Why are people so judgmental?
Are you asking yourself this question?
These days it seems like everyone is judging you the moment you step outside of the stereotypical box society has made for you.
We don’t admire people that are “different”. We see them as weird and a threat to our “normal way of living”.
When did humans get like this? Or have we always been like this?
In this article, I’m going to go over the top 6 reasons people are so judgmental, and why you shouldn’t care what other people think about you.
First, what does being judgmental really mean?
When someone is judgmental in a negative way, they are labeling and finding fault with another person, a group of people, or an idea.
In essence, judging means we’re looking at others in a black/white way with fixed labels and associations. You can also be judgmental towards yourself.
Judgments by themselves aren’t all bad. As human beings, we need to make judgments in order to make quick decisions and filter the world around us.
But being too judgmental is a problem when you’re painting stereotypes of others with no room to change your mind.
It’s unfair on the people you’re judging, and it’s unfair on yourself because you limit your understanding of others.
Here are 6 reasons people are so judgmental, and then we’ll talk about why you should ignore judgment from others.
1. Humans are desperate for belonging
In essence, humans naturally seek out a tribe to belong to.
Even those you consider “loners” need some sort of a community to be a part of.
There’s obviously nothing wrong with this. We all want to have a group identity. In many cases, this gives us meaning and purpose in our lives.
But it also means that to be a part of a group means you need to be different from people outside of the group.
And seeing as we want to justify our own actions and decisions in life, we look upon other people unfavorably if they’re not part of our group identity.
This leads us to judge others because they’re not like us. They’re acting in a way that goes against the beliefs of what we’re taught to believe in our own group.
And speaking of beliefs…
2. We’re stuck in echo chambers
An echo chamber is an environment where a person only encounters information or opinions that reflect and reinforce their own.
Echo chambers exist everywhere, but they are only getting worse thanks to our hyper-online echo chambers:
As the Goodwill Community Foundation (GCF) notes:
“Echo chambers can happen anywhere information is exchanged, whether it’s online or in real life. But on the Internet, almost anyone can quickly find like-minded people and perspectives via social media and countless news sources.
This has made echo chambers far more numerous and easy to fall into.”
Because most of us only see beliefs that we already know, we never get exposed to other ideas.
So when we do see someone who isn’t part of our echo chamber, we judge them negatively.
We automatically think:
“They must be an idiot if they don’t believe what I believe.”
This is because everything we’ve seen or heard (especially online with algorithmic news feeds that feed us what we’re already into) goes against the group identity or belief that they’re a part of.
3. Black-and-white thinking is easier
“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people judge.” ~ Carl Jung
This quote really sums it up. Judging is easy. It doesn’t require deep thought.
And our society has become focused on easy answers and black-and-white thinking.
We don’t have the inclination to think about something deeply. We’re used to getting quick answers from Google.
We just want to be able to label someone or something as quickly as we can.
For example, we want to think that religion is either “good” or “bad”. We don’t want to consider that there might be some truths to both sides of the equation.
When it comes to people, we want to paint someone as a “narcissist”, or “toxic” because it’s easier for us to understand.
We don’t want to create a whole new label for just one person. It’s inefficient.
We prefer to filter the world through quick labels because we think it helps us better understand other people.
Our minds also want to simplify the processing of information by putting people into categories.
4. We want to apply a hierarchy of better and less than
Human behavior expert Dr. John Demartini refers to a phenomenon called “self-righteous” and “self-wrongeous” to explain why we judge.
This means that judging is simply our way of applying a hierarchy of better and less than, or superior and inferior to.
Through judging, we define worth to everyone we meet. Of course, we have a natural desire to be better and superior – some people perhaps possess this more than others!
But when we look at the world this way, we want to be right or wrong, so we quickly assign worth to other people.
5. Attribution theory
“It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you place the blame.” – Oscar Wilde
Attribution theory explains how the social perceiver uses the information to arrive at the explanation for events.
As humans, we have an innate desire to assign reasons for why people do what they do.
Heider believed that people try to make sense of the world through attributions.
This is why people tend to see cause and effect, even when there is none.
There two main types of attributions that we make about others:
Dispositional attribution: This is where we assign the cause of behavior to an internal personality trait of a person, rather than outside circumstances.
Situational attribution: This is assigning the cause of behavior to some situation event outside of a person’s control.
Funny enough, according to the theory, when we try to explain our own behavior, we tend to make situational attributions, rather than dispositional.
Projection is a basic psychological mechanism in which we externalize our feelings and beliefs about ourselves onto other people around us.
This can be both negative and positive.
The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology says:
“Projection is a symbolic process by which one’s own traits, emotions, dispositions, etc are ascribed to another person. Typically accompanying this projection of one’s own characteristics onto another individual is a denial that one has these feelings or tendencies.”
And Jung said:
“Just as we tend to assume that the world is as we see it, we naively suppose that people are as we imagine them to be… All the contents of our unconscious are constantly being projected into our surroundings, and it is only by recognising certain properties of the objects as projections or images that we are able to distinguish them from the real properties of the objects.”
Furthermore, according to Freud, we tend to project our own unacceptable desires into other people.
While we probably still possess these desires, we believe that they’re not ours anymore. They belong to others.
But understanding that we project onto other people is an excellent way to understand ourselves.
If you can take a step back and analyze what we’re judging about other people, we might learn a thing or two about our own beliefs and thinking patterns.
How to stop fearing judgment from others
We’ve all been through the wringer a time or two in public and have felt like the whole world was watching us fail or make a mistake.
It’s the worst, right?
Once the sting wears off and you get over the embarrassment, you might be wondering how to avoid feeling like that ever again.
And you wouldn’t be alone in that sentiment. That’s because when we feel judged what’s really happening is we’re being outcast from the group.
Humans are pack animals and we need to belong to a group in order to survive.
Everyone knows that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs showcases what we need to thrive and right in the middle of that pyramid is love.
We need to feel love and accept it. It’s what the rest of our happiness is based on.
So when you feel alienated from the group, it can be very difficult to get over.
There are ways to overcome feeling judged and there are some ways to help you get back in the saddle when you’ve fallen flat on your face in front of what seems like everyone on earth.
It’s important to realize that to be liked and accepted all the time is impossible.
As we’ve shown above, humans are judgmental, it’s both parts of how the mind works, and how society is.
But you don’t need to live within the confines of being acceptable to others and society.
Here are some ways that you can stop fearing judgment and start living authentically.
1. Know where you stand and what you bring to the table.
In order to quickly overcome judgment and feelings of being seen for who you really are, you need to know who you really are.
It’s that simple.
Everyone makes mistakes. You have to know that deep in your soul, you are not this mistake.
It won’t define you. It sucks now, sure, but it won’t paint the rest of your life. Unless, you know, you’re in politics.
Otherwise, you can safely bet that although it feels like everyone is watching and snickering behind your back right now, this won’t last.
On your path to discovering who you really are in the world, it will be important that you take time to identify and celebrate what makes you, you.
What makes you different from everyone else on the planet?
It’s hard to tell sometimes, especially because we are often so critical of ourselves in comparison to other people.
But rather than feeling weighed down by your differences, celebrate them and put them front and center in your exploration of yourself.
If you allow yourself to be happy about who you are, you’ll find that you are much happier in all areas of your life.
A practical exercise to find out what your unique characteristics are is to list down 10 traits about yourself that you’re proud of.
This could be your kindness, your loyalty, or the fact that you’re skilled at knitting!
2. Don’t let other people tell you who you are.
Despite the naysayers’ opinions of you, nobody gets to decide who you are and how you live your life.
Rather than hide away from who you are after an epic fail in public, consider that everyone is entitled to their opinions, but you don’t have to agree.
This isn’t about ignorant arrogance; it’s about confidence.
People judge other people when they are trying to hide behind their own faults.
If someone is judging you, you can bet it’s because they have no idea how they would react in that situation or they have been in that situation and they shit the bed even worse than you are.
It would be better if we supported one another during this time, but we don’t usually opt for kindness, do we?
Keep in mind, you get to decide how to respond to what other people think of you.
The best way? Don’t even have an opinion about it.
n order to find your place in life, you need to understand the power you have within you to make change happen and last for a long time.
We all have the courage and opportunity to make a change; we just have to be willing to go after it.
When we tap into our power, we are unstoppable and we can design the lives we really want.
If you want to find out who you really are, tap into the power inside you and use it as often as possible to challenge situations, people, and opportunities.
To dive deeper into how to take responsibility for your life, check out Ideapod’s eBook: Why Taking Responsibility is the Key to Being the Best You.
It’s an extremely practical guide that offers the tools and techniques you need to develop new habits and goals.
I’ve read the book myself and have already changed some of my goals and daily habits as a direct result.
The fact is:
Although many of us may think we take responsibility, it is a skill that has to be learned and developed—even by people who have achieved success.
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