One of the patterns I have noticed in the couples I have been working with lately is that they engage in judgment and condemnation instead of expressing their feelings. The scenario typically goes like this: One partner does or says something hurtful to the other but the hurt one does not own his/her feelings neither communicates sensibly about them but choose to launch a judgmental attack.
For example, instead of saying: “When you spend so much time at work and with your friends and are exhausted and ready to fall asleep each time you come home I feel hurt and neglected, and not valued” they choose to say “You are so selfish! You are so insensitive!” The first comment gives the other partner the opportunity to honor the hurt person’s feelings and own their actions in the situation and apologize. The second comment is a judgment statement and often involves anger and contempt.
Judging and condemning are terribly powerful! They penetrate into the most vulnerable areas of our heart. They strike at the core of who we are. They hurt so deeply and separate.
Sometimes these reasons are also exactly why some choose to rely on it. However, the hurt one is sure to counterattack because being judged and condemned brings anger that will very likely escalate to contempt. This explains why condemnation as a strategy for helping someone to understand your perspective and change will fail every time.
The decision to neither give nor receive judgment and condemnation from the other is a freeing one. It can facilitate openness and vulnerability and transform relationships. If one does not want to damage relationships, it is critical to not lash out judgmentally but rather learn to express feeling when hurt.
– Give up anger and contempt – half of the battle is won here!
– Avoid wanting to be right – it creates distance!
– Avoid comparing yourself – that leads to judging!
– Be slow to anger – anger seeks to hurt and it leads often to condemn the other one!
– Choose to protect the relationship and respect your partner – it promotes closeness and togetherness!
– Remember judgment and condemnation is an attack – it’s an assault upon the one condemned!
– Choose to develop a spirit of grace and forgiveness – have the courage to express your feelings of hurt
Dr.Baya Mebarek, Psy.D.,LMFT