe you just want to be a more compassionate person.
No matter what your reason for trying to stop being so judge-y, the obvious next question is… how?
Your Path to a Judgement-Free Life
What I’m about to tell you is incredibly simple, but I assure you it’s not easy. If you’ve been practicing judging other people your whole life, then it’s going to take an absolute ton of practice, patience, and dedication to create a brand new habit.
But that’s exactly what you need to do. Instead of just trying to quit cold turkey, you need to replace your old habit with a new one:
The habit of checking in with what’s going on inside you that caused you to judge someone.
Simple, right? Sure. But let’s take a look at how that actually works in practice:
Step 1: Become aware of when you’re judging someone.
You’re not going to be able to succeed at step 2 or 3 until you manage to identify and catch yourself every time you judge someone. Sometimes keeping a judgement journal can be extremely useful for this step, where you write down every single negative judgement you make about anyone throughout the day.
Step 2: Interrupt the pattern.
Our brains are good at doing what they’ve practiced doing. If you’ve been judging people a lot, you’re going to have to interrupt that mental pattern in order to stand any chance of changing it. This interruption is called cognitive dissonance, and can take place the moment you notice yourself judging someone, as long as you do something– anything— different.
Some people have luck saying the word STOP outloud, or picturing a big red stop sign, as soon as they catch themselves having a judge-y thought. Other people prefer to do something completely random and weird in order to interrupt the mental pattern, like reciting the alphabet backwards, or doing a weird dance, or picturing a purple elephant.
Whatever works for you is fine. The goal is to simply interrupt the old mental pattern. By interrupting it, you create the space for something new to happen, and new (non-judge-y) thoughts to show up.
Step 3: Bring it back to yourself.
Take total responsibility, and bring the judgement back to yourself. Ask questions that take responsibility for your judgement, like “what about me right now is making me feel this way?” or “what’s going on with me that I’m judging this person for this thing?”
The truth is, when you judge someone it’s always about you; it’s never about them.
Explore your role in the judgement with curiosity instead of judgement. We often judge the stuff we wish we could do but don’t, for whatever reason, and there’s a lot to learn from the stuff that triggers judge-y thoughts.
If you have kids for example, and you spend a lot of energy making sure they don’t bother other people in public, then seeing a mom who lets her kids run around and cause mayhem might be a huge judgement trigger for you. Or if you decided a long time ago that you “can’t” wear mini skirts with your big legs, then seeing another big-legged woman wearing a miniskirt might make you feel real judge-y.
By gently questioning what’s going on for you that’s causing your judginess, you have the opportunity to learn a ton about yourself– possibly even including some ways in which you’d like to act differently!
Try these three steps and see how it goes. You might not like how it feels to be under scrutiny at first, but I promise that by habitually taking responsibility for your role in your judgement, you will both improve your own life through better self-awareness, and you’ll find yourself judging other people less.
Which in turn means you’ll feel safer, more comfortable, and more relaxed to be yourself: win/win!
Are you ready to practice how to stop judging others?
Written by: Jessi Kneeland
Originally appeared on: Jessikneeland.com
Republished with permission.