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How to avoid the malice of judgment

Nov 20, 2010

The malice of judgment occurs when the desire to do harm emotionally or spiritually to others or to ourselves comes up as a result of being judged by others or when we judge others ourselves. The malice (desire to do harm) causes us to distance ourselves emotionally or hardens our heart towards others in anger, both of which are bad for us emotionally and spiritually.

How can we soften the malice of judgment? How can we not experience anger when we experience judgment?

There are two types of judgment. Judgment coming to us from others and judgment going to others from us.

First, how can we soften our anger when the malice of judgment is coming to us from others?

Don't allow the judgment to hurt our self esteem. Don't take it personally, which means to accept it as a truth about us and then to believe that we are less of a person because of it. We could instead just accept it as the other person's opinion which could be an unrealistic or irrational opinion clouded by their own issues. Above all, even if we decide to give the person's opinion some credibility, we must learn to do this without thinking we are less of a person for our imperfections.
We could bravely, completely open ourselves up to self reflection about the judgment. We could seek to see the truth in the person's judgment of us. Even if we can't see it we could try to understand why they see it. We could accept the judgment as a gift because it represents an opportunity for growth and change.
We could choose to see the sender of the judgment as just someone who may be hurting themselves. If they are sending the judgment to us as a way of hurting us it clearly means they are hurting themselves. If they are sending the judgment to us as a way of helping us then we could choose to see them as caring about us and having good intentions.

Second, how can we soften our anger and the malice of judgment when it is going to others from us?

If we are angry with them about something, we could instead choose to forgive them for the way they are. This does not mean that we won't set boundaries with them and say no to their behaviors. Instead it means we won't hold onto anger towards them for the way they have behaved. The holding onto anger is what creates the malice in our judgment. If we forgive them and accept them for the way they behave we probably won't have much judgment towards them at all. If we do, it will be more of a judgment based on concern rather than a judgment with malice.
We can choose to focus on empathy, which means an attempt to understand their behaviors from their perspective rather than our own. We would seek to understand what they were feeling or what was going on in their life at the time which might have motivated their behavior. To have empathy (which is the opposite of negative judgment) does not require that we agree with them, only that we understand them.
We can choose to focus on how we might have had some responsibility in triggering how they behaved or in even creating the problem we might have because of their behavior. We always have some level of responsibility in our problems. This takes the focus off of the other person's behavior and helps to soften our feelings towards them.
Finally, we want to judge their behavior and not their character. We will probably feel more anger towards them if we think of them as character deficient as opposed to seeing the behavior as a bad choice or a mistake on their part.

Author: Lorraine Watson

Lorraine Watson is a licensed therapist in California with extensive experience in the areas of anger management, nonabusive relationship skills and trauma. She is the author of "Expressing Anger Nonviolently". The contents of that book can be viewed on our website at

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