Why do we judge other people?
Judgement is one of those things we all do, whether we’re conscious of it or not… Actually I think it’s mostly unconscious. But judgement – of ourselves and of others – is a major cause of why we all feel rubbish.
Here are four reasons we judge other people:
1. We judge others because we are insecure
When we make a judgement about someone else, it’s usually a comparison against ourselves. Often we end up almost ranking ourselves against others, and for a while we might even feel good about ourselves. When we see someone doing something we disapprove of it’s easy to think, At least I’m not that bad – or we see someone fatter, more spotty, with a bigger bum than us and think, At least I don’t look like that.
We feel insecure, and think that judging someone else will make us feel better, but the fact is that if we are accustomed to judging ourselves as better than certain other people, we will also inevitably end up judging ourselves as not as good as some others – the better looking, the younger, the more intelligent, the clean eater, whatever. By making ourselves “better than,” we also become “less than” and by relying on others to feel good about ourselves, we end up in a position where anyone and anything can affect how we feel.
2. We judge others because we want to be different
Often when we decide we want to make a change in our own lives, we begin to see those around us in a different light. The classic example here is the person who gives up smoking and immediately begins complaining about the smell of smoke and how disgusting it is for people to smoke.
This can also happen the other way around, where we want to make a change and so we judge those who already have. For example, we want to get fit and lose weight, but while we’re busy thinking about it a friend begins their journey and begins to lose weight and look good – rather than congratulating them or asking for their advice or support, we judge them instead and make comments about how “it’ll never last” or “she’s losing weight too quickly, she looks ill.”
3. We judge others to feel that we belong
There is a long tradition in our culture of people bonding over their mutual judgement of others. I am no exception here, and women especially are prone to this sort of thing – though I also know plenty of men who find judgement of others a great way of bonding. It becomes almost universal; we judge people we know, and people we don’t know. We judge other parents at the school gate; we judge celebrities in magazines; we judge people at work and people who live around the corner. It ends up being a way of fitting in with others, of bonding, and not feeling so alone.
The problem is that the bonds we forge through judging others are based on negativity. Nobody ever walks away from a good bitching session feeling good – we generally walk away feeling dirty and guilty. We know what we’ve just been doing is unkind and unnecessary. It’s also worth bearing in mind that if your friend(s) will talk about someone else like that with you, how do you know they’re not doing the same about you to other people?
4. We judge people because we are conditioned to
These days the media is filled with invitations to judge others. I’m willing to bet you could switch on your TV at any point of the day or night and find a show on one channel or another which is inviting you to judge others. Judge the poor people on one of Channel 5’s “poverty porn” shows. Judge the fat people on one of the weight loss shows. Pass judgement on the drunk people; the young people; the families whose lifestyle differs from yours. Open a magazine and judge the celebrity who is too fat, too thin, too promiscuous. It’s everywhere, and many of us don’t know any different; we might not even realise we are judging anyone. Judgement has just become something we are all socially conditioned to do.