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The Trick to Changing a Judgmental Mindset

We’ve all done it. Whether it was in a low whisper to a friend, a comment on social media, or even just an indulgent line of thought in our own heads–there are very few of us who can say we’re innocent of it.

It’s easy to do, especially behind the anonymity of the internet or far away from the ears of the stranger who will never hear our comments. We justify it by removing the human story from the equation–we look at the headline surrounding a celebrity, or we make an assumption that supports a judgment about someone we see passing us on the street.

Tearing other women down. We’ve all done it.

And it’s so much easier to do than encouraging or complimenting another woman. Or is it? Perhaps it makes us feel better about our own insecurities when we highlight the flaws of another, which also makes it feel easier than the alternative of taking the time and energy to really consider the person who is the object of the judgment.

I wonder what would happen if we collectively spent an equal amount of energy building one another up instead of tearing one another down?

Even if we didn’t make a public display of it–even if the shift was only in our minds–I think the impact would be tremendous. We would become more compassionate people. We might even become more gentle when looking at ourselves.

This isn’t necessarily easy to do, however…especially if we have gotten into the habit of tearing down (or even get a little adrenaline rush from a good online snark-fest). One thing that I’ve always found helpful when I am feeling particularly prone to snark or judgment has been to make up a mental story about the person whom I’m trying to inflict judgment upon. The story doesn’t have to have an ounce of truth–it just has to shift our perspective so that we see the person as a human rather than a two-dimensional object.

For example…

Instead of: Wow. She clearly got a boob job. I wonder how much that cost her! She kind of looks like an airhead anyway. 

Try: Her name is Cindy. She has two kids, ages 6 and 8, and is a breast cancer survivor. Her 8-year-old son just got a big award at school, so she’s feeling kind of distracted because she’s thinking about how she can surprise him by taking him to his favorite restaurant tonight. 

Like I said, the story doesn’t have to have one bit of actual truth…because that isn’t the point. The point is to recognize that there is a story to be told. The point is to create a better sense of collective connection amongst all of us not-so-different-after-all people. The point is to use our mental and physical energy for positive things in this world.

After all–we have a back story, too. And we wouldn’t want others to negate the value of that story by making a snap judgment that tears us down in a matter of seconds.

Your story has value. Her story has value. And recognizing that shared value can make all the difference in how we treat one another…and how we are treated, too.

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