How to be Less negative and less judgmental
Have you ever looked at someone you maybe didn’t even know and a mean, judgmental thought about them ran through your head?
Do you notice yourself being grumpy or negative for no good reason?
Are you critical of others?
Being negative and judgmental is a problem of more people than you think.
If it includes you, here is why you should consider doing something about it:
Being negative and judgmental stinks.
It makes people not want to be around you. If you think you are keeping your negative thoughts to yourself, then keep a closer eye on it. It seeps into your conversations and behaviour and people can smell it. Guaranteed.
Being negative and judgmental stings.
It stings YOU the most, but not only. It ruins your mood, it makes you miserable, and it keeps you in a grey world where most things suck. In reality, they don’t suck, but that’s how you see it. More importantly, you’ve probably burst a few happy bubbles of people around you. Sometimes it’s a passing comment you made that you forgot five seconds later but others will remember it for a long time because it hurt them.
Being miserable and judgmental is keeping you stuck.
It’s preventing you from making progress because the general assumptions tend to be along the lines of; it won’t work out, who am I to succeed, others are out there to get me, I’ll fail anyway.
I wonder if any of that sound familiar?
But if you work on it, it will have a profound effect, on you, your mood, your life and people in it.
Being more positive will attract valuable people into your life.
Not grumps (negative people like negativity, not positivity), but people who see the possibilities in the world and good in people. It’s good to have people like these around you. It creates more positivity.
Being positive will allow you to take action.
It will help you try new things, plant new opportunities out of which new growth will sprout. You’ll enjoy the process and mistakes will turn into lessons rather than failures.
Being positive will make you much happier.
And that’s what it’s all about, right?
But if positivity is clearly so much better, why are we negative?
Here is what you need to know.
We all have tendencies to be negative in a form of pessimism, fear, cautiousness, or being judgmental. It’s an integral part of our evolutionary adaptation because it’s a great survival strategy and is present in all animals in some shape or form.
Assuming that things will go wrong keep us away from unnecessary risks, danger and being lighthearted which could lead to stress, pain, or even cost us life, especially hundreds or thousands of years ago.
Being negative (assuming the worse) is definitely useful when you are walking home at night and have the option to take a shortcut through a dark alley, or thinking of telling your boss what you really think of him, because it helps you assume “No, that’s not a smart thing to do as the long-term repercussions could hugely outweigh the short-term benefits.” So it has its use.
However, there are many situations where this “automatic negative assumption” kicks in totally unnecessarily.
“I cannot get a better job than this.”
“If I try x, it probably won’t work out anyway.”
Where we go wrong is that we typically don’t do our due diligence on these assumptions which can be as simple as asking yourself:
How do I know that?
What’s actually happening here?
What are the facts?
When you ask yourself that, very often you’ll come to the conclusion that you totally fabricated your negative “story” about the person or situation.
About judging others
There are good people out there, but there are bad people out there, too.
When you know for sure that someone is bad and you have evidence of that (try to make your own opinion where possible, remember that people tend to be negative), then distancing yourself from these people is the best thing you can do.
The truth is, you don’t really know the majority of the people around you.
Until you get to know them, don’t make assumptions about their character. Give them the benefit of the doubt. People dress, look, act, talk, walk in all kinds of ways. Sometimes they just don’t know any better, other times they have a good reason for it. If you knew the reason, you’d understand. You might not agree, but you’d understand.
Have you ever misjudged someone?
Think of the moments when you watched XFactor or some other talent show and someone funny looking showed up on the stage, typically welcomed by a giggler in the audience. Then, as soon as they started performing your jaw just stopped. We all have done that.
Here is a story I’ve heard once:
A man got on a train and sat down. Opposite him sat a man with a small boy. The boy was talking and laughing very loudly, running up and down the train, talking to other passengers. The first man was watching it, frowning. He thought; “What a bad father. He doesn’t care his child is disturbing everyone with his bad manners. He’s just sitting there watching it blankly. What a bad father.”
The situation was going on for a little longer. Then the first man lost his temper and told the father. “Excuse me, can you control your child? How could you not care that he’s running up and down the train?”
The father looked at him and said “I’m sorry sir. We’re on the way to the hospital and he’s looking forward to seeing his mother. He doesn’t know she’s passed a few hours ago and I don’t have the hear to tell him here.”
The moral of the story?: Don’t judge people before you truly know them and their situation because everyone has a story and sometimes truth might surprise you. How many people do you think you’ve misjudged?
How to be less judgmental and more positive about others.
If you do make judgmental assumptions about people here are ‘x’ way that will help you change it.
1) See the good in others.
As soon as you catch yourself judging someone, stop!
Ask yourself, what positive can I find about them?
Example: Rather than judging someone for their outfit, tattoos, piercings (for example), ask yourself;
I wonder what story is behind it.
Or even think;
Wow, I admire them for having the courage to go ahead with it.
It can really help you turn your perception around and become curious rather than judgmental. It’s a great exchange.
2) Look inwards
As soon as you catch yourself judging someone, ask yourself;
Why am I judging this?
Where does this come from?
What previous experiences do I have that make me feel negative about this?
It’s a great way to introspect and understand yourself a bit better.
Sometimes you’ll find out that it’s actually your parents talking.
(Self-exploration is an invaluable activity and everyone should take every opportunity to do that. I’ve written more about it in an article called Knowing yourself is a cornerstone to happiness and success.)
3) Look for compassion
Next time you judge someone, look at them and think for a moment about what they may have been through, what their life is like, what challenges they may have. Be real, everyone has
4) Find out for yourself
If you’re bold, next time you judge someone, go and find out whether you’re right or wrong. Have a chat with that person. Find out who they are, what they are up to, what their story is. Most often than not you’ll be amazed.
Do you think it’s weird?
Let me ask you this; aren’t you tired of all the superficial small talks?
So many of my clients (and I believe it’s a reflection of the world out there) yearn propper, deeper conversation. They want someone to be genuinely interested in them, to get to know them, to share who they are and have a “deep and meaningful” for a change.
As a coach, part of my job is to get to understand the people in front of me. When you get to know someone and their story, you will understand why they are the way they are. I’m often so amazed by what people have been through, what they accomplished, how they see the world and themselves.
5) Be less judgmental and more kind to yourself.
Because how you do anything is how you do everything. The less judgmental you’ll be to yourself, the less judgmental you’ll be to others. We assume that others act and think the way we do. So judgmental people are often paranoid or even paralysed by what others think of them. You’d be disappointed if you only knew how little they do think of you.
Think more kindly about yourself and you’ll think more kindly about others.
6) Give and help
There is no better way to develop more compassion than by helping others who need it. It may be just as small as helping someone with a suitcase up the stairs in the underground (I do this every time I have an opportunity), you can volunteer in charitable projects or even start one. There are endless opportunities to contribute. Some people even travel to third world countries to teach or help build houses and schools. My youngest client who is 16-year-old went to India for a few weeks to teach kids how to compose music on a computer. Now he’s starting Indian society and organising TEDx in his college. Where is a will, there is a way.
Feeling good about yourself will make you feel good about others.
How to be more positive about life.
Being negative about life goes hand in hand with being negative about others. It’s a theme. How you do anything is how you do everything. So work on all these areas simultaneously.
One of the most mindblowing and most important realisations I’ve had in my life was that (as I call it) the reality is subjective. The fact that I have a choice of how I interpret and see situations in my life.
The reality is that any situation is neither negative or positive. It’s purely on us how we see it. Every situation has a wide spectrum of interpretations from positive to negative.
Negative people tend to focus on the negative side of the spectrum and so this is what they find because it’s there. It’s called the negativity bias.
Positive people tend to focus on why what happened is positive and so this is what they find because it’s there. It’s called the positivity effect.
When I did my workshop on being positive, some challenged me saying that being positive is fooling yourself into seeing just the good side of things. I said; Sure, that’s true. Just as being negative is fooling yourself into seeing just what’s bad about things. Now, I have a choice. And if I can choose, I will rather be happy than miserable. Don’t you?
The right balance is to see the positives but not neglecting the risks.
Since I started consciously choosing to see the bright side of things my life just became so much better and happier. Isn’t that a better way of living?
To be more positive start working on these areas;
1) Focus on the positives
Every time you catch yourself being negative or complaining about something, stop and ask yourself;
What’s positive about this?
What am I learning or gaining from this situation?
How will this help me in the future?
Could it be worse?
I cannot tell you how profound impact this has had on my life. It will help you turn failures and misfortunes into learnings.
2) Put it in a bigger picture
We tend to get annoyed over small things every now and then. You missed a train, someone in front of you bought the last doughnut, or you spilt your coffee. Put it in a bigger perspective. What does this mean in the scope of life? Not much. So next time you get annoyed, ask yourself;
Does this really matter?
Is this worth me being miserable?
Will this matter in a few hours or days?
If the answer is no, then just shrug it off.
3) Spend more time with positive people
Being positive is a skill and a habit. Being around people who are cheerful and happy will rub off on you. Don’t be a grump around them or they will not want you around.
Watch how they think and what they focus on. You’ll see that they have a positive mental attitude and focus on the positive side of the spectrum. You’ll also notice that they don’t make a big deal out of small things. The more time you spend around them the more normal being positive will feel.
4) Feed your mind with positive stuff
The news and tv series will pull your mind towards negativity because it’s built on drama, fear, and tension. I don’t watch any of that because it would suck me in (we all are drawn to it) and mess with my mind.
Youtube is full of positive and inspirational videos, iTunes is full of inspiring and positive podcasts, and libraries are full of inspiring and positive books.
Feed your mind with what you want it to think about. I love watching stand up comedy, TED talks, and documentaries. It’s all so inspiring and uplifting.
Be more mindful and intentional about what you feed your mind with.
You would not put poison into your body, so don’t put it into your mind either.
Ok, this has been a log article, but it was an important topic.
I hope all these tips gave you something to think about and I promise you when you apply them your world will be much better and you’ll be much happier.
If you need a support of a life coach, you’re always welcome to contact me and let’s find out if we’d be the right match.
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