“Thinking is difficult, that’s why most people make a judgment.”

There are always individuals who are going to expound their opinions about our character. They might have pleasant or unpleasant things to say to us, which tend to affect us in several different ways. Someone passing a judgment can say something positive like ‘You’re a really rad-working person!’ or something as unpleasant as “There is no one lazier than you!” These are simple statements that people may make towards us in different situations. However, we need to consider whether these are concrete evaluations that are based on sound reasoning, or merely fleeting thoughts that arise when people encounter us.

The answer to this dilemma lies usually in the evaluation we make, or the belief that we have, about the words the person says, and the intention behind them. Let’s take an example from the workplace. Imagine that you’re working as a Data Analyst, and you’re meant to code and analyze a large dataset that your client has given you. The client is a major name, and your superiors are banking on you to do it. The stress and expectations for perfection lead you to muddle up some of the analytical process, leading to slightly skewed results.

Image: Mimi and Eunice

This event leads to a lot of ‘judgments’ from your colleagues, who drop hints at you not being competent with the project. ‘You really muddled this one up!’ or ‘You need to be more careful!’ are probably statements that are flung at you in this scenario, for at least a few days. However, it’s up to you to perceive it in a way that either harms your self-esteem, or helps you do a better job the next time.

Think about the words being said to you. When we encounter statements like these being made towards us, we often catastrophize the scenario. The criticism about not performing on one project may be generalized n order to develop the thought that one is absolutely incompetent at their role in the company as a whole. “I’m really no good!” or “I’m such a failure at my job!” are probably things you might think upon hearing the statements that people could make.  This probably leads to a very worried mind, and a feeling of self-consciousness, as well as doubt about one’s abilities. Evaluating what has been said carefully is necessary to avoid this bothersome feeling upon being ‘judged’.

Image: S. Adams

Being told that they haven’t performed well on something pertains to that particular task, in this case. It doesn’t spill over to talk about our competence in a certain capacity. When we understand that these judgments are mainly based on fleeting thoughts that people have about a certain event where we have been involved, it becomes clear that everyone is going to have a different opinion about the situation itself. It’s up to us how to take these ‘judgments’. We can either take them at face value, or deeply analyze them , triggering a response involving a whole lot of self-deprecation.

It’s pretty clear that judgments bother us because we tend to evaluate the words said to us in a more ‘expanded’ sense, to talk of our character or inherent faults. However, what we need to understand is that these judgments only come as a result of how certain situations pan out, rather than an accurate evaluation of our character.