What judging others also says about yourself

August 2, 2018 Providence Health Team

We’ve all done it – passed judgment on someone for something they said, did or wore. “She shouldn’t wear that – that’s too much skin.” “I can’t believe he said that to her.” But what does judging someone say about yourself? Is it always about the other person or does judging someone else also say something about what we’d really like to do, say, or wear?

Sarah Sapora, self-love and wellness advocate, discusses this very topic in the video below and offers suggestions to not judge others and how to love ourselves more.

Next we spoke with Dr. Clayton Chau, MD, PhD, Regional Executive Medical Director for mental health and wellness for Providence St. Joseph Health. Here is what he had to say on the topics of judgment, our perceptions of others, and our self-perceptions:

What Sarah says here is exactly right, and it is an important thing for us to understand and to be mindful of in our own lives. We will all find ourselves standing in judgement of others, even in spite of our best efforts to the contrary, from time to time. But when we try, as Sarah does here, to interrogate that feeling, to figure out where it’s coming from, we can begin to reshape the way we perceive others and in doing so reshape the way we perceive ourselves. This is how we reach a place of greater understanding and compassion, both for ourselves and others.

The impulse to judge other people is a complex one, and often has as much to do with how we feel about ourselves as it does with how we feel about the subject of our judgement. There is more than one reason that we may feel this instinct:

  1. We may judge others because we don’t know them well, and so we turn to suspicion in our ignorance.
  2. We may judge others with whom we struggle to identify, either because of their belief system, their moral and cultural values, a behavior that is foreign or distasteful to us, or any combination of the three.
  3. We may judge others that we perceive to be potential threats to our own future opportunities.
  4. Last, but not least, we often judge others that somehow threaten the way we perceive ourselves—someone that, for one reason or another, agitates our own insecurities, and then becomes a projection of those insecurities. This is the idea Sarah spoke about earlier.

In every one of the above situations, if we can resist that judgmental impulse, we will also find opportunities to learn and grow. As Sarah said, these situations can also be opportunities to advance our own understanding of ourselves, to love ourselves better, and to begin working toward self-improvement. When we choose to defy the impulse to judge, and approach instead with compassion, these moments also become opportunities to expand our social networks, and to learn about the beauty of other perspectives and cultures.

This idea above is a simple one, though that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily an easy thing to do every time. It requires attentiveness and care on our parts. We have to be mindful of the thoughts that seem to pop into our heads, and ask ourselves, “Where did that come from?” There are a few strategies we can pursue to this end. First, we can train ourselves to be watchful of our thinking. We can actively work to depersonalize negative interactions, and to reframe negative thoughts. We can acknowledge that all humans are more alike than unalike, and we can educate ourselves on why people behave the way they do, including ourselves. We can decide to always give people the benefit of the doubt by searching for the goodness in others rather than the bad. Most importantly, we can be diligent in our efforts to love ourselves and to believe in humanity.


Sarah Sapora is a paid partner with Providence St. Joseph Health who frequently participates in conversations on important health topics. Providence is pleased to share the stories of great people who have overcome health conditions. As part of our population health program, we want to share insights and stories that help bring awareness to common health conditions. Not all of the people featured in our stories are Providence patients.


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