Negative Mind ≠ Positive Life
“Why do you look at the splinter in your brother's eye but fail to notice the plank in your own?” - Matthew 7:3
Have you ever criticised someone for making a mistake, then gone on to make the very same one yourself?
I unknowingly drove the wrong way in a parking lot. I received glares and comments as four cars travelling in the opposite direction manoeuvred to allow me to fit.
The thing is, in the past, it’s been me in one of those cars judging another harshly for being ignorant and not paying attention.
Isn’t it hypocritical that we give ourselves a pass when making a mistake and doing wrong by someone else yet fly off the handle when done to us?
The car park was my bad. Here’s something different:
I’ve watched numerous stories revolving around the U.S. Presidential election and found myself shaking my head, directing criticism (to the TV screen) when someone makes a statement I don’t agree with.
What makes my opinion right over theirs, and who am I to judge?
As a viewer, you have zero comprehension of the reasoning behind their loyalty to a party.
Let’s take the candidates out of the equation and compare two citizens - a Military Officer and a Social Worker. Is it fair to say each would have different stances and motivations for who they favour?
So when you’re watching TV (like me) making these judgements, you’re doing so based on your own values and circumstances.
But what is really achieved by making these judgements?
No one is perfect, we all know that. So why then do we continue to judge others harshly?
Because we don’t truly embrace and accept the person we see in the mirror.
In our pursuit of constant improvement, we’re overly critical to the extent of beating ourselves up because we expect more or better.
When you’re judgemental of another, you’re briefly overlooking your shortcomings, inflating your ego by seeing yourself better than them, often with no basis other than their actions or appearance.
You’re looking past your much bigger plank to scrutinise their splinter, isolating yourself further instead of moving closer to being a person of wholeness - who connects easily with others; accepting and acknowledging that they, like you, have strengths and weaknesses and make mistakes too.
Tendencies of being overly judgemental:
- You’re a perfectionist or frequently critical of yourself
- You expect consistency from others
- You focus on other’s shortcomings or traits
- You see things in black or white (they’re a good or bad person)
- You’re quick to jump to conclusions
- You find difficulty in trusting others
- You often offer unsolicited advice
- You have a negative outlook or low self-worth
Breaking the Pattern
You have a choice. As Exploring Your Mind says,
“Everybody chooses what they want to see and don’t want to see in other people...If they appreciate the good things about themselves, they’ll also see the good in others, and same with the bad.”
Start by accepting that you’re not perfect.
Always strive to be a better version of yourself, but don’t nitpick every aspect of your performance. You will have off days and make mistakes. You have strengths and weaknesses. If you’re a perfectionist, consider Matthew’s guide to stop being your own worst enemy.
Recognise your triggers and reasons.
Is it a certain mood, around certain people or environments? Judgements are often knee-jerk reactions - find what sets you off. Are your judgements based on your values or beliefs? Are you being close-minded?
Aim to reframe.
Just as you can reframe negative thoughts, reframe judgements to see people in a positive light. This might sound stupid and will require effort, but if you really want to make a change for the better, it’s important to recognise the world doesn’t revolve around the way you think.
So if we re-visit watching news on the Presidential election, I can reframe my thoughts to be, “it’s good to see they’re passionate and patriotic. I’m sure they have their reasons for thinking that way.”
Practice meditation and mindfulness.
Get out of your head. Not only does meditation help to reduce stress, anxiety and depression, but it trains you to let go of thoughts more easily and focus on being present (mindfulness).
Being judgemental harms the most important person in your life - yourself.
There’s wisdom in the words of Naval in this clip.
If you desire a more positive outlook on life, better relationships, a greater sense of well-being and happiness, it all starts from one place.