In today’s digital world, we’re constantly bombarded with judgements. Between individuals sharing an idealized and often perfect-looking version of their lives that provokes envy, to hurtful comments on our own social posts from strangers, judgements can make us reconsider our self-worth, our choices, and our values. Not only are judgements cast on us by others, but it’s possible that we cast judgements on ourselves and others too.
While disregarding judgements is easier said than done, it's common to internalize judgements. These judgements then have the power to hold us back from leading a meaningful and fulfilling life. Not only do we need to find ways to let go of the judgements others cast on us, but also the judgements we make about ourselves and others.
So how can we learn to let go of these judgements?
The first step we can take to learn to let go of judgements requires us to be aware of our judgements. We all have hundreds of thoughts that pass through our minds everyday, so being able to discern a judgement from a thought can help us recognize the judgement without legitimizing it. If we can let judgements pass without acting on them or believing them, the power judgements have over our mood and behaviour will lessen. Over time, we will be able to smile and say to ourselves ‘that’s a judgement, not a fact’ and move on with our days.
Notice and Reflect on the Judgment of Others
Another important step towards letting go of judgements is to notice and reflect on our judgements of others. When we start to realize our judgements of others, we can then reflect and examine what inner biases our judgements are based upon. We can begin to ask: what narrative are we allowing ourselves to believe? Is it true? Is it kind and fair? Is this judgement based on my opinion or the opinion of someone who I took after? After taking some time to reflect on the nature of judging others, we’ll be able to look at the situation with fresh eyes. When we let go of judging others, we have an easier time not judging ourselves.
Restate the Judgement in Terms of Consequences
Think back to a time where you judged someone and ask yourself what were the consequences. Judgements are usually made in response to a consequence to yourself or others. Stating what the consequences were for a judgement you’ve made will create a fuller meaning of why you’re compelled to make such a judgement. For example, when considering the following judgment, “She said something so mean,” dig deeper to explore what the consequences of that comment were. Perhaps the consequences were, “it shocked and hurt me.” When we restate judgements in terms of consequences, not only will it help us let go of them, but provide a better understanding of our emotions.
Reframe the Judgement in Terms of Goals or Gratitude for Others
Another way we can let go of judgemental thoughts is to reframe them into goals for yourself or gratitude for others. For example, instead of allowing a judgemental thought process to end at “She’s so put together while I’m such a mess,” we can take this thought a step further to avoid distress and unnecessary suffering. Perhaps we can reframe the judgemental thought as “She seems to really take the time to put herself together and present herself well. I admire that and would like to learn how to do that for myself.” By reframing our judgmental thoughts, it can lead us to discover potential ways we can grow or find a deeper appreciation and gratitude for others.
Look for What’s Left Out
It’s important to remember that everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and when we cast judgements, they are often done in a way by comparing our weaknesses in terms of someone else’s strengths. This leads to an inability for us to see the whole picture, and our judgements are often very skewed because of it. Instead of focusing on your weaknesses, try looking at the big picture. For example, you may have thought, “Why can’t I get things right on the first try? Other people just ‘get it’ and I don’t.” Before we can allow this thought to take us down a dark, emotional tunnel, take a step back. Notice the times in the past when you were able to pick something up quickly, or if your perceptions of others’ performances are just a little bit off.
Judgements are often a form of invalidating others or yourself. If you notice yourself engaging in judgemental thoughts towards yourself and others, try releasing those judgements by turning them into validation statements. Instead of saying “I’m so stupid, why am I not getting this?” reframe that thought into a validation statement such as “Change takes time, and I need to be patient with myself in order to stay committed to reach my goal of understanding and employing this new skill.” Not only does validation negate inaccurate judgements, but it realizes your emotions while accepting yourself in the process.
Taking a mindful and compassionate approach towards our internal experience allows the opportunity to develop a different relationship with our thoughts. When we learn to let go of judgements and practice gratitude to ourselves and the world around us, we all can lead a more fulfilling life.
Written by Eleni Zaptses
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