9 psychological reasons why some people are so horribly judgmental

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You’ve no doubt been on the receiving end of someone else’s judgment or criticism and can remember how awful it was.

Or perhaps YOU are the judgmental one and you’re looking to understand the judgments you make.

Why are some people judgmental while others are tolerant and accepting? What drives one person to be critical while another is supportive?

Let’s look at the psychological reasons why some people are judgmental. They can help us understand this type of behavior.

Speak to an accredited and experienced therapist to help you identify why you are judgmental and to work on overcoming this behavior. You may want to try speaking to one via BetterHelp.com for quality care at its most convenient.

1. They’re insecure and have low self-esteem.

Generally, the more insecure a person is about themselves, the more judgmental they’ll be toward others.

Those who judge others tend to draw from their own feelings, failings, and personal experiences.

If they were made to feel inferior, unvalued, unwanted, and disrespected in the past, they might display critical and demeaning behavior toward other people.

This is “projection as protection” at its finest.

They’re coming from a place of suffering and likely have an inferiority complex and low self-esteem. They target others to make themselves feel better.

2. Their upbringing was full of judgment and criticism.

Often, those who have been raised with a great deal of judgment and criticism become judgmental people in turn.

Having parents who constantly judged, criticized, mocked, and berated them will mean they develop similar behavioral patterns because of that experience.

Children mimic what they see and hear, so one who was constantly put down is more likely to put others down too as an adult.

3. They judge others to gloss over their own perceived flaws.

Many judgmental people have incredibly high standards, both for themselves and others.

If they succeed at something, they hold themselves up as examples of the types of things that others can (and should) be able to achieve.

This can lead them to make mean comments about people whom they see as lazy or less than and who are failing where they succeeded.

This often happens due to a sense of self-loathing—whether current or in retrospect—and a lack of self-awareness.

Take someone who has lost a lot of weight—they may have truly hated how they looked and felt before and refuse to remember themselves as that person anymore.

When they see others who have a similar shape to the one they used to have, their former self-loathing is projected onto the other. They express their anger through harsh words and judgments.

4. They make comparisons that lead to feelings of inadequacy.

Some judgmental people behave as though they feel superior to others, when in fact it’s the complete opposite.

Let’s say that person #1 isn’t very physically active and spends a lot of time watching reality TV.

If person #2 says that they don’t watch those kinds of shows, person #1 might feel insecure about their life choices.

They’ll ask #2 what they like to watch and put down whatever their answer is. That way, they put themselves back into a position of perceived superiority so they no longer feel “bad.”

Their criticism and judgment are all about covering up their own hurt and feelings of inadequacy.

5. They confuse control with a sense of security.

When many aspects of a person’s life seem beyond their control, they often try to influence or manipulate whatever they can so that they don’t feel so helpless.

This extends to needing a sense of reassurance that one’s life choices are the right ones.

They could be dealing with imposter syndrome or feel insecure and unhappy with how their life is going, but instead of dealing with those feelings or issues, they attack others in a bid to justify their own lifestyle and choices.

Because if they don’t, they might break down under the weight of their own unhappiness.

This can manifest in outright criticism and malice toward others or passive-aggressive behavior.

6. They get embarrassed due to personal standards of behavior.

Imagine person A (who’s immensely shy) getting horribly embarrassed if one of their friends (person B) leaps up on a pub table and starts dancing to a song being played.

Since person A would never feel comfortable doing that sort of thing, they judge their friend—who might be having a lot of fun—for their actions.

Alternatively, let’s say person A takes part in a certain type of behavior, but when they’re in a group and person B gets mocked for doing the same thing, person A joins in that mockery.

Person A might feel embarrassed and fiercely self-conscious because they suddenly feel as though they’ve been doing something wrong or “stupid.”

They’ll then transform that feeling into anger and judgment and express that at person B to try to make themselves feel better.

7. They are envious of others.

Judgmental behavior can stem from a person’s feelings of inadequacy and the envy they have of others.

Take a worker who starts undermining their colleague’s ideas and opinions in meetings.

What their colleague might not realize is that this person has been struggling with insecurities about their position in the company.

Perhaps they’ve been passed over for promotions or feel that their contributions aren’t valued.

In response to these feelings, they might project a sense of superiority or attempt to belittle their colleague’s ideas in front of others.

They don’t necessarily believe those ideas are inferior, but passing judgment is their rather unhealthy way of dealing with their internal struggles regarding self-worth and success.

8. They are attached to their opinions and feelings rather than neutral observations.

A lot of people are highly opinionated and keen to express how offended they are if anyone’s opinion goes contrary to their own.

Some people even claim to have been personally injured or “attacked” by those who hold different opinions.

Instead of just thinking “Okay, this is what I believe, and that’s what you believe, and both of these have merit even if we disagree,” people get incredibly attached to—and emotionally invested in—their ideology.

They get defensive and aggressive if others disagree with their stance.

It’s as though they can’t separate who they are from what they think or feel.

And if they are being judged for their opinion, they sure as hell are going to judge back.

9. They follow a tribe mentality: xenophobia and self-righteousness.

People like to feel part of something. This can be a social group, a religion, a political movement, or even a moral stance on a particular subject.

They feel that what they’re involved in is “right” and “true,” and will often look down upon others who don’t believe the same way they do.

Instead of acknowledging that others aren’t lesser beings for having different stances and beliefs than they do, those others are judged as being stupid, immoral, or inferior.

This behavior stems from the desire to feel a sense of unity and belonging amongst one’s peers. It means that the person doesn’t feel alone.

Are you a judgmental person who would like to change this rather negative trait?

Speak to a therapist about it.

Why? Because they are trained to help people in situations like yours.

They can help you to uncover the reasons why you judge people so often and so harshly before offering advice and exercises to help you stop thinking and behaving that way.

BetterHelp.com is a website where you can connect with a therapist via phone, video, or instant message.

While you may try to work through this yourself, it may be a bigger issue than self-help can address. And if it is affecting your mental well-being, relationships, or life in general, it is a significant thing that needs to be resolved.

Too many people try to muddle through and do their best to overcome issues that they never really get to grips with. If it’s at all possible in your circumstances, therapy is 100% the best way forward.

Here’s that link again if you’d like to learn more about the service BetterHelp.com provide and the process of getting started.

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About The Author

Finn Robinson has spent the past few decades travelling the globe and honing his skills in bodywork, holistic health, and environmental stewardship. In his role as a personal trainer and fitness coach, he’s acted as an informal counselor to clients and friends alike, drawing upon his own life experience as well as his studies in both Eastern and Western philosophies. For him, every day is an opportunity to be of service to others in the hope of sowing seeds for a better world.