Are We Really Advocating The Right Advise When We Tell People Not To Judge?

“Do not judge people. You do not know their story.”

“When you judge another you do not define them, you define yourself.”

I’m sure we’ve all seen these kind of cliché quotes about the act of judging all over the internet and we have come to believe that it is in fact the right thing to do and reasonably so because we’ve seen and felt how hurt it is to be judged by other people. So now we tell people,

“DO NOT JUDGE! IT IS BAD TO JUDGE! IF YOU JUDGE, YOU’RE A BAD PERSON!”

But, let me ask you this, of the millions times you told yourself not to judge someone, how many times were you actually successful? What I’m really questioning is, can we actually really stop ourselves from forming a judgement of someone/something? Well, I don’t think we can. Forming judgement is of one our many genetically hard-wired behaviors, it is our species’ natural survival instinct. Judging is what kept our ancestors alive. Judging is how we make sense of our environment, judging is how we protect ourselves from danger, from being taken advantage of, from getting hurt. It is instant, it happens before you know it and it means that your brain and body is functioning as its supposed to.

Don’t you think its unfair that the act of judging in an unsafe situation (eg: you’re in a dark alley and you see a person walking close behind you) where you judged the person as someone dangerous and might harm you is totally acceptable but it is completely unacceptable when our brain does it in a normal daily setting when we see, hear and/or talk to other people? We’re both in a setting where we do not know the truth about the other person and in both settings our brain collected information from our five senses and naturally forms a judgement but one is acceptable and the other is not. Double standard much? Well, I’m not saying that we should also apply this ‘Do not judge’ rule when we’re in a dangerous situation, no that’s not my point. I’m also not saying that to be fair lets take our judgements we form of other people in our daily settings seriously, nope not saying that too. What I’m trying to say is that we should stop saying, ‘Do not judge’ and just own up to it. Yes, we judge its our natural instinct, it happens. Maybe we should stop denying it and stop trying to control our brain to not judge all the time. Stop feeling bad or guilty every time you judge someone, you’re supposed to its how you’re built.

Because here’s what I really think. To judge is not wrong, but to get attached to that first judgement you formed of someone or something and to let that very judgement affect your succeeding words, thoughts and actions of that someone or something is where it becomes wrong because your judgement is not absolute and that’s what we often times forget about. It is solely based on your experiences and how you’ve seen the world and how you’ve navigated life and how you’ve set up your standards of right/wrong, good/bad. A judgement only serves as a hypothesis, it has not been proven and unlike the science experiments in our schools/universities we’re not supposed to tweak our results and findings to fit the hypothesis we made! It’s more like an iterative process, as you go along you reach new findings, new information and your brain updates that judgement every time you do so.

And in order to do this, I believe one must be very self-aware to recognize the judgement he/she has formed and to remember to take a step back from that and realize that it is indeed only a hypothesis. Because as much as we’re bounded by our instincts to judge, we’re also capable of the gift that sets us apart from all other organisms, complex reasoning and introspection.

A Great (over)Thinker.