Why Do We Judge Others?

Mike Robbins
4 min readFeb 15, 2024


How often do you judge others?

Most of us can be quite judgmental, whether or not we admit it. I’ve been aware of my own judgmental tendency for much of my life. While it does seem to ebb and flow based on my own level of confidence, inner peace, and fulfillment, I’ve noticed that it can be both pervasive and problematic for me in many areas of my life.

There can actually be some gifts and growth wrapped up in our judgments, if we’re willing to do the internal work necessary, take responsibility, and own our projections. Being judgmental can cause a great deal of pain, stress, and conflict in our lives and relationships, but if we’re conscious about it, we can actually use our judgments as access to deeper connections with others and personal transformation within ourselves.

It’s crucial to distinguish between making value judgments and being judgmental. Value judgments reflect our discernment based on our values and priorities. We constantly make value judgments in our daily lives, deciding what to eat, where to go, who to engage with, and how to spend our time. Embracing change and diversity while making value judgments is vital for our well-being, personal growth, empowerment, and overall vitality.

Being judgmental, on the other hand, has to do with us thinking that our opinions and values are “right” and judging others as “bad” or “wrong.” This may sound like semantics, but it’s not — it is a whole different paradigm. Being judgmental has to do with us arrogantly thinking that we’re better than others. The question is not whether judging people is good or bad, the deeper issue is that when we judge others we hurt them and ourselves in the process.

Why Do We Judge Others?

We judge others as a natural cognitive process, influenced by social norms, personal experiences, and psychological biases. It often stems from a need to assess threats, establish social hierarchies, or reinforce our own beliefs and values. Judgment can serve as a shortcut for understanding and navigating complex social environments.

Here are some of the common and specific reasons that often lead us down the path of judgmentalness.


We compete with others and want to win (or at least not let them win). When we don’t win (or we feel inferior or envious), we tend to judge them, make them wrong, or try to find fault in them. In other words, we try to bring them down to our level so we can feel better about ourselves.


We project our “stuff” onto other people. As the late, great author Debbie Ford said, “Whatever you can’t own, owns you.” In other words, we have a hard time with aspects and qualities in other people that we have not accepted within ourselves. For example, if we have not accepted our own arrogance, we will notice lots of arrogant people around us and have a very hard time with them (and with the quality of arrogance in general).

Life is a mirror

Similar to projection, everything we see, experience, and notice about other people (and life) is a mirror back to us — the light and the dark. We erroneously think it’s about “them” and miss the gift of awareness it is for us. We will always bump up against stuff in others and in life that we need to deal with in ourselves — but it’s often much easier to judge than it is to deal.

Judging People Can Be a Gift

Judging people can be a gift when it prompts self-reflection and growth. Constructive judgment can highlight areas for improvement, inspire empathy, and foster deeper understanding of ourselves and others. It serves as a tool for personal development and building healthier relationships, ultimately leading to greater self-awareness and fulfillment.

Here are some of the gifts that can come from our judgments of others…

Self Awareness

Our judgments offer valuable insights, revealing areas in ourselves where we can nurture love, acceptance, and reconciliation. They illuminate opportunities for personal growth, expansion, and release, paving the way for forgiveness and authentic confidence.

Expanded Compassion

When we’re being judgmental, it can remind us about the importance of compassion — for ourselves and others. The things we judge in others (which are always things we judge in ourselves consciously or unconsciously) are simply things we don’t have much compassion for. We can use our judgments as opportunities to expand our capacity for compassion, one of the most powerful emotions we can express and experience in life.


Dealing with our judgments in a vulnerable, honest, and responsible way can actually bring us closer to the people in our lives and create deeper intimacy.

When we confront our judgments and other aspects of our shadow, we free ourselves from barriers to intimacy, vulnerability, and closeness with others. This demands courage and dedication, yet engaging authentically at this level can profoundly transform our relationships for the better.

There’s nothing wrong with us for being judgmental, it’s a normal aspect of being human. And, while judgments can and do cause a great deal of difficulty and pain in our lives and relationships, especially if we stay unconscious about them, as we wake up and take responsibility for them, we can use our own judgmental tendency to actually create the kind of life and the kinds of relationships we truly want. There are deep gifts in our judgments, if we’re willing to do the work necessary and confront them and ourselves with ruthless compassion and vulnerable truth.

Whom do you judge? What’s underneath your judgment? What are some of the gifts of this? Share your thoughts, action ideas, insights, and more below.



Mike Robbins

Mike Robbins is the author of five books including his latest, We’re All in This Together, which released April 2020. He’s an expert in teamwork and leadership.