Posted by: Deborah Drezon Carroll | February 3, 2011

Is Being Judgmental Making You Sick? Yikes!


Everyone in our family is pretty positive overall. That’s good news, apparently, because according to the column I just read, positive people live longer and get sick less often. (The column went into some graphic detail about how they injected people with a cold virus and then measured their mucus production by gathering and weighing the tissues they used. In case you were wondering, positive people produce less mucus and were sick for a shorter duration. I think we’re in that low mucus group, thankfully. If nothing else, we save on buying tissues.)

Got me to thinking, though. What makes you positive or negative? And, what can you do to shift the balance to P from N? Turns out, much of it is determined by the things you say and the way you say them. For example, the column said, if you are critical or judgmental, you send out negative vibes and get those in return. If you meet people for the first time and they hear you judging others harshly, they get a negative vibe from you and that, in turn, sends negativity your way.

My girls and I may be guilty here. Does that make us less positive? We do, sometimes for sport, judge others harshly. We keep it quiet and among ourselves, though, so we don’t actually hurt anyone’s feelings. I’ve always thought that examining how others lived their lives and talking about it helped us to figure out how we could do better. When a friend’s kid exhibits a selfish behavior, for example, I’ll tell my girls about it and we’ll talk about how that kid is doing the wrong thing, hurting her parent, etc. and we process how we (who are totally perfect) would never behave that way. I thought this was productive. Now I see that maybe it just made us seem judgmental and negative.

Have I set a bad example here? Have I made my daughters seem negative to others with a judgmental leaning? Is it time for us to develop a new attitude and a more embracing-of-others philosophy?

Shira writes:

I’ve always thought of myself as a positive person, but honestly, I use a lot of tissues (allergies, you know). When I think of being positive, I think more about how I let the things around me affect me, rather than my own opinions of others. Despite numerous rejections from jobs, I’ve tried as hard as I could to keep a positive attitude about my job search, and it hasn’t always been easy. It seems that it paid off, because despite being 20 minutes late to the interview, I did actually get the latest job I interviewed for.

As for judging others, yeah, we do it a lot. I don’t think it’s necessarily a negative thing. Being critical about the decisions others are making can help you make decisions for yourself. It might be a good idea to keep our opinions to ourselves more, but, let’s face it, that’s never going to happen.

Tamra Writes:

Just like Shira, when I read this, I immediately thought to myself, “I do use a lot of tissues.” Once I even had a discussion with someone about how some people are “tissue people” and some people are not. Somewhere along the line I changed from a “non-tissue person” to a “tissue person”, with my allergies and everything. Even with the abundance of tissues I do feel like I am a positive person. I don’t think there is anything wrong with poking fun at people you don’t know. They will never find out and it’s always good for a laugh. I’m not gonna lie, I love to judge. I’m not doing anything with my judgments, but I like having them around, and I think by looking at other people’s choices, whether it’s an unfortunate decision to wear tapered jeans, or the even more unfortunate choice to marry a guy you met online 2 weeks before, I think it helps me make the best decisions for myself. Is there any reason to not use other people’s mistakes so we don’t make the same ones ourselves? I don’t think so.  I feel that I am very positive. I always try to look on the bright side and work hard to do well. When other people at work complain, I try to make them laugh or show them the silver lining to their problems, which are usually ridiculous anyway. I think if you’re not letting your judgments make you become a negative Nancy, there is nothing wrong with keeping them around for another year. Besides, anyone who says they aren’t judgmental is probably lying.

Alexis Writes:

I’m confused about the tissues, but I don’t have allergies so maybe that’s why. I don’t think I’m a tissue person (that actually sounds kind of gross). I consider myself a work-in-progress person. I try to be positive but I am constantly frustrated by other people’s choices. I don’t really want to be influenced by what other people do but unfortunately the choices people make often affect me. If one of my co-workers tries lies about what they’re doing, they make my job harder. If someone says something that I find morally upsetting I don’t like to stand by and just absorb their ignorance. In this way the world can be a difficult place for me because I get very upset when I feel that I am being harmed, or see other people being mistreated. I understand that most people don’t let this stuff drown them so I try to ignore it when I am frustrated by other people’s choices. However, eventually what happens is I just get upset and explode later when it gets to the point that I can’t control it.

Because I know this about myself I am on a quest for inner peace. Most of the time this means exercising and lately it’s hot yoga. And, truth be told I’m even judging people during hot yoga. I look at who is wearing a cute outfit, who shouldn’t be wearing a crop top and most importantly who is better and who is worse than I am in my yoga class. This completely goes against the whole point of taking yoga but I have to tell you after about 10 minutes into the class I am so hot and sweaty and basically want to die that I am completely focused on myself. So that’s a victory because for a few moments I only worry about myself and I make no judgments about anyone (except whoever is teaching the class, because I basically want to kill them). The world is full of judgments. We are evaluated in our profession, we are evaluated in dating, and we are evaluated by other people judging if we are successful and happy. Judgment and judging is a part of life. The secret is not doing away with judgment, it’s how you deal with it that determines if you are a positive person.

Mom Writes: Okay, it sounds like a consensus. Judge on! Our optimism is safe within us and can co-exist alongside our judgments. If my goal was to raise positive people, I hope I succeeded. I do wonder, though, what other parents do to try to raise optimists. Or is it just inborn?

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Responses

  1. Everyone judges, it’s the way humans roll. I just try to make sure if I’m judging harshly for some reason, I try to temper it by adding something positive to my thoughts about the person (no matter how deep I have to reach). Being judgmental does make one a bit insecure when thinking that everyone is probably doing the same to you. I do try to hang with people who judge fairly and usually try to say positive things so they’ll do the same for me. That is unless I’m with a friend or daughter and we’re just being snarky for no reason except our own hilarity! Then it’s all good because laughter is the best medicine.

  2. I love that your friends will judge “fairly” and say positive things. And, I also love that you and your daughters snark for sport and hilarity. Truly, that does sound like fun. And you’re right, laughter does a body good.

  3. You CAN increase your happiness even if you are born into more of a pessimistic mind-set. Pursuit of Happiness by Dr. Seligman is a great book.

  4. I know of his work but haven’t read that one. I’m off to check it out. Thanks for taking the time to write.

  5. An interesting idea that you can change your mindset. I do enjoy a little behind-the-back judgement myself from time to time. What a great idea for a blog! So happy you stopped by mine so I could find you!


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