“If someone isn’t what others want them to be, the others become angry. Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
The young woman was walking on the beach, when she saw an old lady sleeping in a winter coat right on the sand. She was lying just a few feet away from the beach entrance and people were constantly walking passed her.
It was Sunday, the day when people were supposed to go to the church, share a meal with their family, meet with their friends. But this woman was all alone. Judging by her wrinkled face, she had lived a long life, probably working, falling in love, raising children, only to find herself sleeping on the ground and being looked down on years later.
The young woman had $10 in her pocket and she felt that this old lady needed it much more than she did.
The problem was giving her the money. Leaving it beside her was too risky as someone else could pick up the $10 bill. While waking her up was not at option either. So the young woman decided to sit down and read the book she brought with her, while she waited for the old lady to wake up.
About half an hour later the woman slowly got up and started walking towards a nice condo building. She stopped in front of it and took the key out of her pocket. She was not a poor, lonely, homeless old lady as the woman imagined her to be! She was her neighbor!
For the past 20 years the old lady had taken a nap on the beach, but with age it had become more challenging to make the long trips onto the sand or carry a blanket with her. So now she would just put on her oldest winter coat and go downstairs to take her nap…
Sounds a little eccentric? Maybe, but it does not change the fact that the young woman felt like an idiot afterwards.
And I know this for sure, because I was that woman.
I’ve told you this story to remind you – stop judging people by their cover and don’t assume that you know what is best for them. My assumptions and my sincere effort to help, would have only offend this woman.
And even though she has never found out about it, I still owe her an apology. I judged her without knowing anything about her life. I assumed that I could help her instead of actually asking if she needed my help in the first place.
In many ways, it’s much harder to stop judging others, than to take a hard look at our own life and shortcomings. Judging people does not require compassion or intense self-reflection. Our brain does it almost automatically, saying “I’m better than you” when we judge others or “You are better than me” when we judge ourselves.
Making assumptions or judging is one of those destructive habits that hurt us more than we often realize.
Here are The 5 Biggest Negative Effects of Judging:
1. It hurts other people.
The fact that other people might not hear you saying or thinking something about them, does not make it any better. Because our thoughts and words don’t just disappear. They are real energy and when we judge someone, it is always negative energy. So it still does more harm than anything else.
2. It hurts your own happiness.
Usually when we judge other we end up feeling guilty afterwards. But this is not all. Psychological research actually demonstrated that how positively we see other people, shows how satisfied we are with our own life and how much we are liked by others.
The researchers found that positively judging others effects how enthusiastic, happy, kind-hearted, courteous, emotionally stable we are and vice versa. If you only make an effort to stop judging others negatively, your own well-being and happiness will improve greatly.
3. It makes you more close-minded.
The more stereotypes that get formed in our mind, the narrower our view of the world becomes. It’s like building high walls around ourselves and then getting trapped in a deep well. Our perception of reality becomes a tiny opening above our head and we are no longer able to see, experience or appreciate the richness and diversity of the world. Breaking free from the habit of judging is actually one of the biggest steps that you can take towards embracing a more fulfilling, abundant and satisfying life.
4. It puts negativity into the world.
No matter how you rationalize your judgments, they do not add any positive thoughts or emotions into the world. First they bring other people down. Then they bring you down.
When a journalist once asked Mother Teresa “What can we do to promote world peace?” she answered “Go home and love your family.” If we stopped judging our own children or spouse, we would have much more loving relationships. If we stopped judging our co-workers, we would have a much more enjoyable atmosphere at work. If we stopped judging people we meet for the first time, the whole world would become a much better place. Don’t you think?
5. It affects your self-esteem.
If you have the habit of judging others, you probably judge yourself harshly as well. It’s a vicious cycle. The more you judge how other people dress, the more you worry and become self-conscious about your own looks. The more you judge others for their lack of common sense, the more you feel the need to prove your own intelligence. Judging others plants a seed of fear of being judged. Think about it, confident people just don’t feel the need to put others down in order to make themselves feel better. Self-conscious people do that.
What I want to offer you is a little experiment – try to stop judging people you know for the rest of the day. And for every time you slip and think something negative about another person, just make an effort to find 5 positive traits about them. Why 5 traits? Because studies show that it takes at least 5 positive comments to neutralize one negative remark.