Being judgy

Making judgements or comments about other people or situations is a common human frailty.

As I’ve been practicing mindfulness meditation each day, the subject of making judgements has arisen from the teachers I’ve been listening to. It’s easy to condemn oneself for being judgy of other people especially. In making judgements we consider ourselves as superior, more aware, more informed, or the other person somehow inferior to us.

Joseph Goldstein, who has been teaching meditation for over four decades and is the author of One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism, said that there are two aspects to freeing ones mind from making judgements or comments about people and situations:

The first is the obvious one, which is to notice when we do it. For example, when we’re making a judgement about the person who is hesitating at the stop sign when we definitely would have moved by now. Or when we’re judging our friend the Dad who works interstate 5 days per week and rarely sees his wife and young children. Or another friend the Mum who has her one year old daughter in day care from 6:30am to 6:30pm each work day so she can work in her high-flying career.

The second aspect is to notice when we condemn ourselves for being judgemental. Which is to say, to notice when we are judging ourselves for being judgy! In being mindful of this, we then have the power to stop feeding the cycle of thought that creates these comments in the first place.

It’s unlikely that we can be completely free of making judgements, but in simply noticing these thoughts arising, and also noticing when we judge ourselves for having them, we can largely liberate ourselves from the suffering associated with being judgemental.