Hello, my name is Janelle, and I judge everybody.

by Janelle Hanchett


So a few different things have come up lately that have made me think about the whole concept of judging others.

Or, perhaps, not judging others.

People tend to say that a lot: “Don’t judge.”

Or “I don’t judge.” This statement is, in my opinion, one of the hugest piles of steaming bullshit around.

And, most of the individuals I’ve run into who claim “not to judge” are the most raging judgmental people on the planet – they just keep it all inside – obsessed with the bullshit political correctness movement, wherein we all judge each other silently, but violently, and stand from our pedestal of righteousness and superiority since we “know how to talk properly and respectfully and non-judgmentally.”

Which is of course, in itself, a judgment.

Because as far as I can tell there is no way to avoid judging others. It’s like an auto-pilot reaction to life. I have been conditioned by my social, economic, cultural backgrounds to perceive the world in a certain way. I’ve developed ideas along the way regarding right or wrong, educated or not, classy or not – the list continues. I’ve been told things from a very young age by parents and teachers and the media, things that wedge themselves into the crevices of my mind whether I want them there or not.

I can’t just THINK that shit away. I can’t just erase them with positive self-talk and Oprah.

In my experience, the best thing to do with the judgments I have is to admit that they’re there, face them directly, and remain as willing as I possibly can to let them go should information come my way that negates them.

I try to keep my mind open.

And usually, that’s how it works for me. I think I know something. I think I know the way it should be done and oh yeah I get all self-righteous in that knowledge, until life hands me something in startling opposition to that belief – and I realize, in a flash…I was wrong.

Boom. Judgment gone.

I think that’s why so many people who haven’t had children are so judgmental of people’s parenting approaches. They haven’t had kids yet so they still think it’s easy and straightforward and universal.

And then they have kids and they’re like “Holy fuck I didn’t realize it was like THIS.”

Or they remain judgmental pricks and we hate them.

But after thinking about this for awhile, I think when people are saying “don’t judge” they actually mean “don’t condemn.”

And that I think is some sound advice. If I reject people because they’re doing something I don’t agree with, if I shun them or silence or ignore them, well then I’ve entered the land of closed-mindedness and I am sure to stay swimming forever in the pool of my own judgments and hate.

I have all kinds of people in my life who do things on a regular basis that make me wonder if they have some sort of mental disorder. But I freaking love them anyway. My love blows past my ego’s need to judge them. I watch my judgment come up. Maybe I say something, maybe I don’t. But I try to just go back to loving them. Because usually there’s more to a person than this one thing that really irritates me. And I know that. And I try to hold on to that.

Unless that thing is really fucking BIG. In that case, we pretty much can’t be friends. I’m not Mother Theresa, you know. (as shocking as that may strike you.)

Maybe I shouldn’t write my judgments on my blog. Maybe I should hold them all inside in case they are disproven at a later date.

Maybe. But I don’t think so. It’s way too much fun to let that shit go sometimes.

And if it turns out I’m wrong, holy shit won’t that sting even more! And then I get to get on my blog and tell all you guys “Oh, yeah. About that. I don’t think I believe that anymore.”

And that’d be okay.

And here’s the other thing. Some behavior should be judged. We have to use our brains to look critically at what this world is selling us, right? We gotta question, always question.

If somebody is beating their child they should be judged. Right? What if we just said “oh, well, let’s have an open mind and support them in their beliefs?”

Or Martin Luther King, Jr. Was he not judging? Was he not taking a look at this society and analyzing it like a jeweler looks at a diamond, assessing what was right and wrong, but with the eyes of the open-minded and loving and curious?

He judged, but he didn’t condemn. And his love made him profoundly effective.

No, I am not comparing myself to MLK, Jr. Um, that would be ridiculous. He changed our country. I say “fuck” a lot and whine about inappropriate kid clothing and guinea pigs.

He came to my mind because he embodies what I believe to be the epitome of a free-thinking, resistant, powerful individual. He was an excellent “judge.” He looked, he knew it was wrong, he worked with great power and determination to change it. And he did it out of love for all humanity. Though he could have, he didn’t condemn whites. Instead he loved people with such depth that he could see the universal suffering caused from hate and racism, and from that place of acceptance and love he resonated with people’s souls.

Yeah, I don’t do that. I also don’t love everybody.

But I do try, in my own small, unimportant, slightly pathetic way, to say things honestly as I see them, to stand up for a few things I believe to be true and right and real. I feel a little fear (but I do it anyway) every time I write a post that exposes myself deeply or opinions that may be controversial.

But I’ve never had the gift of small talk or indirectness or beating around the proverbial bush. Consequently, I am really good at removing my foot from my mouth.

I am also so used to being wrong it isn’t funny. (Although as you all know, I still get worked up sometimes when others attempt to tell me I’m wrong. My ego stomps its foot screaming obscenities in the corner of the room, and I write pissed off retaliatory blog posts.) That’s because I’m also, quite often: childish, self-centered, egotistical and shallow. I get hurt feelings and want to retaliate and prove myself. Why? I don’t freaking know.


Because I’m a human. With judgments and disasters and successes and failures and tantrums.

I will try to love you. But I will let you down. I will contradict myself. I will walk out too soon or stay too long or speak the wrong words.

But at least I’m speaking them. And that, somehow, feels right.

  • Stephanie Vought

    “Don’t judge”= “Don’t condemn”…Perfect way to put it!

  • The Sweetest

    I think that when people say, “don’t judge” it’s because they can’t fear others will view them in the same way they view themselves. If none of us were self-condemners there’s be a lot less please-don’t-judging. *Sigh* In a perfect world.

  • Brandon

    Agree 100%

    I think more than anything people worry too much about hurting feelings, so they say “You’re not allowed to judge others” because then no feelings get hurt. But can’t that precipitates change?

    I had someone in my family call me judgemental because I didn’t want to have my alcoholic, violent uncle in my house any more unless he changed. At that point I knew that political correctness and worrying about hurting a person’s feelings had spun out of control. Or we so afraid of being cast as judgmental that we would really continue to allow a potentially (self)destructive situation?

    The people that say “Don’t judge” are the same that demand trophies for every kid.

  • Michael Ann

    Such a great post. I don’t think I’ve heard this said any better. I have thought a lot about judgement and agree, we all do it and yes, there is some judgement that is good. We have to have some sense of general right and wrong. Just a really excellent piece here, Janelle.

  • Lesley

    I love this post. And I hear your struggle w/judgement.

    You are right “Judgement” most often (for me at least) equals Condemning. With that kind of judgment there is no space for compassion or love. And compassion, just to be clear, does not mean mindless tolerance and a simple “live & let live” mindset. True, honest, clear compassion recognizes that we really don’t know everything or enough and keeps us humble in that recognition. In the same exact breath, true, honest, clear compassion means to always be willing to firmly speak the truth (to yourself first and then others), resolutely willing to call people (yourself included) on their shit, and to be unwaveringly firm in face of injustice.

    This: “….the best thing to do with the judgements I have is to admit they’re there, face them directly, and remain as willing as I possibly can to let them go should information come my way that negates them.” — rocks!

    Letting more information in is one thing – actively seeking it out is another. The capacity to love, be honest and to hold compassion as the highest goal is what makes me strive for better than I am currently.

    It’s all very spiritual, scary and silly. Kudos for this post! It’s spot-on in my life today.

  • Rachel

    One of my favorite quotes is keep an open mind but don’t leave it so open that your brain falls out. I think that pretty much sums up your well said point. Great post!

  • Stacey

    *slow clap*

    Great post.

  • jess

    Nail. Head.

    I love this post. Its so damned spot on. Your self honesty is fucking fabulous, and no matter what, unabashedly so.


  • Sean Marie

    Yeah, people are so full of shit.

    That’s why I judge them.

  • Rebecca Varon

    I spoke up at a class meeting the other day about how it’s ok for parents to actually be the parent and say no to their kids…and two people came at me like human bullets accusing me of being so judgmental…I walked out of the meeting later feeling like I had a giant J (read scarlet letter) emblazoned on my back! Now who was judging whom? 🙂 Sometimes it’s the people who speak up who are actually the most judged…as being judgmental! funny thing:)

  • Trackbacks

  • Trackback from Hybrid Rasta Mama: Judgment Is Natural – Just Don’t Condemn
    Tuesday, 14 February, 2012

    […] with other parents compassionately.*** A few days ago I read a very raw, honest post from Janelle of Renegade Mothering. In fact, her post was a topic that I was going to explore for this month’s Carnival of […]

  • Trackback from Judgment Is Natural – Just Don't Condemn Hybrid Rasta Mama
    Friday, 8 August, 2014

    […] few days ago I read a very raw, honest post from Janelle of Renegade Mothering. In fact, her post was a topic that I was going to explore for this month’s Carnival of […]

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