The Judging Circle

‘Don’t judge’. It’s a judgement in itself. And it makes us feel like we have done something wrong. For what? Having a reaction? Thinking? Feeling? Being Human? I’ve been thinking a lot on this topic lately, following an incident where I felt like I was being smacked on the hand for airing my wounds. My somewhat muddled musings turned into clear thought over many cups of tea while I nursed the sting of others’ judgement and did a bit of judging myself.  Past the emotion, in the calm of clarity I realised, we can’t erase the judging. What we can do is filter the way we externalise our judgements – there’s no need to hurt anybody with them. We can also qualify our judgements – just because we think something doesn’t make it true.  Perhaps these applications may make the judging seem a little less evil because really it is a perfectly natural and inevitable part of life.

Let’s be honest. We all judge. Anyone who claims to be above the act of judging is a big fat fraud. See. I have already judged those people by calling them big fat frauds (within the privacy of my own blog).  It’s natural and healthy to make judgements in all facets of our lives. We are just programmed that way.  Whether it’s judging the outfit of the woman across the street:

 ‘Oh I really like her hat. I might get a similar one.’ 


‘Gosh her pants are really awful. I’d never wear them.’

To deciding if we like a certain cake:

“Mmmm this chocolate cake is delicious. I can taste strange crunchy bits”.


“ Eeeeewwww I don’t like the strange  crunchy bits in this chocolate cake. I’m not going to eat it. I’ll order something else.”

We make judgements when we use our senses and to help us make decisions. Without judgements we wouldn’t have the benefit of common sense. We judge when the world is safe for us to take action: to cross the road, drink a cup of hot tea, tell a friend bad news or keep our mouth shut and tell a lie by omission (we’ve all done it if we are truly honest!).

When we use the word ‘judge’, the verb, rather than ‘judgement’, the noun, all of a sudden it seems a bit harsher, crueler and altogether not very nice. Perhaps this is because the verb ‘judge’ brings you and me into the equation (as subjects). If we think about ‘judgement’ as a noun, it can be lingering in outer space, seemingly disconnected to us (convenient for our conscience). In truth the only difference is a matter of perspective. In addition to our misconceptions, we have a tendency to correlate ‘judging’ with putting other people down.  For example.

‘He’s so over the top he will never fit in to our circle.’

‘She is so unhealthy she is setting a bad example for her child.’

‘Those children are so spoiled I would never let my children behave that way.’

These are all thoughts/judgements that you (or someone) may have had. It is just that they are negative and are about someone else. I see three points to raise regarding this.

1)      We are all entitled to our thoughts.

2)      Perhaps there’s no need to spread them. Are they helpful?

3)       If you are going to share your judgements, perhaps it may be an idea to qualify them first. Are they true?

To look at this a bit more closely….

Judge judge judge away. It’s natural to think and feel things. It’s like a reflex.  If you tried to stop, it would feel like you were tying yourself in knots.  Our own internal stream of consciousness is ours alone and we can have whatever we like in there. It’s just for us…. No need to sensor your insides. Perhaps the external is a different story. In my opinion there is no need to make anyone feel less than they already do by placing our judgements on them.  We already beat ourselves up enough – with our own self judgements, perceived judgements from our peers, the media and the world at large. We really don’t need direct judgements from anybody else do we? I know I don’t.   Judgements certainly don’t help to lighten our already heavy loads.   So if you think that Louise really shouldn’t eat those extra 10 chips off Carry’s plate because she is meant to be on a diet… think it… but keep it to yourself. She’s thinking it herself. With her own working brain. If you think Harry and Mads shouldn’t be applying for a mortgage while she is only temping because they might not be able to make their repayments and it’s not a smart move. No need to say anything. They know what they are getting into as a couple. As a friend we are not there to take on the role of life coaches and therapists. And who would want one of those at their side every day while they ate, drank, and poured their heart out to their besties? We make appointments to see those kind of professionals and compartmentalise a tiny part of our life for them. To help us with our multitude of judgments.  As friends our purpose is to listen and support without imposing our own ideals (nicer word for judgements) that we will always constantly think and feel no matter what.

Sometimes we can’t help but externalise our judgements.  When judgements are unwanted (which is quite often), qualifying them before expressing them, can ensure their accuracy and help reduce repercussions. This simply means testing a statement’s truth or reality. Qualifying is a method used in psychiatric hospitals by mental health patients who have hallucinations. They are taught to qualify or test to see if these visions could possibly be based in reality. We similarly can use these techniques to see if our judgements are true rather than jumping to conclusions from one snap thought that then comes hurtling out our mouth, or through our fingers on Facebook to hurt someone important to us.  Does it seem a bit extreme using methods a mental health patient would use? Not really. We all have a little bit of crazy in us.  Why not give it a bit of love?

In fact Judgements can be channeled towards love. We can use our judgements to help others. To give advice, help make decisions and complete acts of kindness. We need to asses and judge in order to do all these things.  If we think about it from a holistic viewpoint, it is not the act of judging that is a negative thing. Judging is natural, normal and inevitable. It is the way we choose to judge that can become a problem. If we take a moment to notice our judgements before we so candidly throw them out into the atmosphere, perhaps they would be better processed and received. The judging circle that we all seem to spin in might begin to unfurl or at least seem a little more of a rational whirl.

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