Principle I: Judgement is a Natural Ability
We all know that people judge others, at least we are all born with the ability and craving to do so. Whether we evolve enough as individuals to remove this impulse from our being is a separate issue. For those that haven’t…
People like to ‘people watch’. I know I do.
We sit on our thrones and make a game out of critiquing unaware people while they ignorantly carry on about their day. Chances are our playful judgements are meaningless, but the takeaway here is how common people just sit and judge each other for no apparent reason.
We say our secret judgments to ourselves or someone close to us as if we were the only ones that have them- and they do the same about the two people snickering to each other across the room.
Mini spotlights of judgement and you never know when you are in the middle of it.
Is it the moment you bumped into a wall?? …casually turning around to see if anyone noticed your clumsy mistake; as if it would make a difference if you knew.
Imagine sitting on a bench, and as you peruse the scene in people watch mode, you come across another bench. You look at who’s sitting there and you lock eyes briefly with another person, who also happens to be people watching.
It’s as if you were caught doing something you weren’t supposed to.
Running with the “bump into a wall” example… everyone is clumsy once in a while, why are we so critical of ourselves? If you turned and saw people staring, maybe even smirking, that’s usually when embarrassment comes into play.
If you turned and saw no one, you would feel nothing. What does that mean?
We make that choice to feel embarrassed.
Principle 2: Judgement is linked to Insecurity
I also believe there is a strong correlation between the level of judgement and the level of insecurity that person feels.
In other words…
The more you judge, the more insecure you may be; in theory.
We all know judgments happen and almost constantly so in public settings. Even though people may not care about you, or care to know you, we care how they feel and think about us- to the degree at which we judge others.
There is a reward we all receive intrinsically for being “accepted” by those around you. Humans are reward seekers; as is all other forms of life.
A new person’s judgments are like fun, mini-validations of living the right way. Endorphins gained from a compliment can change the overall feel of someone’s day.
Sometimes a stranger’s quick judgement of you (good or bad) based on limited information is highly important to us.
Well, hold on a second.
I thought only important people in our lives hold this sort of weight upon us; perhaps you’ll never see that person again
So how can this be true?
Due to the craving to know who we are, we give unpredictable and immeasurable weight to the quick judgments of those we don’t know so well, or at all. It’s almost as if the more desperate, or lonely and searching, a person is, the more seriously random judgment is taken.
On the latter of that thought, a fulfilled and satisfied person may give very little to no weight on random judgments.
Insecurity skews reality and makes you forget that the person has no idea about anything else you’ve done or accomplished in your life. Even if you made a mistake and know it, the judgement is extreme because that person only has that very limited information about you.
Limited information = ignorance.
For whatever reason, I don’t readily think ignorance when I’m faced with someone else’s quick judgement whom I do not know personally. I think it’s because I give them the benefit of doubt that maybe they do have ground to stand on with their opinions and judgments.
So, skewed by my own insecurity, I recognize ignorance in myself; as oppose to the ignorance of the other.
Principle 3: Judgement is a Defense Mechanism
Judging others isn’t always a bad thing. And I know a big part of it is for self-preservation (a defense mechanism). Judgments stem from values instilled by others (those most important to us) and personal experience.
If your judgments are screaming danger based on those things, you should not treat is as if it is the first time you’ve encountered whatever it is.
Stated that way it sounds reasonable. But consider the word racism.
A brief real life example…
I was jumped by a gang of about 15 black people. I say gang, because the gang had an official name, I say black because they were all black. One of them struck me on the side of the head with a 2 by 4 piece of wood, with nails sticking out the end of it.
What they didn’t realize was my being a Marine veteran and my roommate was an Army veteran- a true American war hero. So we jumped right back. But it was still a looong recovery and legal proceedings that ensued.
My heart is actually pounding right now thinking about this. That is how a judgement is learned and ingrained for future use.
That makes me feel better about it. I feel as if it is my own, uncovered by myself.
The point is now when I see a group of black people walking towards me, with a similar fashion sense to those that jumped me (not business suits), I will not be comfortable. I will try to avoid the situation altogether.
Yes, in some cases that can be misconstrued as racism, because the group of black people may actually be very nice people. But my instincts tell me I might not get a second chance to even find that out.
This is a learned judgement drawn from personal experience, not so much instilled from other sources like media and societal influences.
These Judgement Principles play out within each of us every day, and we apply them to everyone and everything-equally.