You need to regularly make judgements in order to function in society. For example, if somebody comes along and promises you a miracle cure for addiction, you need to be able to judge their motives and the soundness of their claim. The problem is that many judgments are not only unnecessary, but they are also detrimental to the person in question. This not only refers to judgements these people make about others but also the judgements they make about themselves. If you want to enjoy a better life free from addiction, it will be necessary to become less judgemental.
The Dangers of Judging Others in Recovery
If you compare yourself too much to others in recovery, it can lead to a great deal of unnecessary suffering. It means that you are either going to see people as doing better or worse than you. If you believe that others are doing much better than you are then it can generate feelings of discouragement, which can be a drain on your motivation. If you believe you are doing better than others are, you can become overly confident and complacent.
The truth is that it is actually incredibly difficult to accurately assess the progress of others. The problem is that people who are actually struggling internally can fake a strong sobriety, and those who are doing well and are developing a high level of serenity may not feel the need to talk too much about themselves. You do not know what is going on inside the mind of other people, so your best judgements will be guesses at best.
The other problem with judging others is that it is often associated with stinking thinking. Schadenfruede refers to a type of judgemental thinking that involves enjoying hearing about the failures of others. Cynicism is also another type of judgemental thinking that would fall under the category of stinking thinking.
The Dangers of Judging Yourself Too Negatively in Recovery
It is usual for individuals to develop low self-esteem because of the process of addiction. This means that they can develop a high level of self-loathing that is experienced as an overly negative inner soundtrack with thoughts such as ‘I am no good’ or ‘I’m going to fail like always’. These self-judgements sap your motivation and can create a self-fulfilling prophecy; this is because by expecting to fail, you could create the conditions whereby you do fail.
How to Become Less Judgemental in Recovery
One way to become less judgemental about others in recovery is to stop comparing yourself to them. The only person you really need to compare yourself with is the person you were yesterday – if your life is improving over time, it is a definite sign that you are doing something correctly.
Another way in which you can become less judgemental is to understand how these thoughts often say more about you than the person you are judging. If you take an intense dislike to somebody because he or she is overly opinionated, it may be because this is a trait you hate in yourself. Therefore, instead of just allowing these judgements to take over your thinking, you can gain insight by trying to work out exactly what it is that is causing the thought – you will often be surprised by the answer if you are honest with yourself.
They way to become less judgemental about yourself is to start developing some self-compassion. This means changing the inner soundtrack in your mind to one that is less critical and more encouraging. This can be hard for some people to do, which is why practices such as loving kindness meditation can be a great help.