We judge others because that is our habit. Judgement is part of thinking and acting in the world. We continually have to make choices about what to do and we rely on our judgement to make those choices. Our judgement informs our choices so we cannot live with out judgement. If we see a lion, our survival depends our our judgement that tells us we are facing a dangerous predator. We do the same with other people. We pass judgements on them about whether they are friendly or ferocious. It is natural to pass judgements on people. However, our habit takes this natural tendency and turns it back on us. We end up using our judgements to prop up our egos.
Judging others and ourselves is how we reinforce our egos by identifying ways we are the same and different and better better worse than each other. Those comparisons give us a solid identity, which is more comfortable than wondering what we are. Even if that identity makes us feel horrible about ourselves at least we are sure we exist.
How we judge others is how we judge ourselves. We create or adopt a set of values and then judge how we measure up to those values. It is an insidious habit because even passing positive judgements implies the negative judgement. As we appreciate beauty, we fear ugliness. When we appreciate intelligence we fear stupidity. If we think we are better than some people, we fear we are worse than others. There is no end to the comparisons we can make.
If we find we are better than others, we falsely prop ourselves up. If we think we are worse than others we falsely put ourselves down. Eventually, when we find ourselves suffering, our judgements have turned on us. We can’t stop the habit, because we don’t see it as a problem with the judging, we only notice the results of the judgements.
If we notice our judgement habit, we can see what we are doing, become conscious of the habit and change it. If we can stop judging others and ourselves, we free ourselves from the trap of these judgements. Even if we can’t stop judging, by being aware of the dangers of habitual judging, we learn to doubt our judgements and reduce the power they have over us.