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I won’t be the judge of that!

Could releasing our judgement of others be the answer to a more peaceful, happier life? An increasingly self-aware Ali Roff confronts her issues surrounding blame and criticism

There’s something I don’t really want to admit to myself, let alone to the readers of a national magazine: sometimes, I judge people. There, I said it! But we all do this, don’t we? It’s a natural part of being a human being, and nothing to be ashamed about, assures Gabrielle Bernstein, named as a ‘new thought leader’ by Oprah Winfrey and author of Judgement Detox: Release The Beliefs That Hold You Back From Living A Better Life(Hay House, £12.99).

A few months ago, I met Bernstein for breakfast. She openly and honestly told me about her own judgements and, more importantly than that, how relinquishing them has changed her life, enormously, for the better. Bernstein has written a whole book on judgement, and yet the thought of even admitting mine to myself paralysed me. I listened to her, struck by her bravery, noticing how her face softened as she spoke of the inner harmony she has found – by removing judgement, she had found peace. ‘What I would love is for someone to try the Judgement Detox for themselves and tell their own story,’ she professed as we grabbed our coats. So, here I am, albeit nervously, telling mine.

Men in suits with briefcases – greedy and pompous; so-and-so at the office – all talk, no walk; family friend – anally retentive


My first task in the Detox was to identify my judgements. They started to emerge as I thought about it: men in expensive suits with briefcases – pompous and greedy; so-and-so at the o.ce – all talk, no walk; an old family friend – anally retentive. Things that I would never say out loud but, nevertheless, they appear like uninvited guests in my mind. Bernstein is clear that this first step of slowly beginning to acknowledge our judgements must be practised through the lens of observation, rather than yet more judgement. ‘Be proud of yourself for witnessing your judgement, rather than beating yourself up,’ she tells me. I can’t help but wonder, though, what harm does it really do to judge? Is it so bad? ‘Witnessing your judgement takes away its power,’ she explains. I know I’m holding one sizeable judgement against a woman who emotionally bullied me for the past eight years and, to be honest, my judgement of her feels justified. Unfortunately, we have mutual friends, and so whenever I hear her name, an internal dialogue begins to play on repeat – she is not a good person, she is selfish and narcissistic… She spread lies, damaged my property, socially isolated me and made me feel as if I was going mad. Surely I’m allowed to judge this bully? And what about those people who have had greater wrongs committed against them; those who have been abused, attacked for their race, religion or sexuality? Is it even possible, for example, for a woman not to judge her rapist, or for a family not to condemn and judge the murderer of their child? Where does the line sit for these more complicated moral judgements?

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About Psychologies

When we change our minds, we change our lives. This issue explores what happens when we do just this. What if you didn’t resign from a job, but could change the way you feel about it? Or what about finding a new way to open up to love? Or, what happens when we challenge the judgements we make about ourselves and each other? Read the astonishing life-changing effects of what happens when you think differently.   Change doesn’t always feel positive - you're made redundant, or your relationship breaks down, or we lose someone we love. And it's awful. Yes, we don’t always have control over what happens out there, but we always have control over how we react to it. This issue explores how to change our perspective to create the world we want.