“I can’t help but judge”

May 20, 2014

when-you-judge-anotherJudging is an American spectator sport that really could have its own Olympic team.

We judge. We opine. We even have secret thoughts.

We all do it.

What? You say you don’t?

I don’t believe you.

Judging can be evaluating: is this choice better than another?

Or  it can be…. judgmental. Purposeless. Or even mean.

That’s one of our greatest fears, isn’t it? Being judged. Of being deemed unworthy in some way.


Here are the synonyms for judgmental:







Those are not benign words.

7117816429_3200e417f3Not too long ago someone online wrote, “I can’t help but judge you if I see you have an AOL email address.”  It made me laugh. But it serves as a good example. She looks at AOL email addresses as evidence that someone’s stodgy, old-fashioned and out of touch. But maybe there’s another way to look at it. I have an AOL email address. I’ve had it since 1996. I use it for subscriptions, junk mail and for online contacts. It’s my “public” email address. It’s the one I would give her, since she isn’t yet a personal friend. My personal friends use a different email address to communicate with me. No, not Gmail. I can’t stand Gmail.

I live in Silicon Valley. I had a long career in tech. And I use an AOL address because it’s convenient for my almost 20 years of online life. Because I don’t want to junk up my personal email.

Which, by the way, is Ymail, a Yahoo email service. Another email service she judges. Yahoo is a local company. It started right here in Silicon Valley and it’s still here.  It’s not perfect, but it’s adequate. AND it’s not Gmail. Which I don’t like.

If this is how you judge me, well, go right ahead.  But it raised a bigger issue.

Just like my online pal says she judges–but doesn’t have the fuller picture–so do we all. Often when we make a critical comment about someone, we aren’t taking in the whole person. We’re evaluating them based on one small facet.

Is that really an accurate view?

Someone else I know works with overweight people and confessed that she judges them.  Fat-shaming is another Olympic sport in this country. But what about looking at the entire person? The beauty of their loving personality or their intellectual accomplishments?  Wouldn’t it be more loving to look at their struggles? Their effort at changing their lives? Why evaluate people on the basis of one superficial factor?

6940186212_f4444297bf_zIt’s interesting that being judged is one of the things we fear most–that fear often prevents us from stepping out into the great unknown–and yet, we all make judgmental shortcuts, evaluating someone based on one tiny factor.

I’ve been working hard these past years to use my compassion to look past the most apparent factors and find the thread of humanity that binds us all together. Unbeknownst to me, that simple act of connecting with another’s pain more deeply has had significant personal byproducts. It honed my ability to forgive, increased my capacity to love and allowed me to see beauty I might otherwise have missed.

What might you be missing by taking the shortcut of judgment?  And here’s what Miss Manners said a couple weeks ago about judging, and Miss Manners knows best:

Miss Manners: Don’t judge lest you be judged

By Judith Martin United Feature Syndicate, Inc.

Posted:   05/05/2014

DEAR MISS MANNERS: A new chairman was recently hired for my department. He and his wife have been in town a few months and are gradually getting to know the rest of the faculty.Miss Manners, the wife’s hairstyle is frankly grotesque. She wears it wildly teased and sprayed like a country singer from the 1970s. She is a nice lady, but everyone is tittering and making derisive comments behind her back. Can she (and her husband) truly be unaware of how inappropriate she looks? How, if at all, should this be addressed?

GENTLE READER: Does your college have a coiffure code? And do you really propose to enforce one unilaterally?  Miss Manners warns you that to level criticism in any way will make your life a misery. You would only be asking people to judge your own stylistic choices.


36 comments on ““I can’t help but judge”
  1. I work really hard at not judging people, because i have found in my 48 years that when I do I cut myself off from people. In the end it only hurts me. Thanks for a great reminder!

  2. It is true we all judge. I am finding it the hardest habit to break. I am trying. Looking for similarities first, makes it easier.
    At the same time I am trying to stop judging myself so harshly.

  3. Ryder Ziebarth says:

    I love this post and good for you to bring it to light. Guilty, so guilty as charged. I think I try not to judge, but I must do it 100 times a day. I have two judgmental parents, who raised three judgmental children, whom are all very close. Although I try to stop the words from coming out of my mouth, no matter how “funny” or “right” I think I am, I needed a good slap in la bouche to remind me, I am no better than those I judge.So , I am going to try to have a judge free day. All day to day. I’ll report back, and thank you for the wake-up call

  4. Joy brown says:

    Great words to read today!!! thank you so much!

  5. Ahhhh….passing judgement. Societies fave. I’m guilty too. Compassion is something to work on, at least I need to. Compassion and gratitude – life’s greatest gifts.

  6. Haralee says:

    Preconceived perceptions and pigeon holing along with judging some one are tough not to do because sometimes you don’t even realize you are doing it! I will step in when someone is looking for work with the public and their appearance can be modified and they are not getting job offers if asked.

  7. Great post Carol! I think I’m a pretty accepting person but I still make a conscious effort to NOT judge.

  8. Judging others is part of the human condition it seems. I think I do it less than others, but maybe I don’t! I do my best not to judge others, but that voice is in my head, judging.

  9. I am taking this and posting it to my FB page for The Mom Pledge. I began an anti-cyber campaign aimed at mothers, who are SO ugly to one another online it is amazing. Thank you for this post and this message. So important!

  10. I love the way you always get to the heart of the matter Carol! You know the bible says “Judge not lest you be judged”. I feel like I am being judged all the time, my looks, my choices, my writing. I didn’t used to be like this but since I got sick and have lost most of my looks and have gained weight it has stopped me from making new friends or even being social. I feel people only look at the outside and miss my inside. I am a warm, caring person I am just painfully shy.

  11. I think we all judge, we can’t help but do it. But i think the point is to keep it to ourselves. There have been many times when I’ve changed my impression of someone as I’ve gotten to know them and not only been glad that I kept the initial judgement to myself, but been grateful that I was open to looking further. Some of those people have become very close friends.

  12. Ruth Curran says:

    Oh yes, Miss Manners is always right! Even though it is hard work not to “judge”, turn about is fair play. I think I will go brush my hair now….

  13. carol graham says:

    You nailed it when you said that people judge out of fear. They also judge because they are dealing with low self-esteem and think that judging makes them superior. As a health coach, I hear so many sad stories from people. Often they hide it so well and you would never guess they are struggling. If you are quick to judge, people rarely open up to you. This is something I have screamed out from the roof tops, possibly because I was the victim of misjudgement for so many years, as many of us are.

  14. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Judging — and hyper judging — is so ingrained in our society, and I hate it. I am just as guilty of it as the next person, but I try to catch myself when I do it.

  15. I am a Christian and my goal is to love as Jesus loved. He was not judgmental in any way. I think no matter our faith, all people at times judge others. I love blogging because I have met so many amazing women who are very different from me and I so enjoy conversing with them several times a week. Grace is powerful and that is where I and many of my Christian friends try to live…we were showed grace and it is a gift I love to give to others. I love the last quote! Please don’t judge all Christians by the bad behavior of a few…love me as you would others!

  16. I think it’s human nature to judge others to a certain extent. When we see stupid stuff about celebrities, we’re quick to think hp dumb they are (like Bieber). But you are correct here in saying that we really DON’T know what they’re going through unless we walk a mile in their shoes. We all need to take a step back and think first before reacting and judging.

  17. D. A. Wolf says:

    Sadly, women judge each other routinely. I’d like to think that as we mature – or live through some hard times – we learn not to do this.

    Great post.

  18. It’s tough — I work at it every day, all day long, but it just seems to pop out of nowhere some days. At least I’m aware of it, so I can work at NOT doing it when I remember……thanks for the reminder.

  19. It’s so easy to sit in judgement over someone else and it makes great conversation, doesn’t it? Sadly, many of us don’t realize how awful it is even when the person has no clue that we’re judging them!

  20. Janie Emaus says:

    I truly try not to judge people. But it is hard sometimes.

  21. My mom used to say, “Judge not lest the same damned thing happen to you.” I think she was referencing a bit of karma that might bite us in the ass if we aren’t careful

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