Judgment Stack Overflow

Our judgment often leads us to disconnection and misunderstanding. However, when we start judging ourselves for being judgmental - we get in a heap of trouble!

Humans are a judgy lot. There I said it.

Recently, in a group coaching session, I was talking about Judgement. First, let me make the distinction between assessment and judgment. I consider assessment as a neutral thing that all of us humans need to do to live our life and work our work. This is not the judgment I am talking about. The judgment I am talking about is charged either negatively or positively. Statements like “She is always on time” or “She is never on time” are perhaps based on historic evidence, and yet we all know that the set of “her being on time” or “her being late” is most likely not a null set. So judgment, then, is an assessment with some sort of prediction or emotional charge. The thing is that when we are busy making judgments about others, what we are doing is making some assumptions. And those assumptions cause us to miss the experience and some related information. In coaching lingo, we are “listening to formulate an opinion” or “listening to resist” and not “listening to listen”. When we listen without our filters or judgments, the message is received, it is “acked”. No fault tolerance built in, no IP filtering, no DDoS mitigation, no classification, inspection, etc., etc. Just the message - received. In the presence of filters (judgments), we are not sure if the message is received, rejected, moved, modified, who knows….

Anyway, this was a discussion on judgment. As we were talking about our filters of judgment - it dawned on one of the participants that she was - wait for it - Judgy! Ok, so not a huge revelation here. We are all judgy at some time or the other. However, what happened next was the equivalent of a human brain stack overflow!! Because as soon as the realization hit, she started becoming judgy about the judgment. I could see the cognitive dissonance built - and the brain melt happen right in front of my eyes. I could see the recursive judgment. In a few seconds, it was all over. The brain heap was exhausted and the recursion spiral of depressive judgment ensued…..

How many times do we do this in life? We decide not to judge (over the selves of others), but then we realize that it may be an impossibility and so we find a new thing to get judgy about - we decide to be judgy about being judgy! When writing code, we understand how to avoid stack overflows - it's either a recursion gone wrong or just plain too many pushes and no pops!

I remember being in my teens, energetic, growing up and discovering new ideas. This was also a time when my mother and I were having some conflict. My mother was experiencing some health challenges at this time and I had nothing but judgement for her. I saw her as weak; I saw her as victim-y and using her illness as an excuse to not engage with my existential crisis! From my perspective, I was more important than my mother’s health. So - I was essentially not receiving any of her messages.

Years later, I started suffering from migraines as my mother did back then, and then, I was able to relate to her illness. Now I see her with compassion. However, my old friend's judgment also started showing up for me. Rather than focusing on getting better, I had been indulging in self-judgment, seeing myself as weak and a victim. Judgment of my mother helped absolutely nothing or no one, and neither did judging myself. Recursive judgment causes us a heap of trouble!

Most of us walk around judging one thing or another, one person or another. And to what end? Does it move things forward? Does it create something good? Or does it prevent creating something good such as connection, understanding and forward momentum?

So, remember to pop some of those judgments off your stack - clear the filters - receive clear messages (and process them AFTER receiving them). You may just end up creating some new connections and understanding.


In software, a stack is an array or list structure of function calls and parameters used in modern computer programming and CPU architecture. A stack overflow occurs if the call stack pointer exceeds the stack bound. When a program attempts to use more space than is available on the call stack (that is, when it attempts to access memory beyond the call stack’s bounds, which is essentially a buffer overflow), the stack is said to overflow, typically resulting in a program crash. Recursion is a technique involving the use of a function or algorithm that calls itself. An example of recursion would be factorial.

int factorial(unsigned int i)
if(i <= 1)
return 1;
return i * factorial(i - 1); <--recursion happened!!

If the recursion is non-terminating (i.o.w. goes no forever), it will result in a stack overflow.