A Time and Place for Judgment

Being overly judgmental, or inappropriately judgmental, makes life harder on yourself and on others.

Everyone has, built up over the years, an ability to make many different kinds of judgments: is this person tall? Do I like this person? Is this person good or bad? (More on What is Judgment?) Our ability to make judgments about someone or something is endless.

However, not all judgments are relevant or useful.  For instance, if we are trying to walk across a crowded room, the question we need to answer is: is this person in my way, and if so, how do I get around him or her?  It does not help us to ask: is this person a wizard, do I like this person, etc; within the context of the situation, the objective is to walk across the room, and the purpose of our judgments is therefore to find us a way across.  In this way, being self-aware keeps us focused so we don’t get flooded with too many judgments and information, causing us to lose track of our goal and get and feel lost.

This is a key point: judgments are used to achieve objectives. That is the time and place for them.  The same judgement, this person is tall, can be used in many contexts: when you’re choosing a basketball team, you may bias taller players, but if you’re choosing a limbo team, perhaps not.  However, not all objectives are made equal.

Let’s say you’re at a party with friends.  Your judgments will probably be focused on what is fun.  If you’re at a social event, your judgements will probably be focused on what you find interesting.  If you’re at a business event, you’re probably focused on networking.  These are harmless, non-personal judgements.

If you have a superiority complex, or are insecure, your judgements will be about whether or not such and such is better or worse than you or others for this or that reason. If you have an ego, believe you can do God’s work, or don’t have respect for other people’s opinions and lives, then perhaps you’ll be deciding whether someone is good or bad or worth anything or not.  These personal judgements are what make the world a worse place, because the objectives they support are either hurtful to others, or hurtful to yourself by promoting delusion and blindness.  Social anxiety comes from this, and the way to beat it is to not feed it.

If you learn to be aware of your judgments, and understand good objectives from bad, you can focus better, achieve more, and be a better person.

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  • Joe

    I found your post via reddit.
    Thanks for the informative article.

  • dais

    i think people who are judgmental are just trying to put down other people to validate their own life decisions. you’re absolutely right, it’s pointless, it’s toxic, and it’s petty. people will do it, but it’s important not to lose yourself. good post!

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  • Dinx

    Thanks for this! I’m generally a very insecure person – I don’t know know where it comes from. But I can see how it keeps me back from awesome possible friendships.