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  • Writer's pictureLindsay Johnson

How to Stop Judging Yourself and Others: What You Need to Know

Learn how to stop judging yourself and what to do when you notice yourself judging others.

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“Self-judgment results from thoughts individuals have about themselves and the meanings attached to those thoughts. The thoughts, hence, produce related feelings such as anxiety, anger, and depression [1].”

Often, this can cause you to get in your own way. Those thoughts can cause you to make unhelpful judgments about yourself as a defense mechanism. For example, if you are hard on yourself and criticize everything you do, then when you receive criticism from others, it will be easier to take.

This is a mechanism of protection against failure, pain, and rejection.

But judgment is very common—both judging oneself and others. In this article, we explain more about judgment, including why you judge yourself so much, how to get out of your own way, and a little about how to stop judging others.

Key Takeaways:

  • Self-judgment is common and can be a source of anger, depression, and anxiety

  • Use the STOP mindful technique to mitigate harmful self-judgment 

  • The judgment of others is often based on incomplete information

Why do I judge myself so much?

There are numerous reasons why you might judge yourself often. The answer will vary depending on who you ask. But know that it’s human nature—it’s a natural instinct of the human brain.

Some self-judgment can be good. For example, stoic philosophy encourages self-examination, assessing whether actions and behavior aligns with your beliefs. This can be a helpful tool to make sure your thoughts and actions live up to your own standards.

This type of self-judgment can be good. It’s a tool to hold yourself accountable and foster self-improvement. On the other hand, if you're judging yourself to protect yourself from the opinions and criticism of others, your self-judgment can be more harmful than good. But don’t worry—we’ll help you get out of your own way!

How do I stop being so judgmental to myself?

If you think your self-judgment is causing more harm than good, you can apply the Stop mindfulness technique.

Stop is an acronym for:

  • Stop

  • Take a breath

  • Observe 

  • Proceed 

Whenever you notice yourself being judged, say the word stop and follow the above instructions. Take a breath, observe why you are judging yourself and what emotions you are feeling, and then proceed with your day.

By noticing judgment patterns and understanding why you are self-judging, you can begin to eliminate judgment patterns. 

It’s a simple exercise that can be done anywhere, anytime.

Look at the facts

Alongside the stop mindfulness technique, it can be helpful to use an objective viewpoint to look at the facts surrounding why you are judging yourself.

For example, let’s say you're judging yourself because you didn’t get much work done today. You spent the day procrastinating, and now you're judging yourself because you couldn’t sit and focus. 

Instead of judging yourself, look at the facts. Why did you struggle to focus? Have you been working too much? Is your work environment conducive to productivity and work? Did you spend too much time on your phone the evening before and got a bad night’s sleep? 

Look at the facts and use an objective viewpoint. If you got little work done today, there’s always tomorrow. Rest, recover, recuperate, and go again. But do your best to get out of your own head!

How to stop judging others 

It’s human nature to judge others. As hunter-gatherers, judgment was essential for survival. Humans would constantly compare themselves to others and judge others. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t survive.

Judgment is a means of determining whether or not a person is trustworthy and safe. That’s cool, but as modern-day species, it’s less about survival. So, what can you do to stop judging others?

Firstly, know that you’re not seeing the whole picture. When you judge someone, you only see a very brief snippet of their life. Let’s say someone loses their temper, and you immediately judge them. What you have not seen is all the little actions that led up to that moment. Maybe they’re being mistreated or unappreciated at home, perhaps a loved one just died, they lost their job, or they’ve just found out some bad news.

We’re quick to jump the gun, but we don’t have the whole picture. 

You can use the stop principle when judging others, too. Whenever you catch yourself ready to judge, stop, take a breath, ask yourself why you’re judging that person, and then move on. 

It can also be helpful to ask yourself what you gain from judging others. More than likely, you gain nothing. In fact, the only thing you might gain is a few negative thoughts.

To Conclude 

Self-judgment can be crippling. When you’re questioning every little thing you do and comparing yourself to others or even yourself, it can be exhausting, emotionally draining, and harmful.

And while some self-judgment can be used as a means of self-improvement, there’s a fine line between productive self-judgment and harmful feelings of anger, depression, and anxiety.

Use the stop mindfulness technique to recognize self-judgment patterns and to start getting out of your own way.

Looking for more? Contact a Wellbeing Manager to discuss your organizational wellbeing needs.

References: 1 Phaedonos, P. and Anastassiou-Hadjicharalambous, X., 2011. self-judgment. Encyclopedia of Child Behavior and Development, pp.1318-1319.


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