Don't Judge Others
Judging another person can come in many shapes and sizes. We judge people immediately upon meeting them, without actually getting to know them, and we also judge the actions of the people we know very well. In both of these circumstances, we are judging what we do not quite understand. A really great public speaker used the song the townspeople sing in Beauty and the Beast as an example: ‘we don’t like what we don’t understand. In fact it scares us.’ This is true for all of us at some point. When we don’t understand something or someone we tend to jump to conclusions, often rejecting what isn’t our preference. It’s important to get to know someone before forming concrete opinions about them.
When we first meet someone and we aren’t quite sure what they are about, we can be quick to make a snap judgment. I have fallen victim to this and am guilty of doing it myself. I have met someone, thought that first impression was enough, and made my conclusions based on very little information. As I get older, I have been proven wrong enough times to know that quick judgments can really hinder what could be great relationships.
I do feel that it’s only natural (as humans) to immediately begin judging/ assessing/ forming opinions about a person as soon as you meet them. What’s important, is keeping an open mind and allowing your judgement/ opinion to change and grow as you continue to learn more about that person.
My friend David once apologized to me for making a snap judgment of me. I had never had someone admit to doing it let alone apologize for it. He admitted that he thought that I was stuck up when he first met me. He said because I was quiet and didn’t talk to many people he assumed I thought I was better than everyone. He said that he was incredibly surprised when he got to know me that I was nothing like what he had expected. I wasn’t quiet because I was stuck up; I was quiet because I was shy. I had just moved across the country, just started college, and was a bit overwhelmed. He was so honest that he had made a snap judgment of me, and that once he got to know me, realized he was completely wrong. After he apologized, I realized that I have made assumptions about people I don’t even know very well. (and we all know what they say about assuming!) You can’t control the narrative of others, but you can control your own. What other people think of us is none of our business, but we have complete control over how we perceive and treat others.
We don’t always know what is best for others.
When it comes to people we already have a solid relationship with, making judgments can be damaging. When someone close to us is doing something that we don’t quite understand or agree with, it’s easy to be judgmental. It’s easy to think we know what is best for them and the situation, and assume that they aren’t seeing things clearly. As a friend, it isn’t up to us to make these kinds of decisions for our friends, but to voice our opinions, and be there in spite of their decisions. If our friends are doing something truly destructive then that’s when it’s up to us decide if we can bear witness to it or if we need to bow out completely.
My favorite podcast “Dear Sugar” had an episode called “My Best Friend’s Wedding” that touched on this subject and was completely enlightening to me. The letter was written by a girl whose best friend was getting married to someone she had just met. Her friend had been engaged before and it didn’t last, and now she has rushed into another engagement after 6 months of dating a guy. The letter writer is concerned that her friend is continuing a pattern of making hasty decisions that end up being a mistake. I don’t relate to this particular situation, but what I do relate to is having a friend or someone in your life that makes a decision that you don’t agree with. You want to talk to them and discuss their decision, but you know their mind is already made up. I don’t find myself to be a very judgmental person by any means, but this episode made me realize that sometimes I do judge certain situations when I have no right to. People you care about are going to make mistakes and all you can do is be there for them when they do. On the podcast, they not only discuss friendships, but judgment. One thing they say that I agree with so strongly, is that when you judge someone it says much more about you than it does about the other person. It’s so easy to judge someone based on decisions that they make, but everyone has the right to make their own decisions. Who are we to think that we know better?
Keep an open mind and an open heart.
Keep an open mind and an open heart, whether it’s meeting someone for the first time or discussing a situation with a dear friend. Instead of jumping to conclusions or making quick judgments, ask relevant questions and try to be understanding. Nobody wants to be around someone that is critical and judgmental.
I still struggle not judging what I do not understand, and thinking that I know what’s best for others, however it’s become more important to me to understand someone and what they are going through than to be right. I realized the people that are the most fun to be around are the people that love me unconditionally, wholeheartedly, with no reserve, no matter what. And that is who I want to be to the people I care about. If I had stuck to my quick judgments, I wouldn’t be the person I am, and I wouldn’t be surrounded by some of the most amazing people that I know.