Sunday, December 2, 2012

Go ahead and judge me...

Here is a phrase I hear a lot… “Don’t judge”…

Sometimes it’s in a half joking way “I’ve just fed the kids wheatbix for dinner. Don’t judge me”…

But it’s also out there, doing the rounds on facebook, usually a photo and a quote along the lines of “don’t judge a woman till you’ve walked a mile in her shoes”, often with a thousand ‘likes’. 

Can I make a confession? I judge people all the time. Every day. Why? Because I’m a human being. And human beings judge. Human Beings see things through filters. Human Beings make assumptions.

We are programed to judge. I’m not going to get too scientific here (mostly because I’m just guessing) but I imagine the human instinct to judge derives from our cave dwelling ancestors. Cave women probably made quick judgements to assess risk;  

“That woman is so fat! She must be eating all the food! We’d better keep an eye on her or there will be nothing to feed the children! Ugh!”

The type of judgements we make have probably evolved somewhat since those days, but our natural instinct to judge has not. 

I distinctly remember witnessing a harrarrsed looking mother yelling at her tantrum throwing toddler in the middle of the supermarket. My newborn baby was fast asleep in her pram, I remember gazing down at her peaceful face and smugly thinking ‘Oh you’ll never behave like that will you darling’.

Two years later when I found myself in the same supermarket trying to prise my own toddler off the floor I realised my mistake.

In the same way that you sometimes react to a situation with anger and then later realise that you over reacted, snap judgements are hard to control. Telling people not to judge is like asking a baby not to cry.

So go ahead and feel free to judge as much as you like.   

But… and this is a big but (…rather like my own) when you have drawn your conclusions, take a step back. Consider where your judgements have come from. Ask yourself; are there are any circumstances in which you may do the same thing?

At the end of the day we don’t know the whole story, and while it’s totally normal to judge, it’s not ok to give those judgements a voice. Always remember … ‘If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.’


  1. So true, we do all judge. I think, like you say, the trick is to keep it to yourself, and then consider that we don't know the full story. And that is the beauty of being human, we are quick to judge, but we also have the ability to reason and rationalise.

    So when we see something, someone, and make a snap judgement, we can also then think about all the reasons for the behaviour we are seeing and judging and show some empathy.

    Which is basically what you have said in you post... I could have just written I agree! :)

  2. Love this. We were discussing judgement today...I admit I judge even though I try not to. But like you say, we are all human...

  3. Im a SHOCKER!!!! I was raised in that sort of environment unfortunately BUT Im doing everything I can to be better. When you see your kids doing the same it makes you more accountable for your own actions..... and what you are teaching them!! I stop and count before I comment. It seems to be working, so far! Good honesty Sweetness, well done xxxxxxxxx

  4. If we were all "mindful" about our judgements and assumptions, the world would be a much better place. Thanks for the thought provoking post - its no mean feat to provoke thoughts from me on a Sunday after a glass of vino but you achieved it.

  5. I used to be the most judgemental cow regarding parenting before I had kids. If I saw or heard a child having a tantrum at the shops or anything like that, I'd shake my head in disgust. Then, of course, I actually had children and was cured of all the judgement very quickly.

    I'm still a bit guilty of judging people on what they wear at times, even though I'm not that stylish myself. Go figure.

  6. Lilke you said, to judge is a completely human and we're all guilty of it, even those 'holier than thou ' types who claim that they don't. But just like some of our opinions, our judgements don't really need airing in public all that often...

  7. I totally agree with Naomi. Of course we all judge, it's in our nature. Keeping opinions to yourself is the difference. Nothing worse than an older woman frowning at your child's behavior. Don't they remember?!???

  8. I'm so glad I'm not the only person who has those internal knee-jerk reactions! I catch myself quite often thinking 'now don't be like that, there are any number of reasons why that wasn't stupid/inconsiderate etc... you don't know all the details, don't be so harsh'.

    Mostly it happens when I'm reading the news. HOW did that seem like a good idea? Well what were you doing there anyway? Oh for goodness sake no one's THAT silly! But I know I've done plenty of things that seemed perfectly reasonable (or the only thing I COULD do) at the time and later I thought wow, that must have looked really silly.

  9. I was talking with The Viking about this the other day and, just as you have said, he spoke of judgment and assumptions from a historical perspective. Evolutionarily speaking it is what we're programmed to do.

    I had mentioned that a man I met recently said he couldn't go out with his mate and his baby without everyone assuming they were a gay couple.

    The Viking said people are programmed to assume, judge and make classifications so we can quickly take in information and move on to using our brains for something more useful - like not getting eaten by a sabre tooth tiger. And it's not necessarily a bad thing to make those snap judgments and move on. Like you've said, it's when those judgments are harmful or when you give them a voice, or don't reassess after new information, that it's a problem.

    As I always like to say: Don't judge someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes... Because then you'll be a mile away. And you've got their shoes.

  10. I reckon I am very non-judgemental.. this is because I am FLAT OUT trying to keep my own house in order, and often failing. Actually sometimes I feel it might be better to get a bit more judgy, to actually have some opinions cos I worry that I am becoming completely spineless. Maybe a resolution for 2013?