Okay, let’s be honest. The word “judgmental” doesn’t have a positive connotation for most of us, especially when it is used to describe ourselves or other people. And yet, judging is something that all of us do each and every day, in order to make decisions – whether big or small, while we navigate through our day-to-day lives.
The ultimate question isn’t really whether or not we judge, but rather, how we judge. Are we doing it in ways that inspire positive actions from ourselves and the world around us, or are we making critical judgments that limit us in some way?
One of the most common ways we limit ourselves is through critical interpretation. An interpretation is an opinion that we create about an event, situation, person, or experience based solely on our own understanding. Usually, these opinions grow when others agree with our views, driving us to be even more close-minded.
For example, let’s pretend two friends attended the same meeting. In that meeting, the Executive Vice President (EVP) proclaimed that she will be using a different approach for fiscal planning this coming year. One of the two friends may interpret this change as a clue that the company’s past approach wasn’t working, while the other may see this change as a trial run for a new approach.
Regardless of what was read between the lines, the only real facts we have is that the EVP has asked the company to do something differently. Yet, how much time did these two friends spend analyzing what was behind the situation? How often does this sort of endless mind chatter distract us from taking productive actions?
If you find yourself forming negative opinions that seem to do nothing more than hold you back, then try asking yourself the following mind reframe questions: 1) What’s another way to look at this situation? 2) How would I feel in the other person’s shoes?
Negative opinions are the root to yet another common self-limiting belief, the assumption.
Assumptions carry a lot of weight because we tend to cling to personal experiences as the ultimate truth. Or, in other words, we believe that because something happened in the past, it is bound to happen again. Because we make assumptions based on real life experiences, it’s hard to let go of them. For this reason, assumptions are extremely effective in holding us back from making any attempts to move forward, or try again.
Thoughts like, “Well, I can’t approach my boss with an alternative point-of-view without it going badly,” or “Everytime I stand up to present material in front of a large audience, I clam-up and freeze,” plague the minds of some of my clients, and of some of you, I’m sure.
If you’ve witnessed something first-hand, it can be tough to let that experience go. When you catch yourself making assumptions, ask yourself these questions: 1) Just because that happened in the past, why must it happen again? 2) What new approaches can I take to help it go differently the next time around?
At the end of the day, the most productive judgments we make are based on choices from reasonable beliefs that also stimulate our growth and potential. If there are a myriad of interpretations and assumptions that we can make, for any given situation, then why not choose the ones that enable us to move forward?
Nina Cashman is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.