Why Do We Pass Judgment?

Why Do We Pass Judgment?

Last update: 21 October, 2015

When someone judges your path, lend them your shoes. This common phrase is a great reminder. We have all been judged at some point. We’ve all been the subject of an opinion (correct or not) that has upset or hurt us.

How can we respond to being judged?

First of all, take a deep breath and get some distance. Understand that the impulse to pass judgment is universal. It’s something that’s always been done and will always continue to be done.

The second step is simple. Accept that what’s being said has nothing to do with you. “Depersonalize it.” Another’s words or opinions don’t define you. Later, lend your shoes to those people, and let them see the authentic truth.

Usually, the people who pass the most judgment have the lowest self-esteem. When someone doesn’t accept themselves unconditionally, they also can’t accept other people. They are rigid perfectionists and judge people at every chance they get.

What’s behind judgment?

No one likes to be judged. When we are judged, a label is imposed on us, and it makes us feel limited and small.  According to psychologists, we all feel a small tendency to typecast a lot of the people that surround us or put them into categories. Some are immature. Others are lazy. Others are fickle or irresponsible, or as negative as they are insecure.

Even though we all do it, there’s something that we should be clear on: if you don’t want people to judge you, avoid passing judgment on them.



Though many of our judgments may contain some truth, before passing judgment, it’s worthwhile to let yourself go and walk a day in another’s shoes. See how they feel, react, suffer, or how they interact with the world and with us.

Those that tend to excessively judge others often share the following characteristics:

1. Low self-esteem

When a person has low self-esteem, they use judgment to put themselves in a position of control. From this controlling stance, they can defend and protect themselves from everyone else. They’ll call you “insecure” or a “failure,” because, in reality, that’s how they feel. By labeling you they attempt to exert control over you, and establish themselves as the complete opposite.

In other words, people with low self-esteem project onto others their own insecurities and faults. Far from seeing these in themselves, it’s easier for these people to project labels onto others and judge them for it. This is cathartic for them and offers them power.

2. Lack of empathy

Those who take judging others lightly and does so just to hurt them lacks empathy. Furthermore, people who are unable to recognize the complexity of others and understand that people are more than just simple labels, also probably doesn’t understand his or her own needs, voids, faults and virtues.

It’s easier to pass judgment on others than to look within and know yourself with humility, while also offering respect towards others.

3. Emotional wounds

You can react two different ways when you’ve been hurt. The first is to gain emotional knowledge from what happened, behave in a resilient way, and move forward. In turn, you’ll become wiser when it comes time to handle certain situations. This way we end up with more empathetic people that, instead of passing judgment, know how to better care for and understand someone without typecasting them.

On the other hand, we have the type of person that doesn’t handle painful situations well. They hold grudges and resentment. It’s so severe and harmful that it forces them to pass judgment onto others in order to project their own bitterness, sorrow and inner demons.

Instead of facing problematic situations from an open-minded, creative and respectful point of view, they do so as defeatists. Which is a very toxic and harmful way to behave.


Before you pass judgment, you should accept yourself unconditionally. This includes your flaws along with your talents. When you work on accepting yourself, it boosts your self-esteem. That’s when you’ll change the way you interact with yourself and with others.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.