When We Judge Others, We Reveal Ourselves

“When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself” ― Earl Nightingale


In other words, when we judge others, we reveal where we are coming from and who we are.

Is there anyone out there who is totally free of faults, always doing what is right and good, at any given time and place? Do I hear anyone?

Be careful how you judge others for it may fall back on you…


No one indeed is perfect, and all are guilty to varying degrees of faults, shortcomings, weaknesses.

There is nothing wrong with sharing one’s opinions or views, giving comments, and even ventilating one’s grievances, denouncing others’ actions or words; these activities form part of our basic human right – the freedom of expression.

But in expressing ourselves, some of us fall into the trap of judging others from our high horses, banging down the gavel hard as if we can do nothing wrong ever! Can people not comment on news stories, current events, public figures without being judgmental?

I recently came upon an enlightening post, The Psychology of Judgmentalism, whereby the writer shares an excerpt from a book whose purpose is to help the reader understand the difference between judgmentalism and the capacity to make moral judgments. It will be helpful for us to ponder on these words:

We may not consciously be aware that tearing down others can inflate ourselves. Yet the underlying message is something like, I wouldn’t think of doing such a thing, or I could never do that or I am shocked and aghast at such behavior. We are usually noting how utterly different we are from these people or how we would simply never sink to their level. Criticizing others is not  just an offensive move against them; it is also a defensive move to protect our own “purity.”When we are judgmental, therefore, we need other people’s faults in order to dodge our own. Stated simply, judgmental thinking is addicted to other people’s faults or destructive behavior. Judgmentalism finds its identity in what it is not. (p. 23)

Think, too, of discriminatory remarks, like when we judge people based on their race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religious beliefs, political views, affiliations and other personal traits. We tend to judge others based on our biases; we look at others especially those different from us through the windows of our pre-conceived notions, fears, ignorance, unconscious prejudices. We may also project what we dislike in ourselves.

Then, there are the aggrieved parties who go public, posting their criticisms or complaints on social media, granting interviews on TV or radio in order to put the object of their ire on the hot seat. Nowadays, the power of media is being abused in this way. Can the aggrieved not have a private talk with the party concerned? Does every complaint be done online and create a viral news out of it? Think trolling, public shaming.

An article published on Psychology Today talks about internet ranting and catharsis. It says that ranting and venting are terrible ways of handling anger. The idea that “venting” anger has a beneficial cathartic effect is well entrenched in modern culture. Belief in the value of venting has manifested in the online world in the form of “rant” sites (e.g. Rant Rampage) where people not only get to freely express their vitriol, they can also read and comment on rants left by other venters. However, decades of research have shown that venting, far from releasing anger, actually makes it worse. Not surprisingly, a recent study has shown that online ranting seems to increase anger and is associated with anger-related problems. Ranting may be problematic because it associated anger with aggressive behavior. On the other hand, expressing anger in a constructive and non-aggressive way can actually be beneficial.

See a related article, Why ranting online doesn’t help manage anger – this though already digresses from the main message of the given quotation.

Even more incomprehensible is why others have to use profanity, whether they are simply giving opinions or airing grievances. Just scan the comment sections of each of the news stories online, and you’ll see what I mean.

The quotation seems too sweeping a statement — we cannot be determined by just one act alone. Yet, if we make a habit of that act, soon it becomes who we are, and that is precisely what the quotation is reminding us about. The manner by which we judge determines who we are.

Thus, before we are tempted to voice out our opinion about others, or post something on our social media pages especially if we are to criticize someone, let us pause to check ourselves – why are we doing it, who do we think we are, where are we coming from, do we want such rantings to be attached to how we identify ourselves?

“How would your life be different if…You stopped making negative judgmental assumptions about people you encounter? Let today be the day…You look for the good in everyone you meet and respect their journey.”
Steve Maraboli, Life, the Truth, and Being Free


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