When you stop judging yourself, you stop judging others.
How often do you catch yourself in a tirade of self-judgment? Even on a good day, small judgments such as “I should have done this or that,” slip in. For a variety reasons, it’s quite common for people to criticize and correct themselves on a daily basis, even in minor ways. But these continual invalidations weigh us down over time, and if not kept in check can lead to judging others.
There are three simple steps you can do to stop judging yourself and others. They are the three A’s: awareness, acceptance and action. Implementing them may not seem easy at first, but with practice you’ll create new habits that replace old life patterns.
How to Stop Judging Yourself
Become aware of your thoughts. It’s hard to stop doing something if you don’t know you’re doing it. Bring mindfulness to your thoughts as you go through the day. This will help you to catch yourself when you start to beat yourself up, compare yourself to others, or chastise yourself for not doing things differently. From this place of awareness you can choose to think new thoughts and treat yourself in a healthier way.
Accept yourself as you are. As soon as you notice the inner critic has taken over, stop and take a deep breath. Then repeat to yourself, “I accept myself as I am,” several times. Breathe into the words and feel the energy of acceptance. It doesn’t mean you like what you’re doing (for example, if you are treating another poorly); it simply means you accept what you are doing in this moment and love yourself regardless. Bring acceptance to all of your thoughts and actions as a way to neutralize them and move in a healthier direction.
Take a new action. To create a new habit, you need to take a new action over and over again until it becomes a default. Once you are aware of your self-judgments and have touched into the feeling of acceptance, shift your thoughts in a new direction. Focus on the positive aspects of yourself or the situation you’re in. Remind yourself that you are a human being who makes mistakes as a way to learn and grow. Let go of comparison and enjoy being unique. Move out of your head where judgment festers and move into your heart – feel a sense of warmth and love for yourself. Do whatever it takes to move into a place of validation and self-acceptance.
How to Stop Judging Others
Be aware of your thoughts and motives. Notice how often you judge and criticize others and then take it a step deeper by looking at your motive. When we judge another it’s usually because we see something in ourselves that we don’t like or because we are jealous or envious of something. For example, I used to judge a relative as being controlling until I realized I also had a tendency to over control. Once I owned this, I could focus on relaxing within myself and stop judging her. Another example is with a friend who I judged as being rigid and self-absorbed because our visits had to be on her schedule. What I discovered upon inner reflection was that I was over flexible and envied her ability to set clear boundaries and put herself first.
Accept others as they are. We can’t change other people so it becomes self-destructive to attempt to do this through judgment, criticism or control. Let people have their flaws, make their mistakes and do life their way. There are no rules about how to live except the ones we’ve been conditioned with in our society. If you want to experience freedom you have to give it to others. Remember this as it will help you to let go of judgment.
Take action from your heart. When we think or behave in a judgmental way towards others (through criticism, withdrawal, and rejection) we have closed our hearts. As soon as you start to judge another, in your mind or out loud, move out of your head and into your heart. Feel the love within you and then look at the person or their actions again. I guarantee you will see them differently.
Play with the three A’s – awareness, acceptance and action – as a way to be more loving and kind to yourself and others.
What additional suggestions do you have for how to stop judging yourself and others? Please add to the list by sharing in the comment section.