So many of us are afraid of judgment or criticism from others. We hold ourselves back from doing great things in our lives for fear of being judged. judgment from friends, family, spouses, even complete strangers? Why do we feel judged? Most of the time it’s a story we make up in our heads based on our insecurities. But what about when they actually say it? What do you do?
In this podcast, we will address what judgment and criticism are, and what to do when you do feel you are being judged by others.
I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts the other day and the person being interviewed said her mom used to tell her when she felt she was being judged that “People don’t actually think about you as much as you think they do.” Which is so true. But…if you are feeling judged, this episode is for you. So let’s get started.
I have a lot of clients that feel judged by other people. They feel judged by their spouse, they feel judged by their family, parents, and in-laws, they feel judged by their neighbors, they feel judged by people at church.
They feel judged for a variety of reasons:
- On their parenting
- On their appearance
- On their situation in life
- On their education
- On their possessions or lack of them
- On how they spend their time
- and for a variety of other things
For example – I have many clients and friends who feel judged for being divorced, especially at church. That there is a stigma around divorce and they constantly feel that judgment from others because of it.
Can I tell you that I have never once felt that way. How can so many say and feel that there is a stigma around divorce at church and they constantly feel judged for being divorced and yet I have never felt that way? How can that be….
And what I want to offer to you today is that the reason you are feeling judged (because judged is a FEELING) is because of your thoughts and insecurities around that particular topic.
I personally have never been insecure about being divorced. Now – I have felt plenty insecure about a lot of other things, but being divorced isn’t one of them. I have always been completely confident in my decision to divorce my first husband. Does that mean that no one has ever judged me for it? Probably not. But I didn’t FEEL judged because I wasn’t thinking thoughts that would create that feeling in me.
So – the pattern that I see with myself and with my friends and clients is that we most often we feel judged for the things we are most insecure about. When we are feeling judged or criticized it’s the voice in our head saying we aren’t enough, or there is something wrong with us.
Judgment in our Model
So let’s fill out our CTFAR model on this.
C: Lady at church says something about “divorce” (which is kind of a vague circumstance, but we’ll go with it for example purposes)
T: (Our thought can be a variety of things like “maybe she’s right”, or “something is wrong with me”)
A: We examine our life and what she is judging to make sure we measure up
R: We judge ourselves
What????? Isn’t that fascinating? We feel judged and we end up judging ourselves. Crazy right!
,Now remember, our circumstance is always neutral. The lady in church is allowed to say and do anything she wants, but it’s our thoughts that give it meaning.
What IF she was trying to criticize you? What if? Remember that is HER thoughts. And she can think or say whatever she wants. It really has nothing to do with you. It has to do with her.
I always like to go to aplace of compassion for that person. How sad for her that she chooses to think those kind of thoughts. I’m sure it doesn’t feel good to think negative thoughts about people all the time.
Judgment from our spouse
Now let’s take a look at being judged by our spouse. Again, I believe that most of that feeling of judgment is because we are insecure about things. Maybe our appearance or our parenting or how we keep house?
Our spouse has a front row seat to all of our inadequacies, flaws, and insecurities. A lot of times we tell ourselves stories about what our spouse is thinking about us without them ever saying a word. Instead of choosing to believe that our spouse is thinking good things about us, our brain offers us thoughts like
- He thinks I’m fat
- He doesn’t think I’m a good mom
- He doesn’t think I do a good job keep up with the house
Again – those are all a story you are telling yourself and you can purposely choose to think that your spouse feels differently.
But what if they say it – out loud. What if they say things like
- The house is a mess
- Why isn’t dinner ready?
- You should have done that differently
Most of the time that is your spouse revealing their manual for you (and if you don’t know what a manual is, check out episode 39). They have a set of rules and ways they think you need to operate in order for them to be happy. But it actually has NOTHING to do with you. Again – it’s about them.
So when they say those things, you can choose to take it personally. To feel judged (because remember, what they say is actually neutral), and it’s just more evidence to judge yourself by. OR you can do something completely different.
Have you ever tried agreeing with them? Instead of feeling judged or getting defensive – maybe just agree with them.
If your spouse says “Hey, the house is a disaster” instead of feeling judged you can say “Totally – somebody should do something about that” or “It totally is – I just didn’t get to it today.” Did you know that was an option?
Recently, someone I love told me that I act like a victim. I did NOT like hearing that. I felt very judged. But when I took a step back and examined some things, I realized that I often do act like a victim in certain situations. So my response was “You’re right…sometimes I do. I’ll keep working on that.”
Now – what about self-judgment. Self-judgment comes from thinking we should be different than we are. It’s those pesky thoughts in our brain. It’s our manual for ourself.
Now, there is nothing wrong with noticing something about yourself that you don’t like and want to change, like I did with being a victim. But that doesn’t mean you should beat yourself up for it. Change NEVER comes from judgment or making ourselves feel bad. Change comes from love, compassion, and realizing that we are of worth no matter what.
Fear of judgment
I see a lot in clients, friends, teenagers, and my own kids holding back from doing something or being who they truly are for fear of being judged by others. Judged by “the crowd.”
When I was serving in the Young Women (an organization serving young women from 12-18 in my church) I would hear from them a lot about being afraid to do something because “THEY” will judge me.
This is totally normal. It’s something we all do. This FEAR of judgment holds us back. But remember, feeling judged is just a feeling. It’s definitely a negative emotion and it doesn’t feel good. But feelings can’t actually hurt us. FEAR is also a feeling that can’t hurt us. Does it feel good? No! But avoiding negative feelings and living a life that is “Less Than” so that you won’t be who you truly are doesn’t feel very good either.
I encourage you to FEEL your FEELINGS. When you get really good at feeling your feelings and you are willing to feel ANY emotions – you are pretty much unstoppable. When you learn to feel your feelings, just sit with them, and let them process, rather than resisting them or avoiding them, they just aren’t that big of a deal and they move through your body a lot faster.
How do I not judge other people?
So what if you are the one that is judging others. We all do it. It’s totally normal. Our brain is always looking for evidence that we are ok and that we are fitting into our world. And sometimes it’s a good thing to judge others.
On LDS.org in the Gospel Topics on Judging Others it says:
“Judgment is an important use of our agency and requires great care, especially when we make judgments about other people. All our judgments must be guided by righteous standards. Only God, who knows each individual’s heart, can make final judgments of individuals.”
It goes on to say “Sometimes people feel that it is wrong to judge others in any way. While it is true that we should not condemn others or judge them unrighteously, we will need to make judgments of ideas, situations, and people throughout our lives.
Sometimes we focus on others’ faults when we should instead be working to improve ourselves.
Our righteous judgments about others can provide needed guidance for them and, in some cases, protection for us and our families. We should approach any such judgment with care and compassion. As much as we can, we should judge people’s situations rather than judging the people themselves. Whenever possible, we should refrain from making judgments until we have an adequate knowledge of the facts. And we should always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, who can guide our decisions.”
I really like the part that if we are to judge others it should be with care and compassion. Isn’t that always the answer – Love and Compassion? When I find myself judging others I really try to catch myself and turn it around. What can I love about them? Can I give them a sincere compliment? We all have our flaws – how can I see the good in someone else?