There are so many situations in life where it’s tempting to respond with immediate judgment.
But non-judgmental people have certain habits and ways of living their lives that help them stay in the chill lane.
Here’s their secret.
1) Looking in the mirror
People who don’t judge start by looking in the mirror.
They do so honestly and fully.
By this I mean that they take a thorough look at their own faults.
It’s easy to judge others when we put ourselves on a pedestal.
But when you’ve seen your shadow side and been honest about where you fall short, it’s much harder to judge others harshly.
After all, many of the mistakes and stupid things they do are things we may have once done or are only one step away from doing given the wrong situation.
2) Giving the benefit of the doubt
There are two basic ways to look at the people around us:
To filter their actions as stupid, malicious, evil and ridiculous, or to suspend judgment and give them the benefit of the doubt.
This ties into confirmation bias, which is our preconceptions and how they shape what we see.
If you believe a certain city is full of idiots and a driver zips past you aggressively, you’re likely to nod in disgust: these folks are reckless fools.
In fact, that driver may be speeding on her way to the hospital.
Giving people the benefit of the doubt, at least once, is a key to not judging them.
This ties into the next point…
3) Refusing to judge by someone’s worst moments
When we see somebody do something awful or stupid, sometimes it’s exactly what we think.
Take the common situation of receiving very poor customer service when returning an item to the department store.
A judgmental person may start thinking “this salesperson is a stupid and rude person. I hate them.”
The individual who doesn’t judge has a different habit.
He or she refuses to judge this salesperson by their current behavior or the moment they’re currently in.
It’s fully possible to say “I’d like to receive better help on this issue” without anger and without judging the person providing poor service.
Judging people at their worst moment leads to mistaken assumptions and many lost opportunities.
4) Seeing people’s hidden potential
Judgmental people look at the surface and reach conclusions based on their standards and perceptions of a person, place or situation.
Non-judgmental folks suspend judgment and exercise patience.
When it comes to people they know that many of us have hidden potential.
All it takes to make that come out is some faith and being willing to give somebody the benefit of the doubt which I spoke about earlier.
The key is to provide room for somebody to grow and change in a positive way, rather than judging them and freezing their identity as a static value in your mind.
5) Only competing against themselves
What would happen if you defeated every single social, career, and romantic barrier that’s blocking you?
You’d be highly fulfilled and full of joy, most likely.
But if you defeated every single person who’s doing better than you in their life, you might well reach the “top” but you’d feel hollow inside.
That’s because competing against others in terms of life success is a losing game.
Non-judgmental people only compete against themselves and only judge themselves.
They may meet a rich kid who’s showing off his expensive sunglasses and driving a way better car than they could ever afford.
Most would say this guy is an arrogant idiot and judge him, but the non-judgmental person shrugs it off: being that kind of person and acting out that role is its own punishment if you really think about it.
6) Practicing forgiveness
I’ve struggled a lot with the idea of forgiveness, and I think many people do.
The thing is that forgiveness isn’t about saying that the actions of other people were OK or not a big deal.
Forgiveness is about moving on.
You forgive, but you don’t forget.
There’s no way to be a non-judgmental person without practicing forgiveness.
Forgiveness is often done within a spiritual or religious context, but it can also be within your philosophy and ethics even if you’re a non-spiritual person.
Forgiving those who’ve done wrong is often the best way to go for moving forward in life and reaching our full potential.
7) Leaving room for future redemption
The next habit of people who don’t judge is to leave room for future redemption.
They think back to all the times in life when somebody could have judged them and locked them into a disempowering or limited role.
When we give people a chance for future redemption we also give ourselves some more faith as well.
There are always times when we fall short.
But what about comeback time?
Non-judgmental people never forget about people’s potential to redeem themselves and do better next time.
8) Reflecting on the past
Non-judgmental people think about their own past and how many times they were easy to judge.
In fact, they think of people who did judge them and how that felt.
They think about how much progress they made in life because of people giving them a chance and believing in them even when these helpful people maybe shouldn’t have or would have been getting advised by others not to.
But look how it turned out.
Pretty well. Or at least much better than it could have!
Then they bring this empathy to bear with those whose paths they cross.
Why be yet another person who judges?
Life is so much more fulfilling and meaningful when we refrain from judgment.
9) Thinking of the future
Non-judgmental folks also think a lot about the future and practice the habit of keeping the big picture in mind.
Do we want a future of more judgment and condemnation or a future of empowerment, support and strength?
The latter certainly sounds much better.
Even if there are behaviors and beliefs they find very objectionable, the non-judgmental person doesn’t focus on this.
Instead of focusing on what they don’t like in the people, places and events around them, they invariably find aspects of people, places and events they do like.
Then non-judgmental people work to build up, support and promote what they find great instead of spending their time tearing down what they find upsetting or wrong.
10) Memento mori
Memento mori means to reflect on the reality of death.
That may sound a little heavy here, but it’s actually a very positive and liberating practice.
By remembering that everyone you come across will die and you will too, you begin to give birth to a real feeling of compassion.
You won’t suddenly love everybody or find all their behavior acceptable.
But you’ll stop judging as much.
Realizing that we really are all in the same boat is a transformational experience that non-judgmental people turn back to.
When you’re tempted to look down on somebody or react with anger against them, think back on the fact that they’re not so different than you.
When is it time to judge?
The question remains: when should you judge?
How non-judgmental is too non-judgmental?
There is definitely a line, and the line is this:
When somebody is being harmed by the actions of another person it is high time to judge the person harming them and prevent what is going on.
Abuse, manipulation and violence call for judgment, because if we refuse to make a judgment about anything as wrong this is the same as writing a blank check for it to continue.
But in other areas that are not our business it’s fine to sometimes admit that we do not have a right or an interest in judging.