tyour gut rust has long been considered imperfect and unreliable, a form of pseudoscience “woo-woo” with no logical explanation for the concept of sixth sense and the boundary between intuition and the sense of best judgment is murky.
But in recent years, research has demonstrated the true effectiveness of gut instinct. Studies show that combining gut feelings with analytical thinking leads to faster, more accurate decisions. And, the stomach isn’t just what scientists call a “second brain” because the evidence is anecdotal. About 100 million neurons line the digestive tract, more than the neural network surrounding the spinal cord.
While this is certainly good news for those who believe in the power of intuition—successful CEOs and other top executives claim to leverage it when dealing with crises, and large organizations invest every million dollars in helping professionals hone their intuition skills—the growing acceptance of using your intuition as a guide (and real-world applications thereafter) perhaps had an undesirable side effect: The more able we felt to listen to—and trust—our gut, the more prepared we were to be judgmental assholes. But where does the telling instinct end and where does the quick judgment begin?
Understand the difference between intuition and judgment
“Trusting your intuition is often a feeling rather than a thought process,” says licensed psychologist Dr. Jessica Rabon. “We can feel uncomfortable when we are in trouble, or something is wrong. In contrast, judgment is about forming opinions or drawing conclusions about other people or situations, rather than the way they are made. Friend feel.”
So, while intuition might lead someone to say, “I have a bad feeling about this person,” judgment can get them to say, “This person is rude.”
Adia Gooden, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist, adds that judgment is often an extra layer on which people, especially women, rely on their intuition. “Regulating your inner intellect and intuition is often seen as more feminine, and at the same time seen as emotional and irrational,” says Dr. Gooden. “We often denigrate people who just follow their intuition, so I think these people have learned to justify that. So if we had a bad date, our hunch says it’s not okay, but then we make judgments about it. ‘They were five minutes late, and the restaurant they chose was so mediocre, and the way they were dressed…’”
This often happens spontaneously and subconsciously. You can do that with your best friend, as they go on to date someone you don’t think is a good match. You’re doing it with your colleagues, when they force a meeting that could be an email. You’re doing that to the person in front of you queuing at the coffee shop, when they give an overly complicated coffee order to the barista and to the stranger on the train who’s wearing a suit You find it completely unsuitable for the weather.
But just as its more emotional cousin, intuition, is generally notorious—and unfair—so is judgmental behavior. “Judgements provide us with really rich information about our value system and the things that are important to us,” says Mary Beth Somich, licensed therapist. “We live in a complex world where we have to make hundreds of judgments every day. They are necessary, and inherently not a bad thing.” Dr. Rabon agrees: “Judgment can help us navigate our lives, identify the friends we have, the relationships we have or the job we want to apply for.”
It is what we do with that judgment—and how, according to Somich, “it is presented, delivered, or enforced”—can become problematic. “Excessive judgment can prevent us from experiencing the things that can bring richness to our lives,” she says. “It can contribute to discrimination or hatred, and can exacerbate or promote anxiety and fear, negatively impacting the mental health and well-being of others. and our own.”
Dr. Rabon says the second point is an important one. “When we overestimate others, when we overreact, we are actually harming ourselves,” she said. “Our brains become more attuned to finding negativity in others, which in turn leads us to find more negativity in ourselves.” She has seen this lead to increased stress, anxiety and depression.
What to do when your judgment hurts more than it helps
1. Pay attention to what triggers your judgmental behavior.
“The first step to being less judgmental is to increase your awareness of your judgments,” says Dr. Rabon. She recommends proactively identifying a time when you’re having critical thoughts and then taking an inventory of what’s happening at that time. “What is the stimulus that actually elicits judgmental thinking; What emotions did you feel before, during, and after?”
By capturing these moments and detecting patterns, you may discover your judgments are enhanced in certain environments or around certain people in your life. Or, you might be triggered when you’re feeling a certain way—perhaps you have more judgmental thoughts when you’re too tired and feeling irritable.
2. Let go of self-judgment
People often judge themselves more than others, which is why Dr. Gooden encourages clients to try to address the root of judgmental behavior. “Let’s say you’re going to a party and you judge someone’s dress,” she says. “Ask yourself why is it letting you down. Do you feel self-conscious about the way you dress? Are you judging yourself by how your body looks?
She also suggests that people should catch themselves in the act of openly having self-critical thoughts. “One of the ways to practice that is through self-compassion,” she says. “When people are more compassionate to themselves, they can be more compassionate to others.”
3. Refine Your Vocabulary
Do you often use words like Good, bad, alwaysor never? According to Somich, if these are common descriptions (“You’re unreliable because you’re always late,” for example), you’re probably doing too much “black and white or all-or-nothing thinking.” . “This is a common cause of overjudgment,” she said. “Grace yourself when using this language and see if there are exceptions to that story.”
One solution she suggested is to also add the word And to black and white thoughts. “Try saying, ‘my neighbor can be so annoying, And I appreciate it when he shares fresh vegetables from his garden.’”
4. Curiosity instead of criticism
It’s a subtle mental shift, but curiosity provides a more positive framework than criticism. “Be curious about why a person might act a certain way and try to find alternative explanations for that behavior rather than jumping to critical conclusions,” says Dr. Rabon.
For example, if you see a mother staring at her phone while pushing her baby on a playground swing set, you might at first assume she’s a “bad” parent. , but try to politely broaden her curiosity and reconsider her reasons for doing it. Maybe she’s catching up on work after days out with a sick child, or maybe she’s sending an urgent text to her partner.
5. Practice Acceptance
Accepting other people or circumstances can be challenging, but Dr Rabon says it’s key to getting rid of toxic judgment. “We cannot control the behavior of others, we can only control how we react to them,” she said. “Once we realize that we can only control so many things, it becomes easier for us to accept people and situations for who they are and who they are because we shift our focus. from the outside to the inside.”
One key way to engage in acceptance is to be exposed to different cultures and experiences, says Somich, rather than “implementing behaviors based on preexisting beliefs.” “Ask yourself, ‘Is this assessment accurate or helpful?’” The more you can accept, the clearer the answer to that will be.
6. Stay connected to your gut
It is certainly possible to make judgments without relying on intuition, but Somich says: “The danger of judging—as a personality trait, compared with making judgments—is losing that connection. with intuition.” When making decisions, try to join them. Your gut and judgment go hand in hand.
Dr. Gooden likes to “listen” to those inner thoughts to better determine whether the judgment is on the right track. “How quiet and calm our gut sounds are,” she says. “We often know if a job interview went well or if we want a second date, and when we ask ourselves, we can often hear it in the background. own gut. We can hear it loud and nervous or it’s calm and quiet. Let that inform you.