Why we judge others

We all judge one another. We judge each other’s actions. We judge each other’s words. We like to package people and put them in boxes. We identify people by education, age, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, physical appearance, income, class, behaviors, etc. The assumption here is that the brain understands these patterns via these boxes and helps us deal with life on a daily basis.

What exactly happens when we judge others? We can see a few subtle and obvious markers as we judge others. We stay from a few, we hurt a few, we deny that we are hurting ourselves too, we are harsh on ourselves. Above all, we assume things about others because we don’t see things as they are but we see them as we are.

Why do we judge others? It is usually to assess how much in common we have the other person. If the proximity is high then we hit it off with the person immediately and if the proximity is farther away, we get our defenses up and ready.

While growing up, we see it at home, at school and the workplace while growing up. The assumption is that judging is a common pattern which is okay to follow.

Let me share an example with you. A man was sitting on the subway and noticed a father with three small children. He was completely aloof to the children who were goofing off and making a lot of noise. The man became agitated at the father. The father was just staring off into space, completely oblivious to what the children were doing. Meanwhile, the other passengers grew more and more irritated.

Eventually, the man went over to the father. He asked about the kids. “Why aren’t you doing something about those kids?” The father looked over, eyes swollen, completely dazed. He focused his attention on the man in front of him. “Oh. Them? Yeah, I should probably do something. We just got back from the hospital. Their mother just died of cancer. I don’t think they know how to respond or what’s really going on.”

The man’s heart sunk into his stomach. He took a big gulp and reached out and gave the man a hug. “I’ m sorry,” he said. “I’m truly sorry.” The train came to a screeching halt and the father exited with the kids. The man sat back down and thought about what had just happened. He thought about how he had judged that father for being a bad parent. He simply didn’t know what the father was going through or what was happening. Sometimes, you never know!

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Seema Chinchore

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