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July 14, 2013


I’ve been writing a lot about behaviors based on how we perceive things in our world. Our subjectivity, the lens with which we view things is the direct cause of our behavior. If we perceive a threat, we act threatened. If we feel joy, we act happy and joyous. It isn’t more complicated than that.

The complicated part has to do with our difficulty in looking honestly at ourselves most of the time. What is ours and what belongs to other people on the inside is not always as clear as we might think or like it to be.

The way we react to other people has to do with our own self-judgments and feelings of inadequacy or strength; not the other person. But it most definitely feels as if it is due to the other person.

Another way of saying this is that other people do not have control over our feelings unless we choose to give them that control. I heard this expression a long time ago: If I want to stop being treated like a doormat, I have to get myself up off the floor!

Most of the time, we are our own worst critics and we judge ourselves much more harshly than other people tend to judge us. So, if a person makes a comment about me and that comment is something that I judge in myself, it is very likely to hurt me. But if I don’t believe that comment about myself, then it most likely won’t bother me at all.

If I consider myself attractive and someone calls me ugly I will probably think there is something wrong with them. But if I had been in a bad auto accident and ended up with scars that marred my face, if someone made a remark about me being ugly, it would hurt me deeply.

What is it about us that makes us judge others, knowing that our judgments are destructive and hurtful?

According to the experts, there are three basic causes for most of our judgments.

1. We experience or witness behavior or qualities from others that we would not accept in ourselves.

When I was in college, I remember having a roommate who used to write her initials on the eggs that she purchased to make sure nobody took them. Since I came from a family that was always quite generous, my judgment went something like this: Wow, is she selfish. I can’t believe she is so stingy and obnoxious. I most definitely would have been embarrassed and upset with myself if I acted this way and I resented her for doing it.

Self-exploration and self-honesty revealed:
This type of judgment might come from my need to care about my belongings and myself more than I usually do and that is why I feel resentful when I see others do it, even if they do it excessively.

I can turn this would-be judgment into an opportunity to be honest with myself and my reaction and value myself and some of my things more by taking better care.

2. We are not willing to acknowledge the undesirable behavior or characteristic in ourselves and when we experience it in other people, we dislike it.

We even have an expression for this…”That’s the pot calling the kettle black.” We have all heard people hypocritically complain about something that they themselves do.

Self-exploration and self-honesty
can help us learn that we indeed share some of the characteristics we dislike in others and this can help us gain more compassion for both, others and ourselves. We can accept our humanity and theirs as well.

3. Jealousy and envy can cause us to resent others and feel the need to find things wrong with them so we judge them unfairly to make ourselves feel better.

If we feel inadequate, we may falsely believe we can avoid our negative feelings about ourselves by finding fault in someone who is more successful than we are.

Self-Exploration and self-honesty
reveal that we have chosen competition versus inspiration. But competition has not proven itself to be as strong of a motivator as inspiration. By seeing the other person’s success as inspiration, as something that can indeed be accomplished, we are more likely to find our own success in the future.

By training ourselves to respond without emotion to the behavior of others, we learn to feel compassion for other people, even if we don’t really like their behavior. It neutralizes our feelings and prevents us from incorrectly personalizing the actions of others.

We can choose to explore ourselves rather than judge others. We will become more self-aware and self-accepting in the process, and begin to walk the path toward more success and greater happiness in our lives.


I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

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