YOU ARE KIND AND GENEROUS most of the time.
But occasionally you judge, label and disapprove of people
sometimes silently in your mind, sometimes aloud, sometimes for
significant reasons, sometimes for petty reasons. Judging people
causes an underlying resentment that puts you in a bad mood and
makes you tired. And it strains your relationships with people.
The stresses from different sources in your life accumulate,
and this is a source you can do without.
And no matter how you do it or what the
circumstances, when you pass judgement on someone, you are very
likely making an error usually committing at least one
of these three forms of what cognitive scientists call distorted
1. Jumping to conclusions. We rarely
know the motives or full story behind the actions a person takes,
and yet we come to conclusions quickly and easily that hes
a jerk or shes a fool or how rude
or what a freak. We condemn people far too easily.
2. Overgeneralization. A judgment
normally involves summing up a complex human being in simple
terms based on a few or even one instance. Thats poor science
and faulty thinking.
3. Overconfidence in ones own
assessment. You dont really know why other people do
things. And yet you hold your judgments with excessive confidence.
We all do it. Overconfidence in our conclusions is a fallibility
of human nature.
THESE THOUGHT MISTAKES can be corrected
with practice. The technique is simple: Pay attention to your
assessments of other people, and then question and criticize
your judgments. Are you jumping to conclusions? Are you overgeneralizing?
Do you have enough knowledge to be able to make such an assessment?
Think about it rationally. Maybe youre
being too hasty. Maybe youre being unnecessarily harsh.
Havent you yourself done something similar? Sure you have.
But there were extenuating circumstances that at least
partially excused you, werent there? Maybe this person
has reasons too, but you dont know about them. Its
not only possible, its very likely.
Question your judgments and youll
find that many of them arent worth much, and youll
stop holding them.
And what will happen? Youll feel
less stress. Youll find your relationships gently blossoming
in a new way. Youll be able to talk to the person more
freely. Youll be more relaxed. Conflicts will be easier
to resolve because youll be able to communicate without
anger (no judgement, no anger) and without making the other person
defensive (when youre not judging, people dont feel
attacked, so they dont get defensive). And in the long
run, less stress, anger, and frustration adds up to better health
Once you start paying attention to it,
you may find out youre in the habit of judging people a
lot. Does this make you bad and wrong? No. Only human. Judging
yourself is faulty thinking too.
Question and criticize
your negative judgements of people.