If you don’t judge others, you’ll stop judging yourself

If we stop judging others we can love ourselves more

It’s easy to get into the pattern of judging other people. “His clothes are so cheap”, “Her hygiene is terrible”, “I would never be caught dead in that!”, and so on. Judgement is a perfectly natural and human thing. Sometimes, it’s important. It’s important that we can judge other people quickly so that we know if a situation is dangerous or if someone seems dodgy. If we couldn’t quickly tell whether somebody might be mentally unhinged or aggressive or trying to con us out of our money, we wouldn’t be able to go on living our lives safely. But, sometimes our judgement antennae our overly sensitive, we stop judging people because they might be dangerous or might be wanting to swindle us, and start judging them for other, more superficial reasons.

Whenever we look at somebody else’s clothes and judge them for it, it builds up in our minds an expectation that other people are likely to be judging us. If I know that I judge other people, it would only be natural to think that other people are probably doing the same. My mother told me something that I’ve always found very powerful: a friend of hers would constantly be judging other people, always commenting on their clothes or their new partner or their music taste. My mother revealed to me that at the heart of this judgement was a deep-seated insecurity. My mother’s friend was also judging herself incredibly harshly, and it was making her unhappier.

This type of judgement can lead to a vicious, and unhelpful circle. We judge others, assume we are being judged, focus on our own perceived inadequacies, and then continue to judge others more harshly as a reaction against the judgement we assume we must be receiving. If we can break that circle and be conscious of when we are judging other people, we can stop feeling judged and become more confident and improve our own self-esteem. I wrote an article on this site about how fostering self-compassion is so important for our mental wellbeing.

Try this: next time you see somebody you would normally judge, practice compassion and empathy and pick out something that you really like about them. Maybe they have a nice smile, or beautiful eyes, or are radiating some other quality you wish that you had. Often, when we judge other people, it’s because there’s something about them that we secretly envy. Try and pick this out, and try and foster a sense of feeling happy for them because their good features. Perhaps, if you’re feeling brave, compliment them on what a lovely smile they have, or whatever feature of theirs you have chosen as particularly good.

Simply by standing back from our judgements of other people and picking out their good qualities, we will start to feel better about ourselves. Those of us who are liable to judge others on their negative features will also find it easy to pick out our own negative features, those of us who focus on the positive qualities of others will be better placed to be aware of our own good qualities. Thus, simply by thinking highly of others, we can think more highly of ourselves.

Five simple acts of compassion you can perform daily

Having compassion can make you happier

Having compassion for others and doing selfless things for other people is great for a few reasons. Firstly, other people will appreciate your empathy and it could help someone going through a hard time who really needs that help. Secondly, it will make you feel better to be compassionate and empathetic towards others. There is loads of evidence that being a compassionate person makes us happier and more fulfilled. So here are five simple acts of compassion that aren’t very difficult, and you can do almost every single day.

1) Give money to a homeless person

There has become a common sentiment in the past few years that giving money to homeless people does more harm than good: they’re likely to spend it on drugs or alcohol, you could do more good by volunteering, you could be giving that money to charity, etc. I reject this for two reasons: firstly, most homeless people are struggling to get by and money will help them onto their feet. Secondly, donating money to charity via a standing order divorces that money from its context of human suffering. Giving money to somebody face-to-face is a great way to re-engage the part of your brain responsible for empathy and gives you more of a dopamine boost, as well as making you more likely to carry out acts of compassion in future.

2) Pay someone a genuine compliment

Paying people compliments is great: it makes you feel good, it makes them feel good. It makes people like you more, and it makes people more likely to pay you compliments, which in turn will make you confident and improve your self-esteem. It’s the opposite of a vicious circle, it’s a virtuous circle.

3) Take a close friend or a family member out for a meal

Eating with family and friends is one of the few things that scientists are pretty much in universal agreement on: it makes us happier. Studies have shown that eating with people we care about gives us a huge dopamine boost and makes us feel better connected with the people we love. So, why not treat a friend or a family member to a meal at a restaurant you love? It doesn’t have to be expensive, you could go somewhere that does great “homemade” food for a reasonable price. And who knows, maybe next week (or next month) you’ll get treated to a meal out. This lets your loved one know that you care about them and love spending time with them.

4) Help someone who needs your help

I’ve written on here before about how much it meant to one of my friends when his car broke down and he was helped by a stranger. If you see someone who obviously needs your help, even with something that seems like it would inconvenience you slightly, I highly recommend that you do it. Helping other people feels good, and who knows how much they need that help? Helping other people also fosters a sense of community, and there’s often a ‘pass-it-on’ effect wherein the person you helped will be more likely to help someone else or be compassionate in some other way.

5) Smile at a stranger

Okay, okay. This is hardly some ground-breaking act of compassion. It isn’t spending hours helping in a soup kitchen, and it doesn’t involve donating vast amounts of money. But that’s a good thing – it’s easier and more likely you’ll be able to do it often. I remember when I was in a car and we allowed a young man to cross the road instead of driving straight past – he gave me the biggest, cheesiest grin, and I remembered it for a while and every time I thought of it I felt great that we’d let him cross first instead of simply driving on. Smiling at people can improve their mood, and smiling is said to be able to improve your mood too!

How small acts of compassion can make a huge difference

A few years ago, a friend of mine, Henry, had his car break down. This is a fairly common occurrence, but because Henry had a job interview that day, it seemed especially infuriating. For about five minutes, Henry felt as though the whole world was against him. Why, oh why, did his car have to break down as he was going to a job interview for a job he really, really wanted? This was where a stranger’s compassion came into play.

Well, as it happened, another man was driving on the same road as Henry was. And this man also happened to have the skills and resources to help fix Henry’s car. What possible things could have happened here? The man could have thought that Henry wasn’t worth helping. After all, what did he have to gain from using his time and resources to help a total stranger? The man could have thought that he didn’t have enough time to help. He could have taken the view that helping somebody else for no immediate gain is pointless. He could have driven straight past, and gone on to whatever it was he was planning to do.

Plenty of things could have prevented that man from helping Henry. Instead, he did decide to help. He got out of his car, and spent fifteen minutes of his own time making sure Henry’s car was totally able to get Henry to his job interview.

Henry attended the interview. He got the job. He’s eternally grateful to that man. He often lets me know how much regret he feels that he never took that man’s name down. That man’s small act of compassion has made a huge, huge difference to Henry’s life. It wasn’t just a matter of getting Henry to his job on time, or making sure Henry wasn’t late for meeting a friend, it got Henry his dream job.

It could, in theory, have been even more important. Henry’s mother could have been in the hospital, and this could have been his last chance to see her before she passed. This is an extreme example, but it illustrates the point of just how powerful small acts of compassion can be.

When I have a chance to help someone who needs me, even if it seems like a mild need, I think back to Henry’s experience. It helps me understand just how important and life-changing seemingly small acts of compassion can be. And so, whenever I see someone who evidently needs some help from me, even if providing that help will be a mild inconvenience to me, I try and give them the help they need. I don’t claim that I always help anyone, but I try to string together as many small acts of compassion and generosity as I can. Because these small acts can add up to make huge changes to the lives of others and can improve your own life enormously.