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Who’s Judging Who?

Isn’t it funny how flawed we all are, yet most of us judge others, moment by moment, from the critical part of ourselves that seems to thrive on deciding others are not behaving properly, or at least according to our expectations and standards? There are few things we are critical about others that we haven’t done, in some variation or degree, at one time or another, ourselves.

We often scrutinize ourselves for our performance and success, but not always for our treatment of others, especially in the workplace. We can feel entitled to critically assess other people, but may spend too little time reflecting on ourselves. And when our negative words, behaviour or actions are brought to our attention, we typically defend ourselves, or justify why we were right, or offer an inauthentic apology in order to deflect. 

In general, we often lack the courage to self-reflect, and examine how we got angry too soon, dismissed someone too quickly, acted out passive aggressively, and yes, even cheated, lied or betrayed. The last three often occur in subtleties, and we then let ourselves off the hook by telling ourselves “it wasn’t that bad” and “there were good reasons for it.”

We are all guilty of being judgmental, in personal relationships and at work. I encourage you to challenge this tendency in yourself when it arises, whether through gossip with others, where all parties involved in the conversation collude to raise themselves above the subject of their criticism, or when it shows up privately in your own mind.

Instead, what if in those moments we quickly switched our focus to one of our own unflattering episodes? What if we imagined the line of criticism we’re taking with someone else, being directed at ourselves? I believe our humility might expand and our judgmental self might simmer. 

Judgement is a way of avoiding self-reflection.

We project our own transgressions onto other people
and beat them up, rather than taking what
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) calls a “moral inventory”
of ourselves. 

It takes courage to honestly survey ourselves: how we work, how we live, how we treat others and how we treat ourselves. In the essence of our beings, no one feels good about themselves when they put someone else down. Any momentary sense of power and superiority we may feel will ultimately deteriorate our sense of self.

That said, if we are being bullied or mistreated, we need some of that support and must dig deep inside ourselves to find the courage and determination to compassionately and assertively hold others accountable when they harm us.

Gossip, fueled by judgement, erodes one’s spirit. Protect yours, rise above it. Remember you don’t know another person’s story, or how they arrived at the point where they are not presenting their best selves. I promise you it is not wonderful experiences that brought them here, and it is not beautiful moments that lead any of us to be in a place where we indulge in judgement. 

What would happen if we all listened and witnessed each other’s actions with a goal to understand, feel compassion and err on giving the benefit of the doubt? How beautiful the world becomes when we let go of judgement. 

I love the end of yoga classes when everyone says, “Namaste.”  This means “the spirit in me honours the spirit in you,” because at our core, we are truly all the same.

By Dr. Stephanie Bot, C. Psych., Psychoanalyst, President and Co-Founder

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Tom Beegan
Donna Marshall

Donna Marshall
M.A., Counselling Psychology, RP
CEO and Co-Founder

Dr. Stephanie Bot

Dr. Stephanie Bot,
C. Psych., Psychoanalyst
President and Co-Founder

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