It is often hard not to judge people. They do strange and stupid things. When people do strange and stupid things, the easiest assumption in the world to make is that they are strange and/or stupid.
The ability to critique people and situations can be helpful in some contexts — unfortunately, this power is used for evil more often than not. It seems that a person’s first instinct is to put someone else down, especially in a society where jokes at the expense of others dominate traditional media and social media.
Being immediately critical of others, finding their flaws and exposing them, is a defense mechanism at its core. Because you feel uncomfortable in your own skin, the natural remedy is to level the playing field. However, this is doing more harm than good.
Being too critical is detrimental to your relationships and even your mental health. Criticizing others pushes them away, thus severing the connections human beings crave.
Of course, there is a reason humans are born with the ability to discern right from wrong and smart from stupid. It keeps us alive. However, it should not be the source of your self-confidence — and certainly not your first instinct.
Luckily, there are some things you can do to be less critical of others:
1. Put your thoughts on paper
Taking negative thoughts or worries out of your brain is imperative — the brain is where harmful and critical thoughts fester and grow. Emptying them out helps you process your emotions and clarify your thoughts.
Seeing words on paper encourages the mind to take an objective look at life and observe the positive and negative aspects of every situation. Since the human brain naturally fixates on the negative, it is important to make sure you can actually see and read all of the good things that happen to you.
Being able to see exactly how much went right in a given day as opposed to letting the positivity get pushed to the back of your mind can help those positive feelings flow, and writing out your thoughts will help you on your journey to being less critical.
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Speaking of the hustle and bustle of everyday life, most people would agree that even a few minutes to themselves would work wonders for their mood. Spending just two minutes a day meditating will help you learn to focus your mind on friendly and constructive thoughts.
Embracing the quiet and the stillness will provide a serenity that is very seldom achieved in an average work day. Try sitting alone with your thoughts— they probably won’t be always be friendly, but you can learn what triggers negative or critical thoughts and determine how to counter them.
Being less critical involves a peace of mind that cannot be achieved in a hectic environment. So spend some time alone and quiet to find some balance.
3. Practice being mindful, too
While saying “be mindful” sounds like an oversimplification, you’d be amazed how easy it is to get sucked into daily routines and frustrations. It’s very difficult to break those patterns, and it’s even easier to begin a repetitive cycle of cynicism.
Being mindful means you are making a constant effort to see the good in the world. Yes, there’s a lot of bad stuff happening around you, but when you stop and consider all of the good things, you’re going to feel happier.
4. Perform acts of kindness
Studies have shown that almost any acts of kindness boost happiness and can have a massive impact on your life. Pausing to do something thoughtful for another person is quite powerful — it forces you to shift your perspective and think of someone else rather than yourself.
The joy you’ll feel when you can make another person’s day better will have a ripple effect on you, no matter what else is happening in your life. The best part is that a casual observer of your kind act can also reap the benefits of this positivity.
It’s easy to forget that the mom with four kids in front of you at the grocery store is a human being, just like you. So instead of standing there, frustrated that it’s taking her forever to get her mountain of diapers and cereal out the door, offer to help carry some of her items or push her cart.
Show others the same kindness you would like to be shown, and you’ll begin to also view people in a less cynical way.
Think everything through
Always remember to be aware of every situation and observe them without judgment — examine all aspects of your life’s events before rushing to a rash conclusion, and you’ll find that there is a silver lining to everything.
You must train your mind to relax, even if you don’t have time during the day to adequately meditate. There are a myriad of ways to do this, and even taking some relaxing breaths will help ease daily stress while you’re on the go.
Center your thoughts and calm your mind. Pretty soon, you’ll find yourself being less critical.