Don’t judge a book by its cover. This metaphorical phrase means one should not judge the worth or value of something or someone by the outward appearance. Forming an opinion on anyone based solely on what the eyes can see is often misleading. Surface level judgment is often astray as people are often very different than expected when you take a deeper look.
One cannot possibility know the whole story just by seeing the front cover. Just as one cannot know another just by judging their outward appearance or actions. This person’s character, beliefs, or intelligence are more than what can be seen physically. And you don’t know their situation. But, unfortunately judging is easy, and our society makes it even easier. In fact, judgment seems to get promoted. It’s all around us, from gossip, billboards, commercials, and most of all social media.
I know firsthand how harsh judgment can be. I’ve been judged “good” and “bad” my entire life. I think we all have. And I’ll admit, I’ve been the one to do the judging a lot too. Again, I think we all have. It happens! The difference is I now try to catch myself judging and stop the thought or hold my tongue. I instead try to look at the person or situation with curiosity and wonder why they are the way they are. What happened that made this situation occur or them to react the way they are? There’s nothing to be gained from simply judging another. In fact, the only person it’s casting judgment onto is myself.
Casting judgment does not define that person, but it does define you. Often people will judge others, but they are really judging themselves. The person they are judging is reflecting to them the same judgment they have of themselves. And usually, the judgment is related to a personal weakness or insecurity.
For example, you judge another for being outspoken, interjecting themselves into your conversations, cutting you off mid-sentence, etc. That judgment comes from weaknesses surrounding your communication skills. Maybe you wish you could be more open and outspoken or could insert yourself into conversation for your voice to be heard. You have insecurities surrounding your ability to communicate well and this individual is reflecting that back to you. Don’t judge them for that, be grateful to them for showing it to you and work to improve.
Maybe you’ve recently judged another for the car they drive and the amount of money they make. But the truth is, you are judging them because you wish you were as successful as they are and able to afford the same things they do. And since judging is easy, it’s easier to judge them as a materialistic individual rather than see the level of effort they put in to achieve the success to be able to afford such purchases. It makes you feel better about losing your job and driving a used car if you judge. But there is nothing to be learned from it if you take that approach. Instead, see the lesson in this judgment and open your eyes to the opportunities and doors of success opening to you.
Here’s my favorite judgment example (or should I say least favorite -it’s one of my biggest pet peeves). Overhearing someone judging another in the gym. The truth is the person doing the judging feels so terrible about themselves that they judge another whom they believe looks worse than they do all in some ill attempt to boost their own self esteem. It doesn’t work that way! The individual doing the judging wishes they had the same confidence and commitment the person doing the workout does. They admire that person (but have a terrible way of showing it). The person being judged for showing up and putting in the work is reflecting to the other the need to love themselves enough to commit the time and energy it takes to care well for themselves (regardless of how they look).
Not to belabor the point…But there is even judgment about judging. Is your head spinning yet? The bottom line is judging another is highlighting our own insecurities and weaknesses. Those we are judging come into our life to shine light on the areas of ourselves we are not comfortable with to make them be known and provide the opportunity to improve. If we learn to live with this lesson, we eliminate the need to make ourselves feel empowered or better others by judging them.
It’s impossible to live a life free from judgment, but it is possible to get better. Make it a goal to not be “judgy.” And the next time, you are about to think or speak a judgment, take a minute. Think about it. Be honest with yourself. Could this person be reflecting a weakness or insecurity back to you? Are you only looking at the surface level of things? Get to know the whole story before you judge it.