We all start out life as wide-eyed innocents.
As children, we learn to walk, talk, and play. Life for most kids can be pretty great, free as it usually is from the stresses and pressures of adult life.
But when we grow older, those pressures can get to us. Social strain can get us down. Work may lead to dissatisfaction and stress.
And, of course, there are also all the negative things we can encounter in life. Violence, hate, conflict, war, abuse, addiction… the list can go on and on.
Some people are able to glide through life regardless, while others get bogged down by all these elements.
What kind of person are you – happy-go-lucky or dark and jaded?
If you worry you may be the latter, here are eight warning signs you’re becoming a negative and judgmental person.
They might help you re-assess things in your life and make changes that can turn things around.
1) You’re constantly feeling disappointed in others.
If you’re worried that you’re becoming a judgmental and negative person, one of the biggest signs is that you find yourself disappointed in other people again and again.
You think they could do more or do better.
You’re surprised by their poor choices and ineffective actions.
In this whole article, I’ll be bringing up a friend of mine quite a lot. Let’s call him Negative Nate since he’s terribly negative, and Nathan doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Negative Nate is always complaining about other people, though I’m sure I’ve never heard anyone volunteer to listen.
He holds everyone up to high moral standards and seems to enjoy nothing more than to point out when they fall short.
It seems like no one can ever be good enough, but he also seems like he’s smug about it.
It’s as if this constant failure of others is helping to reinforce his views that life and people are generally bad.
2) Your outlook is pessimistic.
“That won’t help.”
“Nothing could make it any worse.”
“Expect to be disappointed.”
This might be mistaken for a list of the last things you’d want to hear before going in for surgery. Instead, though, it’s actually a list of some of Negative Nate’s favorite catchphrases.
If you’re anything like him, you see the world through grey-tinted glasses.
You see the glass as half-empty and on its way to being fully empty. You expect the worst and often find your predictions come true.
But if they do, that’s normally because you like to focus on negative situations in the first place.
If you’re this kind of pessimist, it’s a clear sign that you’re a negative and judgmental person already.
3) You don’t trust (a lot of) other people.
You might not really trust anyone, or if you do, it’s probably a really small circle.
How is trust related to being judgmental and negative?
If you’re constantly disappointed in others, you expect them to fail at both tasks and moral challenges, so that would make you wary of trusting them.
If you’re generally negative, you might expect that just about every person you meet is out to get you, steal your money, and do you harm.
Is that a realistic way to see the world?
There are certainly people out there who are dangerous and willing to hurt you. Others will do it by mistake.
But there are lots of people who are totally indifferent and too busy to do anything to wrong you.
And then there are people who actually try to do their best to be good to others.
What are the proportions of these four groups?
I have no idea, but it’s definitely not 100% in any one direction. This means that there are people you can trust, and it’s probably a lot more than you think.
4) Your thinking is very black and white.
This idea that everyone is bad or untrustworthy is a prime example of black-and-white or absolutist thinking.
You know what I mean: friend or foe, good or bad.
George W. Bush famously reduced the complex world of geopolitics in 2001 to this polarized phrase:
“Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.”
But what about all the shades of grey in between?
I don’t mean the movies. I mean the subtleties and intricacies of actions, intentions, and life itself.
When you’re reducing things to black and white, you fail to see that there are more options available. You become judgmental, and then it’s easy to become disappointed and negative.
5) You have fewer friends.
This is one of the biggest signs that Nate is negative and judgmental.
While he used to be more social and involved in a lot of activities with others, these days, he’s usually found on his own.
He used to play in bands but now only plays solo. He used to be in a running club and a chess club, but he doesn’t do either anymore.
Because he’s very judgmental, and people don’t like being judged.
And, of course, he’s so negative that he’s just not much fun to be around.
If you’re worried that you’re becoming this kind of person, one big clue is that you have fewer and fewer people around you.
Time is precious, and people learn to only give theirs to others who make them feel good and happy. Only a sadist wants to spend time with someone who constantly judges them and gives them a bad score.
6) People aren’t open around you.
Even if you haven’t driven your friends away yet with your negativity, they may already be feeling its effects.
One symptom of becoming judgmental is that people will stop opening up to you.
That’s because they’ve heard you judge others before, and possibly themselves, too, and that’s not what they’re looking for.
When people open up to others, they’re looking to share how they think and feel in a safe environment.
They’re usually looking for understanding and maybe advice. Sometimes, all they need is to be heard.
But they’re almost never looking for judgment, not unless they expressly ask something like, “What do you think?” or “Did I do the wrong thing?”
Sometimes, though, fairness and honesty can be mistaken for judgment, so you might be wrongfully labeled a judger.
But it doesn’t go the other way – no one is going to mistake a truly judgmental and negative person with someone who’s fair.
7) Your sense of humor is cynical and sarcastic.
Don’t get me wrong – I love a dark sense of humor.
But if all of your humor is sarcastic and cynical, it gets to be too much, and it probably means you’re really becoming a negative person.
Negative Nate is totally like this.
He never has any light jokes or fun stories to tell. His are always about how someone messed up, ruined something, or otherwise failed.
Yes, some fails are hilarious, but if that’s the only thing that can make you laugh, essentially the misfortune of others, then your outlook is definitely more negative than it needs to be.
8) You’re not excited about the future.
When I was in the sixth grade, we did a project where our teacher asked us to draw our vision of the world 20 years in the future.
I’ll be dating myself if I reveal the year, but needless to say, this year has come and gone already!
I, like all my classmates, drew a fantastical mishmash of flying cars, jetpacks, floating houses, and robots all over my paper. I’m not great at drawing, but it was still obviously bright, shiny, and positive.
I was excited and enamored by all the possibilities that would come and, of course, the prospect of many I couldn’t have imagined.
Do I still feel that way now?
Well, I’m a little worried about how much we’re polluting the planet, but yes, I still get excited thinking about what the future will hold.
But Nate’s not.
Every time I see him, he’s got more depressing news and terrible tragedies to relate. On top of that negativity, he always seems to see a pattern of downhill slide.
Talk about cryptocurrencies, and he’ll tell you the world is headed for an evil totalitarian government.
Chat about technology, and he’ll bring up how AI development is out of control and poised to destroy humanity as we know it.
What a little ray of sunshine.
It doesn’t matter if your predictions are sometimes right. What matters is that they’re consistently negative.
The dark side of being negative and judgmental
If these eight warning signs you’re becoming a negative and judgmental person ring any bells, you might want to make some changes.
Aside from driving your friends away and making others act closed-off around you, your negativity can also do you real damage.
It’s linked with depression, anxiety, and chronic worry – all of these conditions can also be damaging to your physical health and should be avoided if at all possible.