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We judge. Human beings judge. It’s unavoidable.

We can choose, however, to set our first judgements aside and look again, look harder, and look for the story that we aren’t seeing. What’s the difference between the story we see, and the story the other person might be telling themselves?

“Why is she dressing like that. She has kids, what will they think?”

We are guilty of comparing our perceptions with a societal standard, even if we don’t know where the standard came from or why it’s relevant.

Perhaps the story she is telling herself is that she wants to look desirable. She is careful about what she eats and works hard on her body at the gym, and it makes her day a little brighter to get a few double-takes from passers by. Our judgement of her doesn’t help her or us.

“He’s such an idiot, why would he join this church that’s obviously a cult.”

What story is he telling himself?

Maybe his obsession with work and providing for his family has spoiled his relationships with his children who value quality time, and he’s looking for community, forgiveness and a chance to reconnect with something he feels he has lost.

Now I am no saint, and just like you I judge people too. It’s worth remembering to take a step back and think about our perceptions, our standards, and what this does to us. Because I think that our judgements say more about us than they do about other people, and they hurt us more than we would like to admit.

Next time you catch yourself judging someone’s external appearance, their words or their attitudes, try to take a moment to reframe. What story could they be telling themselves, and why might they be right to do so.