Questions 25 & 26

BJ - Being Judgmental

Using our judgment and being judgmental have critical differences. Discerning right from wrong requires judgment. Being Judgmental loads another factor on to judging. Being Judgmental proposes to establish whether a person is worthy or valid. This coping mode requires that one presume some degree of moral or tactical superiority. The presumption of superiority suggests the source of the compensatory behavior. Being Judgmental forms in opposition to the misguided idea of possibly being inherently unworthy, guilty or inferior. In other words, practitioners of Being Judgmental are anxious about being proved somehow defective or shameful.

This may be hard to swallow for those who regularly practice the coping mechanism. The coping mode is readily normalized in a social setting that encourages being classy rather than ill-bred, being rich rather than poor and being well informed rather than unaware. The practitioner of this mode might argue: “How could someone possibly be harmed by being right or superior?”

Those who fail to meet the valued status are covertly condemned. There is indeed a subtle punitive element in the practice of Being Judgmental. A critical comment, for instance, from a person who practices this coping mode characteristically fails to motivate or inspire. The judgment is not meant to be constructive; it is meant to prevent the loss of a valued status.

The intention in Being Judgmental is primarily to validate oneself. The conditional assumption associated with the mode is: If I am right, then I am OK. However, if I am not right, then I am not OK. In this instance being OK would suggest that one is indeed superior, moral or worthy. Consequently, this coping mode may cluster with other compensatory modes like Being Innocent or Getting Back.

People rely on this coping mechanism in varying degrees.

In the most extreme cases the judgmental behavior is compulsive or ritualized. Constant judgmental criticism is used to protect against the possible surfacing of anxiety. In this case the person thinks: If I can remain constantly right, then I’ll be OK. Thus, the ritualized behavior serves as a safeguard. The more common use of Being Judgmental does not reach this level of dependence on the mechanism.

The cost of practicing Being Judgmental can be personal and interpersonal. At the personal level it perpetuates the underlying fear that drives the activity. The practice promotes worry or generalized anxiety. Practitioners are trapped in the dichotomous terms of the mode’s conditional assumption. Either one is blameless or guilty, worthy or forsaken, commendable or contemptuous.

At the interpersonal level the coping mode fails to contribute constructive input. Finding fault in order to feel righteous is the standard agenda during a dispute. Problem solving and collaboration with partners or associates can be seriously obstructed. The practitioner of Being Judgmental tends toward chronic defensiveness and tends to forgive grudgingly.


Record your answers to the following questions in your JOURNAL:

This Compensatory Mode is active in my life. The evidence that confirms this is as follows:

This Compensation Mode is not active in my life. The evidence that refutes this is as follows:

Back to Over-Compensation Questionnaire