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We’ve all been there. You see someone you don’t know doing something that you disagree with and you immediately think, “That is so wrong/stupid/bad”. But wait! Before you go judging them, ask yourself: am I being judgemental?

It’s not always easy to catch ourselves in the act of passing judgement towards yourself, others, or even the world around you, although it is important to try. Why? Because judgement can lead to feelings of superiority, close-mindedness, and disconnection from others and the world around you. It can be a drain on our emotional capacity and ineffective use of energy.

If you find yourself regularly judging yourself or others, fear not! Below are some easy methods for recognizing when you’re being judgemental and how to reframe your thinking. With a little practice, you can break the habit of judging others, practice radical acceptance of the world around you, and live a more compassionate life!

What is judgement, and why do we judge others and ourselves?

Judgement, which is essentially a form of evaluation, can be tricky and often leads us to make assumptions about others. Often when people experience complex trauma they can create a more extreme or judgemental view towards themselves and the world around them in an effort of protecting themselves emotionally, and judging can also serve an attempt to determine safety in our emotional minds or trauma response.

It’s remarkable how often we judge without ever stooping to understand the underlying reasons for someone’s choices or opinions. There are countless possibilities for why one chooses certain paths in life, and it’s important to remember that judgement without thoughtfulness can have serious impacts on people’s lives. Thus, it behooves us to tread carefully when it comes to judging, be it making judgements of ourselves or others!

How can you tell if you’re being judgemental towards someone or something?

Have you ever noticed yourself automatically making assumptions about somebody or something without taking the time to get all the facts? This could be a sign that you’re being judgemental. Judgements are essentially interpretations of an experience based on assumptions and emotional attachment.

Instead of judging someone or something, try using descriptive language that captures the specifics of what it is you’re observing or experiencing. It’s much more effective because it acknowledges what really happened without allowing assumptions and emotions to interfere.

We can watch out for specific words in our thought process or language that are often used in judgemental language to identify when we are judging ourselves or others. Judgements often use the words “should, shouldn’t, good, bad, etc.” Try to identify judgemental thoughts as judgements, so that you don’t assume that your judgement is a fact of reality and you can see it for what it is!

Examples of judgements:

“I shouldn’t have eaten that second piece of cake.”

“I should know how to manage my emotions.”

“I had a bad day today.”

Why is it important to reframe your judgement in a more descriptive and dialectical perspective?

Reframing our judgement in a more dialectical perspective is a powerful tool that helps us better understand the complex circumstances of life and create balance in our emotional experience. When you pause for a moment and look at your judgements from a dialectical perspective that uses descriptive language to focus on the facts of reality, it’s easier to create an empathetic perspective towards the behaviors of others and understand where various parties are coming from.

By focusing on identifying judgemental language and reframing it using descriptive language, we can create room to allow for compassion towards our own experiences and the experiences of those around us. Through descriptive language focused on the facts of reality, we can focus our descriptions on identifying safe vs. unsafe or harmful vs. not harmful behaviors to keep ourselves safe and create effective boundaries with others.

A simple approach towards reframing judgements using descriptive and dialectical language is to only describe what you can actually observe with your five senses (vision, hearing, smell, taste, touch). When you focus on descriptive reframes of your experience towards yourself and the world around you, you create space for more empathy, compassion, and a balanced perspective towards human behavior. It may take a bit of practice mastering this perspective, and learning to identify and reframe judgement will serve us well as we go through life.

How can you start to reframe your judgement today, both towards yourself and the world around you?

Reframing your judgement is a practice that can feel challenging and uncomfortable. To start, it’s important to only focus on the facts you can observe with your five senses; this helps to prevent the opinion or emotion of judgement interfering and clouding your view. When observing without judgement, ask yourself ‘is this situation safe or unsafe’ and act accordingly if necessary. It is important to use descriptive evaluations of a situation to create safety.

“This food is bad” is a judgmental statement, while “this food is expired and smells spoiled” is descriptive language that is important to determine that the food is not safe to eat.

Mindfully practice being more aware and curious about what you do observe and less focused on judging it. Think about how every individual’s experiences shape their perspective, so gaining insight from an alternate point of view on any given subject can help broaden your own understanding and rewire entrenched thoughts for more compassionate thinking.

Examples of reframes of judgements with use of descriptive language that can be observed with 5 senses:

Examples of judgements:

“I shouldn’t have eaten that second piece of cake.”

“I should know how to manage my emotions.”

“I had a bad day today.”

Examples of descriptive reframe:

“My stomach hurts and that cake was delicious. Next time, I can remember to wait to see if I feel full before going for seconds.”

“I struggle with intense emotions and I didn’t have many adults in my life to teach or model how to effectively cope with emotions, so it makes sense that I now need to learn how to regulate my emotions.”

“I felt intense sadness and grief today.”

Ultimately, it comes down to understanding that judgement can feel like a natural, often automatic – well traveled pathway in our brains, and it’s important to identify a judgement as a judgement and know that it is not a fact of reality. By viewing our judgements as the result of our emotional and subjective experience, we can open up space for compassion and understanding by recognizing that this judgment is not a fact or even perception that may be held by others around us.

By reframing your judgements and moving away from categorizations and sweeping generalizations, we can all start to be more open-minded towards ourselves and the world around us. Through taking the time to reflect on our own judgements and the way we respond to them, we can learn how to be kinder, more accepting and more mindful of what we truly value in life.

From consciously identifying potential judgmental statements within ourselves and allowing ourselves to react without prejudice or bias, to becoming aware of unhelpful thought patterns that go beyond establishing safe vs. unsafe, we can begin to practice more intentional awareness and radical acceptance towards ourselves and the world around us!

So go ahead, try something new today – challenge yourself by being creative with how you identify, observe, and reframe these moments of judgement!

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