How many of us have been the target of some form of judgment? Perhaps the more potent question is how many of us have been the perpetrators of judgment? The answer to both of these, for all human beings, is a resounding yes. We have all been at both ends of this double-edged sword.

Why is judgment harmful for both the victim and culprit? Because judgment always comes from a place of insecurity.

Consider that whenever one person judges another, it’s because something about the person being judged has triggered an insecurity in the one casting the judgment. Something comes up for the aggressor that makes him or her uncomfortable and that person’s inability to be with their insecurity becomes a projection onto someone else.

So what triggers insecurity? Two things. Jealousy or guilt.

When we feel jealous of another human being, it means that person has some quality, trait or way of life that we feel inadequate about in our own lives. Without hesitation or awareness, our insecurity turns, instantaneously, into a judgment about the person who has what we don’t. That judgment may be about the specific area(s) where we feel we’re lacking or it may show up as something else entirely. But, the source of the judgment is always our own insecurity.

When it comes to guilt, we are just as uncomfortable sitting with this emotion. It’s much easier to point out someone else’s flaws or poor behavior than to be accountable for our own. And, again, our deflection can often be towards someone exhibiting the very behavior we experience shame over ourselves. Or, we may judge someone we presume would never act in such a way. We see them as being “better,” “more in control,” “more easy going” or having some form of superiority that makes us feel insecure, so we find something else wrong with them to bring them down to our level, at least in our minds. Once more, the judgment occurs almost automatically, as a way to protect us from the experience of failure in our own behavior or inaction.

Judgment isn’t just harmful to the ones we judge. It’s actually much more disempowering to the one dishing out the judgment. When we criticize others, we are spreading insecurity, but we are also emboldening our own. Being critical and judgmental actually inhibits us from being able to self reflect, identify our insecurities and overcome them. Yet, the biggest cost of all is that judgment alienates people and robs us of our affinity to others.

The way to live a truly empowered life is to operate above judgment. If you’re being judged by others, simply be mindful that their criticism is merely a projection of their own insecurities. More importantly, be mindful of when, how and why you judge others. Get present to the underlying insecurities of your own that are being triggered by others. Once you identify those areas for yourself, you can begin the path to overcoming them.

“The secret to happiness is allowing all people and circumstance to be as they are and not as you think they should be.”

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