Have you heard the saying, “People are quick to judge but slow to self-correct?” Me too, and apparently people judge others in 0.1 seconds… so we can make a rapid decision about someone yet take all day to decide if we want to work out or not. I’ll tell you a secret on how to stop judging people, and provide five steps to keep it consistent. This is all within your control, and if you didn’t work out today, this can be your 3-5 minute mental workout.
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Why Do People Judge Others?
It’s normal to judge. We formulate opinions about others to ensure our safety, social comfort level, and understanding of the world. According to Psychology Today, we make personality and situational attributions. This means we ask “why is that?” toward others’ characters and behaviors in situations. If it’s something we can’t comprehend or empathize with, we can judge harshly. If we understand the situation or personality trait, we move on.
“Our brains are wired to make automatic judgments about others’ behaviors so that we can move through the world without spending too much time or energy on understanding everything we see.”Psychology Today
Start Turning People Into Trees
Ram Dass, an author, psychologist, and someone who helped start the yoga craze on the West Coast helps me answer how to stop judging people.
I’ll let him explain:
“…when you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.”
By allowing something or someone to just be, you’re not absorbing anything negative from it. Below, I’ll explain how to then turn something neutral into a positive thought. If you want more on Ram Dass, here is a popular book of his (I haven’t read it yet, but the reviews speak for it).
So start turning people into trees – including me, it’ll help my tree pose in yoga 😉
I caught myself starting to form a negative opinion about a stranger taking a million and one selfies on the beach the other day. She asked her friend to take videos of her acting sexy in the sand in front of all the people around, which naturally captures their attention. What is she seeking? Why is she doing that? Where are those pictures going to end up?
I have no need for selfies because I don’t really have social media so I would never do what she was doing, but I had to remind myself that this girl isn’t me. She didn’t grow up like I did. I have to accept her how she is. So I turned it around and genuinely thought, get it girl, I hope you feel confident and love yourself.
Someone robs a bank? That’s the best they can do given what they’ve had in life. Someone takes your lunch at work? That’s the best they can do given what they’ve had in life. Someone burps next to you on the plane? That’s the best they can do given what they’ve had in life.
- If you explored life the same way everyone else did, there would be less diversity and more competition.
- “The monk approach is to look for meaning and absorb what you need to move forward instead of getting locked in judgment.” Jay Shetty
- Being judgment-free is about “getting rid of the old notions of yourself to get to something truer.” Roadtrip Nation
- Appreciate others for what they have to offer, not what you think they should offer.
How to Stop Judging People
1. Stop yourself with a deep breath.
This is your awareness skill. You can improve this here: mindfulness meditation.
If you were them (not you in their shoes but you as them in their shoes) understand why you would be doing the same thing.
3. Think good thoughts toward them.
And try your best to mean it! That’s the best they can do given what they’ve had in life. Good for them!
4. Try Dass’s tree analogy.
This is especially useful if step 3 is too difficult. If you’re judging a tree for being itself with what it’s been given, then think again. Keeping an open mind is key, even if you disagree.
5. Move on from the scene or walk away if possible.
Out of sight, out of mind is a powerful tool. Use it if necessary.
We judge for survival and comprehension, but sometimes nasty feelings can arise. How to stop judging people means taking the steps above to strengthen your mindset. Avoiding judgment also aligns with not taking things personally in The Four Agreements, which is vital to your well-being. Because every moment counts in life, don’t let 0.1 seconds be a negative one! One small step in thought can create the greatest impact on your mental freedom.