Judgments Destroy Relationships

At the heart of every tragic expression of an unmet need is a judgmental thought.

Behind every violent and abusive word we speak is a judgment. Even many statements that we think are harmless are actually emanating from a place of judgment, which makes them violent and offensive to the hearer.

She is always angry at me!

He is so selfish, and he doesn’t treat me fairly!

She is so controlling and manipulative!

What a liar!

When these evaluations come out and manifest as judgmental words, they become powerfully destructive forces against relationships.

We underestimate the power of judgments on our psyche and emotional well-being. Furthermore, we underestimate how detrimental judgments are to our relationships.

We all judge from a different place. Our unique perspectives inform our judgements.

You may be aware of the fact that people have different brain types, or temperaments. In fact, there are five variations of the human brain:

The Sanguine, Phlegmatic, Choleric, Melancholy, and Supine, are the five temperaments, and there are blendings of each of these.

These temperaments are inborn dispositions that stay with us for the entirety of our lives. Unlike personality, temperament does not change over time.

Due to inborn temperament, we all think differently, and our brains process data in different ways. We use unique mental structures coming from our temperament and its reaction to the environment we live in.

These factors influence the way we make decisions and determine our own strategies for getting our needs met.

When someone stands in the way of our own strategy, we make a judgment about them, and the expression of that judgment wreaks havoc on the relationship.

Having a Sanguine brain, I can tell you from experience that Sanguines have multiple thoughts and ideas in their heads at the same time, and they want to pursue many of them at any given time.

This kind of brain processes like confetti or fireworks going off, or like popcorn popping in a jiffy bag.

There is a lot of kinetic activity taking place all at once. They have an idea, and a reserve idea behind that idea, and another idea behind that idea, and so on.

Sanguines can have an attractive temperament because Sanguines are bubbly and fun-loving people, but they are in danger of being judged by others as being too enthusiastic, too impulsive, too emotional, too flaky, and demanding of others.

They often judge others as boring, distant, inconsiderate, and, ironically, judgemental.

Why is this the case? It happens because the behaviors and words of others often threaten the meeting of their needs.

We all judge others when we become disconnected from an understanding of our own needs, and instead, we focus on the judgement our brain is telling us to speak against others.

Somehow, we think that we have the right to decree that their action, or failure to act, is interfering with the meeting of our needs.

We actually don’t have any right to tell anyone what to think or do. Each person is autonomous and responsible for his or her own behaviors.

By judging, we forfeit our own decision to be happy. We ruin our contentment when we try to force others to meet our needs in the way of our choosing. This is called, strategizing.

Instead of strategizing and forcing people into a box of our own making, we could get in touch with our own feelings and needs and work together so that everyone’s needs are met in an amazing way.

Contrary to popular belief, this is not done through compromise but through sacrifice. Loving in a God-conscious way creates the mental structures which make it possible for everyone to receive from one another in love.

As we look at the other temperaments, the Phlegmatic mind is very much the opposite of the Sanguine. The thoughts of the Phlegmatic are running at a steady, unwavering speed like solid arrows.

They stay focused in one direction and resist any alteration or spontaneity. This means they are usually very calm, easy-going, practical, and realistic people.

The Phlegmatic is the most well-rounded temperament, but they are in constant danger of being judged by others as aloof, cold, uncaring, stubborn, and low energy.

This temperament has few demands on others but is not inclined to addressing the needs of others either.

They are the least likely to make judgemental statements about the people close to them, but when they do judge, they will typically accuse others of being demanding, smothering, and controlling.

The Choleric brain is a cross between a Sanguine and a Phlegmatic. They have an iron will, like the Phlegmatic, but they have very high energy, charisma, and optimism, like a Sanguine.

It’s the best of both worlds, but with the most dangerous repercussions when operating in their weaknesses.

Cholerics are often judged by others as being arrogant, bossy, cruel, and dismissive. They are driven by the need to dominate and accomplish tasks, usually by using others to do so.

They regularly judge others as weak, indecisive, incompetent, or inadequate in some way.

The Melancholy brain is in a category all its own. People who are Melancholies tend to be very cautious, responsible, and attentive, but they struggle to express their deep, tender feelings.

They live in constant fear of failure, or just looking like a failure. This is because they have very low self-esteem.

At their low points, they are often accused of having a victim complex, and they tend to distance themselves and become loners out of extreme paranoia, pessimism, and grudge-bearing.

Their introversion often leads to them being judged by others as arrogant, critical, self-centered, and moody.

They often judge others as impractical, disloyal, manipulative, and smothering.

The Melancholy will do anything in his or her power to rebel and resist the control of others, whether the controlling is really taking place or it exists only in their imagination.

Finally, the Supine temperament is a mix of the Melancholy and the Sanguine. The Supine brain has all the high kinetic energy of the Sanguine brain, without the ability to express it.

This unusual mixture results in someone who is extremely gentle, dependable, and caring.

Sadly, the Supine frequently gets caught into mental spirals that pull him or her into negative thought patterns, much like the Melancholy.

Supines are difficult to communicate with because of indirect behavior and words. They struggle to speak their minds, which frustrates themselves and the people around them.

They are often judged as fragile, victims, whiners, and pouters.

Their demanding nature is coming from a place of weakness which requires a high level of recognition, security, and emotional support from the people close to them.

They will judge others as hurtful, neglectful, and inconsiderate, especially if they feel hurt by something said to them.

Supines are known for neurotic behavior, meaning that they typically behave in a way that brings about the exact opposite response of whatever they want to happen.

For example, if they want to be treated kindly, they will act mean and abusive. If they want to be accepted, they will behave in ways that ensure they will be rejected and despised.

By harshly judging the people around them, Supines usually achieve the opposite of whatever they want.

The Solution

Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Mt 7:1, 2).

As we have discussed, we become judgmental toward others, and experience unhappiness and negative feelings, because we have not experienced the meeting of our own needs by the people around us.

Sadly, relationships are ended, and marriages fail because of this.

What we fail to see, however, is that all of us have fallen short of meeting needs in some way.

Since none of us have ever been the perfect spouse, we have no right to judge our spouse for the failure to meet needs. Since none of us have been the perfect friend, we have no right to judge our friends either.

Instead, we must become vulnerably honest and share what is alive in us, while eliciting what is alive in others by using empathic receiving.

Relationships fail because we are not honest with our own temperaments’ needs. We disconnect with the mercy and loving-kindness of God, and with ourselves, which leads us to judge, attack, and accuse for any number of failures.

We say things like, “You are inconsiderate”. “You are stubborn”. “You are arrogant”. “You are impatient!” “You are controlling!” “You are such a perfectionist!” And on and on it goes!

These are all tragic expressions of unmet needs. We could have started within ourselves and addressed the root of our feelings before lashing out and alienating ourselves from our relationships.

We also don’t understand how to use our anger. Instead of using anger to address the needs that are not being met, we react in a detrimental way and act out in rage, using hurtful words.

We ought to foster within ourselves a gratitude for seeing the anger within us, and within others, as an opportunity to peel back the onion and discover the need that is not being met.

Instead of creating conflict with corrupt communication, it befits us to speak in a way that “is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen (Eph 4:29).

Don’t correct and say, “you are wrong”. Say, “Thank you for sharing that with me”.

Don’t argue. Don’t defend your case. Don’t look for who is to blame and who is to shame. Simply listen and empathize with the person speaking to you.

Learn how to employ empathy in your daily language.

Your spouse may be arguing with you about a financial decision you made without consulting with her first. You could make an empathy guess like, “Are you are feeling frustrated that you are not being included in much of this decision-making process?”

It doesn’t even matter if you guessed correctly. In fact, it may be better to guess wrongly in many circumstances, because it elicits more information from the hurt people who want to be heard.

They may not know anything about what need is going unmet or why they are feeling so angry, but you can break through every judgment and come to understand the unspoken need.

This may sound very difficult because we are all so used to going into battle and waging war for power. We take punitive measures against someone in order to get the upper hand.

At the same time, this is not about letting others abuse us, or just agreeing with whatever is said to us for the sake of getting along.

The objective is to create structures of compassionate giving from the heart so that everyone may see their needs being met.

Eliminating judgments in yourself is difficult. Looking past the judgements coming from others in order to mend, restore and maintain relationships is even more difficult. Nevertheless, these things can be done!

Everyone is capable of changing their thinking and removing judgemental words from their vocabulary.

Understanding your own unique temperament, and the temperaments of the important people in your life, will help in reaching a better understanding of needs so that relationships can thrive. – Michael A. Hildreth

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