Being a “judgmental person” is more than okay–it is wise

By Ox Drover

Many people think of the term “judging others” in a negative way. I think a lot of this comes from the Biblical admonition found in which Jesus said,  “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matthew 7:1). Matthew 7:2-5 says, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” What Jesus was condemning here was hypocritical, self-righteous judgments of others.

I frequently hear others say, “Well, I’m not judging him ”¦” when they talk about how someone they know has done something that is less than morally upright. When I was a young person in this community of mostly Scots-Irish Protestants, people were frequently “judged” or compared to community standards of behavior. If a woman or girl had a child out of wedlock, she was judged for doing so. She was held up to a standard of behavior that she had publicly failed to meet. Her child, unfortunately, was also “judged” because of the mother’s behavior. In fact, I have a friend who was born of an adulterous affair, and “everyone” knew who her father was, and though no one was nasty to her face, my friend still grew up feeling “judged” as a “bastard.” She had a “rough” childhood and adolescence, which included drug use, and early, promiscuous sexual behavior as a result of her feeling judged. Fortunately, she was able to pull herself out of her downward spiral, escape the vicious psychopath that she married. (He was charged with killing his mistress’s husband in a cold-blooded, execution-style murder.) My friend escaped from this man, married a good man, and has managed to raise her own daughter as a “good kid.” She has also managed to salvage her self-esteem and her place in the community as a well-liked and respected member of this community

What is “judging” exactly? What is fair judgment, and what is unfair judgment? Well, to me, “judging” what a person thinks or “reading their mind” is “magical thinking” and it is not possible to do fairly. No matter what people do, I can’t really know what they were thinking. One of the things that frustrated me the most in dealing with this “mind reading” was the gaslighting my egg donor did when she excused herself for lying to me by saying that if she had told me the truth I would have been so upset I would have “thrown a fit” because she loaned money to the psychopath my son had sent to infiltrate our family. I was so upset at the time that she presumed to be able to “read my mind” and I swore to her that I would not have “thrown a fit.” But how do you prove a negative when someone presumes to be able to read your mind and predict your behavior?

Mind reading and behavior prediction, based upon the ability to magically read one’s mind, is unfair judgment. It is, I think what Jesus was condemning in Matt 7:1 “Judge not least ye be judged.” However, showing discernment in our observations is not the kind of “judgment” that Jesus was condemning. James 3:11-12 says (11) Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening? (12) Can a fig tree, my brethren, bear olives or a grapevine bear figs? No spring yields both salt water and fresh. The author James is showing us here that we ought to be able to discern things that are right and good versus things that are bad by observation, not mind-reading ”¦ and that we should be able to see that a grapevine should bear grapes, and a fig tree figs, not the other way around. We ought to be able to look at a person’s “fruit” (behavior) and tell what that person is.

When we deal with a psychopath, many times they wear a “mask” to cover up what they are doing; they tell lies to throw us off the track. We aren’t perfect ourselves, and we know that we aren’t perfect, so we try not to “judge” others to a standard of perfection which we ourselves cannot reach. However, by trying to be empathetic to others and to not “judge” them, when we know ourselves not to be perfect, we sometimes go to the other extreme of not holding others to any standard of behavior at all. We calm ourselves by telling ourselves we are not “judging” this person, when in fact, we are overlooking their obvious bad behavior that repeats itself over and over and over.

While it may be comforting for us to think that there “is good in everyone” and that “even the worst person can change,” there are people who are quite satisfied to use and abuse others like objects or possessions, who actually obtain glee from using others.

Psychopathy isn’t “diagnosed” by one bad deed, or even two or three bad deeds, but is seen as a longstanding pattern of abusive behavior and an attitude of entitlement. Many times this bad behavior is masked behind a layer of “addiction” to drugs or alcohol, so that we may think that “if only he didn’t drink/drug” he would be fine, but this is “judging” in the wrong direction, by giving the person the benefit of the doubt about why they drink/drug. Judging in favor of someone (mind reading) about why they do bad acts is just as dangerous as mind reading the other direction and blaming someone for thoughts that you have magically put in their heads.

We need, as healthy individuals, to be able to discern behavior as abusive and to avoid the person who does these abusive things repeatedly, and to be able to judge/discern that person as an unhealthy individual for us to associate with. The reason doesn’t matter why they are unhealthy, and it really doesn’t matter if they qualify clinically as a psychopath or not, they are not healthy for us. The relationship drags us down.

The Biblical or social admonition to “judge not” doesn’t condemn us to being stupid to the point that we observe not, or that we fail to condemn bad behavior in either ourselves or others. We are expected to use our conscience to monitor our own behavior and when we fail to live up to the standard that we have set for ourselves we should feel “guilt” which tells us, “don’t do that again.” By the same token, we should also be able to see that the behavior of someone else is hurtful to us or others, and is not the kind of behavior that we would allow ourselves to do, so we are not obligated to tolerate it from someone else.

The bottom line is that if we don’t think that someone else’s behavior is something we would think is “okay to do,” then we do not have to allow that behavior or that person to affect our lives. If you won’t lie and cheat, don’t tolerate someone who does. If you wouldn’t steal, don’t tolerate someone who does. Stand up and say, “it is wrong to lie and steal, it is wrong to cheat. I won’t do that, and I won’t tolerate that.” That does not make you a “judgmental person,” it makes you a wise person. It makes you a discerning person. It makes you a healthy person.


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120 Comments on "Being a “judgmental person” is more than okay–it is wise"

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Oxy — “Judgment on mr ‘excuses'” is spot on! It’s not only appropriate, it’s necessary. When a guy truly cares for you and has a good heart, his actions are good. He doesn’t have to make excuses for everything he does. Instead, the things he does are just RIGHT from the start.

Actually, the other three of that company are completely different in personality. The one I jumped on the back of the bike on exhales pure peace. He moves peacefully, talks peacefully, listens, and pretty much always has a smile. He’s the complete opposite of Mr excuses with drama. He tends to take care of him whenever I see them together. The one with the sister, I don’t know much, nor his history, but in the discussion with his sister he was expressing the fact that he did not agree with the 4th guy having cheated on his girlfriend repeatedly, and him taking his distance once he realized I have just come out of a bad relationship, though he was commonly friendly when I left, for now gave me the impression he’s an ordinary guy with some sense.

I was kinda surprised to hear what their friend had done. When he works behind the bar, he’s a hard worker, no games and often serious. At least at work he acts responsible, and at least verbally came across as someone who took the responsibility over the chilren of his girlfriend serious (not his children). Actually my ex P commented once that he wasn’t much of a fan of him, something in the line of not being able to gauge him. That probably was because he couldn’t con him or charm him.

This group of men used to live in campers near the river, guys and women, who do not fully agree with society, a bit anarchistically bended. But they’ve grown older, acquired responsibilities, and now live in houses, but sometimes just taking the van for a month to enjoy a time of little or no worries and possessions.

Of them, most are decent guys as far as I know, but Mr.Excuses is the actual parasitic drama queen who used to live amongst them. I can’t really totally avoid him, but I know I’ll keep my inner self distanced from him and pretty much ignore him most of the time.

skylar… “I was one of the ones who was so openminded my brain fell out.”
Oh jeez, that’s a classic!!

It would have been hard before the P to consciously watch and filter the red flags of a harmful personality. There were people I avoided or kept at an arm’s length (like mr excuses), because I had a gut feeling, but I could never have been able to pinpoint the reason so well for myself before.

I was not totally uninformed about sociopathy and psychopathy, but when you don’t know what to look for it’s hard for yourself to cognitively say “that guy has no empathy.” But through my experience I had to consciously recall of instances beyond the mask that showed the P had been without empathy. Through the experience I now see excuses for what they are: excuses for not doing what you know is right. Previously I registered them as “reasons” and a “call to understand”. I might not have agreed with the behaviour, but still would have extended understanding and accepted the “reasons” as “oh so that’s why…”

Last night that did not happen. I knew he was behaving ill towards his gf by staying out. He was giving reasons and seeking support, and now I could see them for what they were… poor excuses to behave badly and keep behaving egocentrically. When that did not work he came with the story about his dead friend. A couple of months ago that would have diverted my thinking in extending sympathy and being an ear to his woes about losing a friend. Instead of keeping on the topic, I would have started to ask questions about who had died, how they had died, etc… That did not happen at all, last night. I felt it was actually very bad taste to bring it up in relation to the topic of having a “reason” to upset his girlfriend and do whatever he wanted. I just suddenly knew that it was not about having a fight with his girlfriend, or having lost a friend he knew half of his life. It was about feeling entitled to behave badly, and the rest were secondary subjects to him. So, I felt free from feeling any sympathy with his loss.

New Winter,

Darling first of all, you are still very young, so there is lots of learning for you to do and actually your pre-frontal cortex, the thinking part of your brain doesn’t actually mature until you are about 25, so relax….

Read here and learn as much as you can about the red flags for them.

But also, learn about maturing and becoming a stronger person in your own self. BEING OK without someone else saying “New Winter is OK” Deciding for yourself what kind of person you want to be and then BEING that person. Honest, open, kind, caring, but you do not have to go overboard to be giving to someone for them to value you…or to get them to “love you./”

You are okay just for you, not for what you do for others.

Make yourself happy, content and satisfied in the kind of man you are, and don’t depend on someone else to “make you happy” because they can die, leave, change, etc. and then you are back to being unhappy. Our security and happiness must come from ourselves, and then we can SHARE that happiness with someone who is ALSO HAPPY WITH THEMSELVES. I hope that makes sense.

Right now, quit “looking” for someone….just BE YOU and have a good time….there will come a time when you will be ready to “look” but right now I don’t think is the time, get some more knowledge under your belt first and some more security in who NEW WINTER IS. (((hugs)))

Very appropriate. Thank you

This is so true for me.

“We aren’t perfect ourselves, and we know that we aren’t perfect, so we try not to “judge” others to a standard of perfection which we ourselves cannot reach. However, by trying to be empathetic to others and to not “judge” them, when we know ourselves not to be perfect, we sometimes go to the other extreme of not holding others to any standard of behavior at all. We calm ourselves by telling ourselves we are not “judging” this person, when in fact, we are overlooking their obvious bad behavior that repeats itself over and over and over.”

So very true…and many comments thought provoking.

Dear Coping, I am glad that you read this article, because I have seen so MANY people who were/are afraid to “judge’ another’s bad behavior. The trick is that WE must hold OURSELVES to the SAME standard than we hold others to. If we don’t want to be around dishonest people, WE must be HONEST. If we dont’ want to be around people who are irresponsible, we must BE RESPONSIBLE.

We treat others well, but we must also EXPECT TO BE TREATED WELL, and to NOT TOLERATE less. How can we tell what is a boundary if we don’t “judge” what people are DOING. We can’t know their thoughts, but we sure CAN tell what their BEHAVIOR IS.

You want what is good for your child, so keep those people away from yourself as well as your child. A child learns what is acceptable or unacceptable behavior by watching what you TOLERATE from others as well as by how you act. (((hugs))))


So many people do not understand this verse in the Bible. It is taken out of context. As you said above, WE must hold OURSELVES to the SAME standard that we hold others to. That’s what scripture means when it goes onto say, “first take the plank out of your own eye and THEN you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” It is saying that yes, we can judge, but we need to be right first.

Thanks..big ((((hug)))) right back at you.

Lots to think about.

God bless

I constantly marvel at how I log into this site and see articles such as this one that reflect exactly what I have come to learn since escaping from the spath. I find myself talking to friends and co-workers about the importance of judging for yourself people and situations that don’t feel quite right. If I had only known then what I know now.

Thanks for another great insightful article, Oxy!

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