Am I being judgmental? This is a question I come back to often. Making snap judgements isn’t a bad thing. It’s a necessary survival skill. There’s not enough time to analyze everything. So the idea that we can be 100% non-judgmental isn’t realistic. However, it is possible to be overly-judgmental. Let’s be honest, not every situation requires a snap judgement. Most of the time we have plenty of time to analyze or at least spend a few extra minutes assessing a particular situation/person before passing judgement. So, why are we so quick to make snap judgements? Is it pure laziness? Or, are we conditioned to judge people who are different than us more negatively? The same goes for situations, do we judge situations that we’re not used to harsher than those we have previous experience with?
According to some research conducted at Harvard University, it might be the later. The study, “Trust Your Gut or Think Carefully? Examining Whether an Intuitive, Versus a Systematic, Mode of Thought Produces Greater Empathic Accuracy” suggests that our ability to accurately asses people using our intuition is often incorrect. When we use our intuition we are relying heavily on that gut reaction to protect ourselves from harm. But, those gut reactions are peppered with our own biases. If we rely on intuition alone, then we’re likely to miss external context that is impacting the other person in that moment.
If you really sit back and think about how intuition works, it makes perfect sense. Our intuition is a series of super fast connections our brain makes by comparing the data in front of us to past learned experiences and events. If it’s foreign to us, then how accurate can our intuition be? It can’t. Our brain just does the best it can with the information at hand. Sometimes it’s right, but oftentimes it’s wrong.
Too Many Snap Judgments
Lately, I’ve noticed that my intuition isn’t as great as I thought it was. Growing up in a dangerous neighborhood sharpens your instincts. You either learn street smarts or accept your demise. So, I’ve always relied heavily on my intuition. The thing is I’m no longer in a dangerous neighborhood. However, I’m still using that frame of reference to make decisions. As you can guess, it’s not helpful. It could actually be detrimental.
The worst part is when I make parental decisions based on snap-judgements. For instance, when the kids ask if they can watch something on YouTube or play a game online. I’ll glance at it and say yes or no without doing any research on the content. This has resulted in several bad decisions. Once, my 9 year asked if she can play a game on Roblox. I said yes without asking her about the game. Her phone has parental restrictions turned on so she shouldn’t be able to access inappropriate content. Turns out she was playing a Squid game. She was excited about the game and told my husband about it. After listening to her talk about it for a minute, he told her to show him the game. It’s really violent, and not appropriate. I’m guessing I’m not the only parent that’s made that mistake.
However, when I pass judgement based on how loud someone is or the way they dress, well, I can’t help but feel bad. I did this with my daughter Layla. She loves JoJo Siwa. I took one quick look at one of her YouTube videos, and decided that I didn’t like her. I thought she was obnoxious. So I told Layla no. Kids are impressionable and I didn’t want her copying her.
About 6 months later, Layla’s friend starts watching JoJo Siwa and is all excited about her. Layla obviously felt jealous and mad because I wouldn’t let her watch or listen to JoJo Siwa. This caused friction. So, I did what most parents would do. I asked her friend’s mom what she thought about JoJo Siwa. She agreed personally doesn’t like her, but her songs are good.
Was I Being Judgmental?
That gave me pause. Was I being judgmental? Spoiler alert: I was! After our conversation I sat down with Layla and listened to some of her songs. Guess what? The messages in the songs are actually really good. They promote confidence, acceptance, perseverance, kindness, loyalty, and dreaming big. All the traits I’m trying to instill in my children, and here I was not letting her listen to them all because I thought she obnoxious. I’ll be honest, I’ve completely changed my mind about JoJo Siwa. What I thought was loud and obnoxious was actually confidence. A trait I could use more of.
Luckily, I try not to be rigid. If I make a mistake, I admit it and apologize. I never want to be the type of parent that dismisses their children’s opinions and feelings. At the end of the day, sometimes I’m wrong and their points are valid. This was definitely one of those instances.