Why Judging You Beats The Hell Out Of Me

06/15/2015 07:01 am ET | Updated Jun 15, 2016


"Oh my God! Don't they have a mirror?"

"What a nasty person they are to live that way!"

"Did you see her photos? What did she do to her face?"

"What a steaming pile of garbage that is!"

"What an idiot! Who do they think they're fooling?"

I can judge you, belittle you and brutalize you with my words and thoughts without even knowing you. And, I actually believe I have every right to do this. My culture, my upbringing, some of my education, the media that incessantly pounds ads and sales pitches at me, and the "let's get all excited" tabloids and gossipy talk shows, all tell me that it's totally okay for me to think, feel and act this way.

Lately I've taken a really close look at what my need to judge is all about. This doesn't mean I don't have opinions and insights about what is valid and good, what is helpful and true for me. Of course I do. I need to examine life as I negotiate my path. I need to choose, understand, seek and decide. But, being judgmental about what you think, do and say doesn't help me in this at all. In fact, it actually gets in my way. Because when I put my attention and emotions into judging you, I get to avoid feeling, thinking and growing within my own life

What is it about judging you that makes me feel so good? It's really pretty simple: I get to feel better about who I am by beating the hell out of who you are. I'm scared and resentful. I'm angry, arrogant and uncomfortable. And I want relief! So I create drama, self-satisfaction and entertainment by stomping all over your humanity and dignity. The interesting thing is, that for the most part, you don't even know I've torn you apart--only I do. I'm the only one involved in this brutal game of one-up-man-ship.

So how does this work? What's really going on when I tear you down?

  • I get to throw my feelings at you instead of feeling them within myself.
When I am judgmental, I get to point my finger at you with a heaving heart and a self-righteous mind. Something about you has triggered something inside me. My own issues are churning and grinding awake in response to your appearance, behavior, words or feelings. It's much easier for me to throw emotional missiles at you than for me to feel what's really going on with me. I've used you as a diversion tactic to not own a hurt or fear that really belongs to me.

  • I get to feel good about myself without doing any real work.
When I judge you, I'm pushing you down to make myself feel taller and bigger. As I assure myself that, "I don't look or behave like that!" I'm instantly stronger, braver and smarter than you are. I get a boost to my self-esteem without doing anything of real value for myself or anyone else. All I've done is torn you apart. This is a sure-fire way for me to not live a self-actualized, self-growing and empowered life.

  • I get to feel secure in my belief systems.
Some of my most instant kickbacks of "That's dumb!" come when I'm faced with new information or behaviors that challenge how I think or what I believe. There's a closed-mindedness to this reaction, as well as a good shot of mental laziness. Judging something you've said to be ridiculous or foolish without examining it, allows me to stay safe in my belief systems. It also keeps my mind small and my world narrow.

  • I get to avoid my fear of being human by seeing you as different.
When I judge you, I push you away with a sanctimonious surety that "I'm not like you!" But the uncomfortable truth is that I am like you. I do have despairs and fears, I do stumble and fall. I can act without caution and make choices that aren't the best. So the scabby person with the falling-down face and the plastic cup in their hand could be me. The slovenly woman puffing on a cigarette in her filth-covered car is surviving the same hurts and regrets, the same hard roads and broken bits of life that ache within me. Pushing you away keeps me neat and tidy. But it also keeps me separate and hard of heart, because I'm not willing to own the power and pain of my humanity.

If I am being judgmental about you -- your looks, your words, your actions or ideas -- it's not about you at all. It's about me. Something in you is scaring me. Something about you is shaking me up. When I want to judge you, it's time for me to look at myself and ask: "What's going on with me that I have to kick someone else to make me feel better?" And then, it's time for me to get self-honest, bravely willing and really gutsy as I look at my answers -- and get to work on me.

Robin Korth enjoys interactions with her readers. Feel free to contact her at or on Facebook.

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