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I’m So Judgmental. I Want to Conquer This! Any Suggestions?

Stop being judgmental!

One key thing I’ve learned from my happiness project is that I’m much more likely to stick to a resolution if I make it concrete. The more specific I am with myself, the more easily I can hold myself accountable, and the more easily I can keep the resolution.

So, for example, instead of resolving to “Get more fun out of life,” I resolve to “Start a children’s-literature reading group.” Instead of resolving to “Stay calm in the morning,” I resolve to “Get enough sleep” and “Wake up an hour before my family.” Instead of resolving to “Appreciate the moment,” I resolve to “Keep a one-sentence journal.”

I’m really struggling to find a way to make one of my new resolutions concrete: Stop being judgmental. Yes, I know, I’m judging myself for being too judgmental. Ironic! But I really deserve this judgment.

I never realized how judgmental I was, until I decided that I wanted to cut back. Now I see that I’m terribly judgmental – both with myself, and with other people.

I’ve made some slight headway. My Personal Commandment to “Be Gretchen” has helped me become less judgmental of myself. Instead of judging myself harshly for not being more interested in music, say, I accept myself, likes and dislikes as they are. I repeat my Secret of Adulthood: I can choose what I do, but I can’t choose what I like to do.

As for judging other people: my not-always-faithfully-kept resolution to “Stop gossiping” has helped me say fewer judgmental things – but I still think them to myself. That’s what I want to stop. It’s none of my business how other people feed their children! Or how concerned they are with germs! Or whether they observe odd superstitions, or what they say into their cell phones, and on and on.

I’ve tried some strategies. I’ve tried reminding myself, “I am who I am” and “I’m not the boss of you,” because often my judgment comes from my desire to insist to people that I’m right, and they’re wrong. Or else to point out this important fact to third parties, behind the backs of the people with whom I disagree.

Or often my judgment springs from ugly emotions like jealousy, resentment, or insecurity. Again, reminding myself that “I am who I am” is helpful, but doesn’t always do the trick.

This resolution – to be less judgmental – is hard to keep, because it’s very abstract. So here’s my question: do you observe in your own life, or can you imagine, a concrete practice to help fight this tendency to be judgmental? Some mantra to repeat, some action you do, some quotation you keep posted above your desk? I need help.

* I was very pleased to be asked to join the Daily Brainstorm -- "a blogazine to rock your mind." A terrific resource, lots of great material gathered in one place. Check it out!

* Speaking of trying not to pass judgment on myself, if you'd like to see a copy of the comic I did, "Gretchen Rubin and the Quest for a Passion" -- all about me trying to "Be Gretchen" and accept myself -- email me at grubin at gretchenrubin dot com. Just write "comic" in the subject line.

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