Most people I know seem to realize that judging others is not OK, and most try to do as little as possible of it. However, it is still a temptation that we all unconsciously fall prey to now and then. It is therefore necessary to identify our little habits that lead to judging others and stop them before the judgment begins.  

Judging a situation is how we evolved to avoid danger, so it is a useful tool, but when it turns into the judgment of others for no good reason, we have to stop it. Below are some tricks I learned to recognize when I’m being overly critical and what helps to nip it in the bud.  

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  1. You probably know less about others than you think 

No matter how well we know our friends, there is always a chance that there is something they are not telling us. This is often their innermost anguish that they feel just too embarrassed to talk about. This often plays out in destructive behavior such as eating, drinking, or partying too much. These behaviors are easy to judge, but that is the last thing your friend needs right now. Their behavior is actually a sign that they need more compassion, not more judgment. If they know you as a non-judgmental person, they might even open up to you about things they never thought they’d tell anyone, allowing you to really help them. And, even if they don’t, always remember that we don’t always know why people act the way they do.  

2. Also look to yourself 

Whenever you feel angry, irritated, or judgmental about others, also stop to think if you may not be the reason for your feelings. Sometimes we are jealous of the success of others, especially when we don’t think they deserve it. Sometimes we find their habits a bit more annoying than we should. And sometimes, we are just tired, overworked, stressed, or unhappy. The good news is that fixing ourselves is easier than trying to fix others. Sometimes, it just takes a bit more positivity about your own life to be less judgmental of others. I think it helps to adopt the mindset that we should be just as happy for other people as we want them to be for us when something good happens in our lives.  

3. Think about the present 

As I said, the reason we judge people is because that is how our defense mechanism evolved. We are good at recognizing patterns, which helps when you want to avoid wild animals, but not so much when you are trying to build lasting relationships in the modern world. When you see a bad pattern of behavior in your friends’ actions, try your best not to make it about the pattern, but about the present. This is very difficult, especially if you are having an argument. If we have to stop and be honest, has bringing up the past helped in any argument you’ve ever had? I bet it hasn’t. Even if your friend has bad habits, just try to deal with the present action, because then you are not asking them to change their entire lives. Also, in the heat of the moment, when judgment comes all too easy, try to take a deep breath and remember all the reasons they are your friend. You may well come to realize that you also have certain traits that others could judge, but instead they have your back.