READING TIME: 5 Mins.
What’s criticizing and judging exactly and is there a difference? I’m going to address these questions and talk about my experience of trying to stop doing both. I do it a lot less now, however, I’m not going to say I’ve got it mastered. But I will share how I got from where I was to where I am now, which is (nearly) judging and criticizing free.
When I Tried To Stop...
As soon as I tried to stop I did it more. Criticizing and judging that is. I actually thought that I didn’t do it that much but the reality was I did. My aim was to not judge and criticize anything or anyone.
I wrote an article recently about my version of minimalism in which I explain about my project called TOTT. TOTT is Taking Out The Trash. Taking out the trash from all areas of my life, physically and mentally. Totally removing any judging or criticizing was part of my TOTT project. The trash in this scenario being judgments and criticisms.
I remember being on the metro on my way to work and thoughts about other people’s clothes, hairstyles, or the way they looked kept popping up in my mind. When I say thoughts, I mean judging and criticizing thoughts.
Practicing mindfulness made me fully aware of how much I did it. The thing is though, becoming aware of doing it was only the beginning. I wondered at that time whether there was a difference between judging and criticizing or if they are one and the same?
Is There A Difference Between Judging And Criticizing?
Critisize – to express disapproval of someone or something.
Judge – to form, give, or have as an opinion, or to decide about something or someone, expecially after thinking carefully.
THE CAMBRIDGE DICTIONARY
I suppose then they are the same in that they both mean giving an opinion. However, criticizing is seen as mainly a negative view whereas judging could be negative or positive.
That would be my interpretation. The aim for me was to remove all judgments and criticisms. To not have an opinion either way – to remain neutral about other people and other things. Therefore, the subtle difference between the two was not important to me in my objective.
Why Did I Decide To Do This?
Have you ever had that uncomfortable feeling inside after you’ve judged or criticized someone? It just doesn’t feel good. The same goes for when you get mixed up in a conversation that is pure gossip.
Something about doing these things leaves a bad taste in your mouth. For me, the reason I felt like that is that deep down I know that (1) I have probably done the very thing I am judging, (2) if I haven’t done it I have probably thought about doing it and (3) if it is neither of those two things then what has other people’s life got to do with me?
Other people’s life, looks, decisions, or behavior are none of my business – what’s it got to do with me? Nothing.
No-one likes to be judged, criticized, or gossiped about. It is not beneficial for me or anyone else.
Judging And Criticizing Is Everywhere!
Think about it, judging and criticizing are rife in the world – TV shows, movies, advertising, marketing, the internet, and the news. It is in your face 24/7 and I haven’t even mentioned friends, family, and work colleagues.
Now, I do realize the irony here – talking about these things could come across as criticizing or judging them, right? It also begs the question, is it ever okay to judge? I’ll get to that in a moment.
But first, I want to point out that if you decide to work on taking out the (trash) judgments and criticisms from your thinking, be prepared. It may shock you. You may not realize how much you do it. That was my experience.
But know that it’s okay – be kind to yourself. Remember, it permeates society and culture. It’s difficult to get away from which is why it is important to have a strong mind.
The fact that you want to become more aware and stop doing it is most beneficial for you and everyone.
How Did I Do It?
Mindfulness and the 5-second rule:
1. First, you need to focus on your thoughts as they happen and not be on auto-pilot., Then you can become aware of when you are judging or criticizing. Start a mindfulness practice to do this.
2. As soon as you catch yourself doing it, let it go. Stop the thought. Think of something else. Anything else (as long as it is not judging). The more you do it, the faster you can do it.
3. Work towards stopping the judgmental thought train within 5 seconds. Take a neutral view and not judge either way.
Reading the above, it looks like an easy thing to do. In practice, it is not the case. Some may say it is impossible to do.
I say, it is not impossible and it gets easier and easier the more you do it. But you have to commit to it and discipline your mind.
Neutrality Is Key
When you start to remove judgmental thoughts you free up your mind. Staying neutral about things is key when removing thoughts about judging other people (and things).
Getting rid of this trash from your mind will mean you can think of important things. For instance, the dream job you want and how you’re going to get it. The new skills you want to learn. The steps you need to take to move to a new house, city, or country.
Basically, you create space to think about what you really want in life instead of wasting time judging others.
Is It Ever Okay To Judge?
In my opinion, yes as long as you are judging for yourself. E.g judging what clothes you want to wear or how you have your hair styled etc.
I'm Not That Nice!
While writing this I decided that I would write a separate piece about neutrality. I mentioned it briefly but I think it deserves a dedicated post. Especially as I can see that people have very different views, some think it is bad and some good. That made me smile – the duality about neutrality. More on that later.
You may have noticed that I haven’t shared specific judgemental thoughts that I had. I like to share experiences and things I’ve experimented with to change my life but my thoughts are my thoughts. I’ll keep them to myself.
But I’ll share this little nugget, becoming aware of judging thoughts I realize that I’m not that nice! LOL. 😝
And that’s okay. I’d rather be neutral than nice.
How about you?
The name of The Game is Experience so let us experience Connecting and Sharing.
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