When we talk about judging and criticism, it’s important to take into account that not only can we do it to others, but on many occasions we also do it to ourselves. It may be for our physical appearance or for something that didn’t go as we expected, among many other things.
Sacred Scripture says: “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged. For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get” (Mt 7:1-2).
It is easy to make negative judgments, but Christ asks us not to do so, so that we may be considerate of others and they may see in us a person they can trust.
Matthew Kelly, in his book Rediscover Jesus, says, “Judgment is one of the major obstacles that prevent us from loving others as God commands us to. It is also an obstacle in our quest to love ourselves as God wants us to.”
He also adds that we live in a hyper-opinionated culture, so we become hyper-judgmental. But we have to resist the dominant culture to live according to Christ’s teaching.
Here are five things we can do instead, when we are tempted to be judgmental:
PUT YOURSELF IN THE OTHER PERSON’S PLACE
Jesus teaches us that we will be judged as we judge others. When we feel tempted to be judgmental, we can imagine ourselves in that other person’s place. What if we had the same difficulties and were in the same circumstances as that person? Wouldn’t we want patience and understanding?
PERFORM AN ACT OF KINDNESS
When we are feeling judgmental and are tempted to be critical of someone, we can avoid falling into that mentality by practicing the opposite virtue. That is to say, we can do something positive such as smiling at someone or saying something positive about someone. This will help increase the level of oxytocin, also known as “the love hormone.” It makes us feel good when we have any of a range of positive interactions (including singing together, hugging someone, etc.) and in turn promotes more loving behavior.
Often, we prefer to speak badly about someone instead of approaching them directly in private, and charitably pointing out what we perceive the problem to be, to help them become aware of something they can improve or correct. It can be tricky to do in a non-confrontational way, but it’s better than criticizing them behind their back.
A famous quote attributed to St. Teresa of Calcutta says, “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.” It’s important to look at people with eyes of love instead of looking at them critically.
BEAR THE FAULTS OF OTHERS
Bearing with patience the faults of others is a spiritual work of mercy that promotes the good of others and helps us grow in virtue and be more like Christ.
Remember that God is the only judge of people’s hearts and souls. Yet, he shows himself to us as a loving Father, giving us new beginnings over and over again despite our struggles and shortcomings.