A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

Are You a Judgmental Person? 11 Ways to Stop Being So Judgy

Replace those criticisms with compassion and open-mindedness.

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Turn the negative into positive

Find another side of every fault you find with people on the street. Instead of scrunching your nose at a teenager’s over-the-top outfit, admire that person’s confidence in being able to pull it off. Rather than hating the loud guffaw of the man a table over, tell yourself how sweet it is that he’s having so much fun with his friends.

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Say 10 positive things a day

Train your mind to be more compassionate by actively looking for the good in other people and yourself. Set a goal of finding 10 compliments a day, and you’ll find yourself less inclined to hunt for the bad in those around you. Try these other daily habits of optimistic people.

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Consider how you’d like others to see you

While aiming for a good reputation seems backward for someone hoping to end judgment, it can be a great motivator. Do you want to be remembered as the type of person who always blows off those you look down on? Setting yourself up to look compassionate will make you more aware of how you’re coming off to both the person you’re judging and everyone else around.

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Make a game of giving benefit of the doubt

In most cases, you don’t really have any idea what’s behind other people’s actions. When you feel yourself looking down at their decisions, make a game out of finding an explanation for them. Maybe the guy who cut you off is rushing to pick up his kids because his boss wouldn’t let him leave on time. Perhaps that toddler is screaming because of a bad night’s sleep, not because of bad parenting. Even if these explanations sound unreasonable, it’s a good reminder of times you’ve been in a pickle yourself. Check out these signs that you’re empathetic.

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Eliminate insecurity

Often, people look for criticisms for others to help them feel less insecure. Take note of when this seems to be the case, and reframe your judgments as jealousy. Now take a moment to be thankful for what you have without comparing yourself to that person. Start with these tricks to ending negative self talk.

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Cut the gossip

It might be hard to avoid gossip completely, but make an effort to change the conversation when your friends start sounding judgmental. Try bringing up another perspective, or sneak some of that person’s good qualities into the discussion. If you can’t help but get caught up in the negativity of your usual social group, find a more positive friend who you can spend time with too.

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Fault the action, not the person

Everyone makes mistakes, so make a point of framing it as a bad action, not a sign of bad character. That person likely feels guilty or insecure about his or her actions already, and certainly has other good qualities that balance any faults. Try one of these exercises to increase your empathy.

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Imagine saying your thoughts out loud

One easy way to put yourself in another person’s shoes? Picture the reaction if you were to share your criticisms. Consider how that person might defend his or her actions. You’ll learn to reframe things from another perspective without ever opening your mouth. Check out these science-backed facts about forgiveness.

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Remember your own weird habits

Keep in mind that you have plenty of qualities that other people might judge unfairly. Who cares how ugly your sweatpants are if they comfort you on a crummy day? If Nickelback makes you happy, who’s to say you should delete those albums? Give others the same consideration that you’d give yourself.

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Practice mindfulness

As you feel a negative thought enter your brain, accept it as that—just a thought, not a signal of right and wrong. Briefly ask yourself why that negative feeling appeared, then redirect your mind to think about something else. Detaching yourself from your thoughts will keep you from getting caught up in criticizing others. Start with these easy steps to being more mindful.

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Set a goal of compassion

Like breaking any bad habit, attaching your efforts to a goal can help you get results. Create a picture of how you want to interact with the people you’d normally judge. Imagine yourself acting with love and understanding, rather than impatience or disdain.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest

Marissa Laliberte
Marissa Laliberte-Simonian is a London-based associate editor with the global promotions team at WebMD’s Medscape.com and was previously a staff writer for Reader's Digest. Her work has also appeared in Business Insider, Parents magazine, CreakyJoints, and the Baltimore Sun. You can find her on Instagram @marissasimonian.