Why Am I Being Judgmental?

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated October 12, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Have you ever wondered if you’re being too judgmental? Or perhaps you recognize that you are judgmental and you’re searching for the reasons why this is the case.

It’s common to judge, and it may part of how we learn, grow, and make just about any decision on a daily basis. However, judging is often thought to be something different from being judgmental. Being judgmental often implies judging excessively to the point that it negatively affects your happiness and that of the people around you. 

Read on to learn more about why we can all be judgmental at times and how we can change for the better.

Are You Getting Frustrated By Your Own Judgemental Thoughts?

Why We Can All Be Judgmental At Times

From time to time, we all find ourselves feeling judgmental of others for their actions or our perceptions of their actions. Some people define being judgmental as having harsh opinions or ideas, and these perceptions are sometimes based on our own experiences or our own failings.

When we make judgments based upon our experiences, our feelings, or our own failings, we are sometimes projecting onto others those things we find least desirable in ourselves. Often, the words we say about others are what we may actually feel about ourselves.

Projecting our own failings and insecurities onto others, especially those closest to us, can harm those relationships and lead to unnecessary conflict and dysfunction.

According to pioneering psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, projection can be a common defense mechanism employed to avoid discomfort to our psyches. This is a simple and partial version of Freud's theory. Some researchers suggest that an individual's recognition of negative traits is not within that individual's awareness. Rather, the projection is a means by which the individual acts out personal aggression on a more desirable target.


When individuals want something intensely for themselves, whether a new job, a promotion, a new car, or a home, and this is achieved by someone else, there is a tendency to put down these opportunities for the one who has achieved them. When we pass judgment, we are often passing off our own insecurities, fears, and disappointments onto others. It can be uncomfortable both for the one doing the judging and for those being judged. This type of behavior can harm friendships and cause conflict in personal as well as professional relationships.

Other Reasons For Being Judgmental

While projection stemming from insecurity can be a common reason for an excessively judgmental mentality, it may not be the only reason.

Below are some reasons why you or someone you know may find themselves grappling with a judgmental outlook.

Childhood Learning

We are social creatures, and we are often mimetic. For good and for bad, we tend to absorb and imitate the behaviors we see as children. If you grow up in a household with people, especially parent figures, who are judgmental, that attitude may be passed on to you.

Feelings Of Inadequacy

As with projection, feelings of inadequacy tend to be closely related to insecurity, as are many reasons for a judgmental mentality. If someone feels inadequate about something, they may be more likely to mock or belittle others who have a healthier—or simply different—approach. For example, someone who knows deep down that they don’t eat in a healthy way may be highly critical of someone who eats healthfully.

Feeling Trapped

People who feel trapped may perceive that they are backed into a corner, and this can lead to aggression. They may resent people who are doing things that they cannot picture themselves doing. For example, a stay-at-home mom with young kids may resent a young person who is traveling the world.

Different Standards

Whatever the reason, whether it’s a religious upbringing, a disadvantaged childhood, or simply a matter of a different temperament, people are sometimes critical of things they can’t personally accept. Someone may criticize young people for dressing a certain way simply because, in their eyes, it isn’t appropriate.


Envy can be a common cause of passing unnecessary judgment. Someone who secretly wants to get married may denigrate the entire idea of marriage simply because of envy.


Having different standards, a different upbringing, etc. is prone to give us certain biases. We then perceive our own way of thinking about the world as the only one that matters, or the one that matters most. For example, this may lead a dog lover in the U.S. to pass judgment on certain cultures for eating dogs while failing to recognize the hypocrisy of eating other animals.

Are You Getting Frustrated By Your Own Judgemental Thoughts?

How To Become Less Judgmental

If you believe you may be judgmental at times, you might try the following strategies for becoming less judgmental:

Work On Self-Awareness

Taking stock of our own biases, limitations, and negative emotions may help us limit our judgment of others. One tool that can be useful in this regard is meditation. Simply spending time quietly reflecting on your thoughts and why you have them may greatly improve self-awareness.

Recognize What Causes Your Negative Judgments

There may be certain things that frequently cause a surge of negativity. If you can recognize what these are and reflect on why they bother you so much, it may greatly help you understand—and work to diminish—your judgmental mindset.

Work On Empathy

Empathy is about putting yourself in another person’s shoes. If you actively practice empathy, you may reduce your impulse to pass negative judgments. Generally trying to see and understand the humanity of others may help to diminish a judgmental mindset.

Expand Your Horizons

Whether through traveling or simply expanding your social circle, getting outside of your daily routine may increase your empathy and limit any biases you have.

Connect With A Therapist 

If you feel that you could benefit from discussing a judgmental mindset or any other challenges you may be facing, speaking with a licensed counselor may be the right move for you. If you don’t like the idea of visiting a therapist’s office, you might try online therapy, which many studies have shown to be as effective as in-office therapy. 

You can find a counselor who’s right for you through a convenient online therapy platform, where you can meet with a therapist at a time that works with your schedule. With BetterHelp, you can connect with a therapist via phone, live chat, or videoconferencing—or a combination of all three options. You can also contact your therapist at any time via in-app messaging, and they’ll get back to you as soon as they can.


If you think you may be judgmental at times, know that you are not alone. Everyone can be judgmental in certain situations, but it’s something that can be addressed. You may find it helpful to work on self-awareness, question any biases you have, and continue expanding your horizons. You might also consider speaking with a licensed counselor. With online counseling, you can be matched with a therapist who has experience with your specific concerns and connect with them from the comfort of your own home. Take the first step toward personal growth in this area and reach out to BetterHelp today.

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