How to Know If You Are Judging Someone


Most of us are familiar with the embarrassing, ego-deflating sting of being judged by someone else. We easily recognize the moment when we look down and say to ourselves, “Wait? I’m not OK?” Being on the other side of a judgmental interaction — being the judge — can be harder to recognize. And yet, spiritually, judging others is more detrimental to ourselves than being judged. According to the mystics, the way and the extent to which we judge others is the way and extent to which our Creator judges us. In order to live in harmony — spiritual harmony as well as interpersonal harmony — it’s necessary for us to refine the way that we judge others.

Some Judgment Is Necessary; Not All

Discernment is one of the many intellectual capabilities that humans have been blessed with. As they say, “When a man with money meets a man with experience, the man with experience ends up with the money, and the man with the money ends up with experience.” We need to use our experience and knowledge to protect ourselves and our families. Judgment is necessary for survival…in the form of discernment. We were given the gift of free choice, including the choice to be compassionate or to judge others (and ourselves) harshly.

Which Judgment to Avoid

What’s the difference between discernment and judgment? Discernment is helpful; judgment is harmful. You’ll know if you are judging someone — rather than exercising discernment — by how you feel. Do you feel resentful? If you feel resentful, then you’re judging someone. Discernment is objective clarity, as in “this is not for me”; judgment is personalizing it, as in “something must be wrong with you.”

An Example to Illustrate the Difference Between Discernment and Judgment

Let’s look at a common, every day activity: Shopping at the grocery store. The aisles are crowded. Another shopper is blocking your way. As you impatiently look at your phone counting every second that you think you’re wasting, this is the monologue that you might hear in your head:

Discernment: “Let me find a way to get past this shopper. I’m going to say my most polite, ‘Excuse me.’ This store sure is crowded! I guess we all needed to come here at the same time.”

Judgment: “She is so selfish blocking the way. She thinks she’s the only shopper in this store.”

Big difference, right? How do you feel when you read those two different internal monologues? With the first monologue, demonstrating discernment, there’s no resentment. You’re aware that there is a problem (you’re in a rush and another shopper is in your way), but there’s no resentment associated with it. With the second monologue, you are looking at another person in a negative light, blaming her for being in your way.

Exercise: Recall a time when you got annoyed at a stranger and try to remember your internal monologue. Now renarrate it in a way of discernment, rather than judgment. Record your answer in MyMLC.

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Go deeper into this subject: Would You Like to Judge Yourself?, The Gift, Why We Bless Each Other With A Good & Sweet Year, Love Is Not Judgment

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7 years ago

I like these short, informative articles. Thank you. When I get to the exercise, I am disappointed.

I am sure you want people to stay in the zone and not close the site (and their mind), so that is possibly why you ask people to remember an example in the past.

I don’t think recall is good enough to change one’s thinking. Memory is already colored and inaccurate. The thoughts, emotions and action of the moment have become clouded and rearranged.

I wonder if you could consider making the assignments more in the present and not in the past (i.e. “recall a time”). An example would be: During your day today. notice a time when you become annoyed at a stranger. Describe your internal monologue. Now renarrate it in a way of discernment, rather than judgment. Try the new narrative in your next annoying situation.

You might fear the person won’t come back and place their answer, and they’ll have forgotten the lesson altogether. Perhaps an email could be prompted to arrive for the user to respond to. Also, increase the intrigue in the article (Perhaps tell how the person’s life will change for the better, etc.).

Yishar koach for these. We all need to realize and regroup before we get uncomfortable with ourselves.


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