We get it, judgement is a natural instinct. Judging others and ourselves is part of life. And while we may proclaim that we love our friends despite their flaws, let's be honest... that's just not the case.
I remember complaining to my therapist about a close friend. I was fed up with her life choices and frankly, felt really put off by her lifestyle. My therapist listened intently as I explained my frustrations. At the end, I took a deep breath and looked at her, waiting for her to agree with me. But she didn't...
"It's not your place to tell her what to do. You're not her parent. She's not your child. She's an adult. Let her live her life the way she wants to."
What a statement. I felt a bit embarrassed. Was I too judgmental for my own good?
The quick answer is: no. However you look at it, we're all judging everyone. You're not alone if you're like me and often think the worst of people, including your closest friends. In fact, friends can be more prone to judgement than simply an acquaintance who you don’t really know or like.
Your friend doesn't need you to fix them.
In our friendships, we want to feel seen, loved, and accepted. So when we enter into a relationship where our friends feel like they don't approve of our way of living, we aren't going to feel that sense of security we so need in our relationships.
The definition of platonic intimacy is being allowed to express your true self emotions and all without being fixed or changed. And, that the other person is allowed to do the same.
So, when you opt for criticizing or dismissing your friend... or worse, insulting them, that habit can create a deep-rooted detachment in your relationship. It tells the other person that you're not okay with them being themself.
Comments like "You're just so emotional sometimes" or "Wow, you sleep around a lot" are toxic for your relationship.
Important note: Of course if your friend is putting you in an uncomfortable position or disrespecting you with their actions, you should always speak up! Taking advantage, lack of gratitude, or super destructive behaviors are important to communicate in your relationship.
How to Break The Cycle
If you find yourself in a situation where you want to judge your friend, check yourself first! Why do you feel critical in this moment? Why are you so irritated by them? Are you harboring resentment over something from the past? Are you jealous? Competitive?
Looking at our own experiences helps us reframe our judgement. If you've personally felt pain or guilt from actions similar to theirs, perhaps you are protecting them from mistakes you think they'll make because of it. For example, let's say they cheated on their partner and you were cheated on in the past, maybe this explains why you feel hurt by their actions.
Try your best to communicate to your friend how you're feeling, without passing judgement.
Compassion > Criticism
Once you've come to terms with your ruminating thoughts, you need to take steps to prevent the thoughts from becoming critical comments. Flexing your compassion can help with this!
If you have empathy for your friend, they'll be more receptive to you. And it prevents you from being too negative. Think about how you'd like to receive feedback and practice being in their position. It will do wonders for your relationship!