It is natural to judge people, since it just happens without us even thinking about it. We take one look and in 2 seconds summarise our opinion of a whole person – overweight, pretty, stylish, sloppy. This habit comes from the brain’s need to categorise the world in order to be able to function without becoming overwhelmed. Judging is your way of identifying relevant information, you are trying to decide if the person approaching is a threat, a friend or someone you don’t need to worry about. This way of looking at people makes sense in a dangerous context, but in your daily life it can lead to an overly simplistic reading of the people you meet.
If you have ever judged someone dismissively, only to have them become a good friend once you really got to know them, then you will understand the hazards of the judgment cycle. An experience like that may lead you to question your natural tendency to believe your first impressions.
You will always notice things about the different people you meet, but as you become more conscious of the idiosyncrasies of judgement, you won’t be satisfied with your surface observations. You may notice that someone is driving an expensive car, but you will decide whether to befriend them based on getting to know them over time. You will not rule out a friendship with someone with unruly hair, especially if they turn out to have a great sense of humour and a kind heart. Liking or disliking a person is a choice you will naturally make, but it will be after you have got to know them.
Next time you notice yourself judging somebody, stop. Try to radiate love to that person. Then listen to them openly or look them in the eye and learn more about them. If this is not easy for you, remember not to judge yourself either. Trust that, with practice, you will change your habitual judgemental patterns. And as you do, you will find a whole new dimension of perception opening up to you, allowing you to see beyond the surface and into the essence of people you meet.
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