Have you heard the saying “What others think of me is not my business”?
This could be a very powerful statement if you’re in the zone to receive it. But usually, to receive it you already believe it to be true and worrying about what other people think of you is not your challenge.
So, if judgement is your pain this platitude will likely make you angry and this you’ll defend so receive and excuse but not apply.
For myself, worrying about what other people thought of me was something that really bothered me for a long time. I was hyper-aware of others and their ‘perception’ of me and I certainly modified my behaviour, the choices that I made and how I showed up in the world in response to this. Mostly I just wanted everyone to love me, so I was constantly trying to gauge how best to be received (and thus how best to behave based on my reception).
This does not happen so much (if at all) anymore for me, and with it a whole lot of anxiety and pressure disappeared. I can’t pinpoint exactly when it changed, but one day it was no longer a thing that plagued my headspace, my heartspace and my actions.
Here’s what I do know – Fear of judgement is a huge thing for many people.
The hard truth – if you have a fear or concern about other people’s judgement then you yourself judge. This is a big, true hard pill to swallow. YOU JUDGE.
You judge other people and think about them and the way they behave, and always, when you judge, you judge yourself the most harshly of all. Are you relating?
I grew up in a judgey household. It was ‘jokey’ judgement, made humorous so that it seemed less mean and controlling. Born from fear and insecurity the judgement was a way to take the focus away from how we felt about ourselves. All unconscious and implicit. From this I developed self-deprecating humour which was a jokey way to judge oneself (and others). And try to get others to counter validate and prove me wrong. To reassure me I was whole and good and loved. All unconscious and implicit.
The only thing that changed this was the inner work. To really know oneself, and love oneself and accept all – the light and the shadow – without judgement.
Mostly I judged things I didn’t know or understand. I grew up in a very safe and insular family in an isolated family environment, in a small community. I didn’t question if the way we did things was the right way – I just assumed that it was the only way and the best way because that’s how we did it. When people did things differently to us, it was easier to think they must be doing it wrong or to have a quiet chuckle about it because surely everyone knew the best way to do things? Even within our small community my family was really different to everyone else. I didn’t choose to believe everyone is different and that’s OK. I really wanted to just be the same – and loved and accepted. My own fear of judgement made it hard for me to really step out into my own purpose and share myself authentically with the world – at first I would feel physically nauseous every time I thought about the possible negative feedback (or any feedback).
Sometimes I chose not to have an opinion, especially on topics that polarised people. What I have loved about the last year is that there are huge, highly polarising things happening in the world and finding your voice in that is highly empowering. Moving from ‘not wanting to be judged’ to ‘not caring what others think of me’ has been a massive shift for me and this year it feels the most obvious. I can still care about people without being hurt by their opinions (even and especially when they are different to mine). I can still be a force for good in the world and not agree with everyone. In fact, if I truly want to serve I have to be prepared to speak my truth. To be real and true and authentic. And this is not possible when you care what people think. (And also, sidenote, they are hardly ever thinking what you think they’re thinking anyway).
I have found that the times we really grow the most are with people who really challenge us or who bring up our sh#&^t and make us actually look at what our judgements are about and how we are in the world because of this. I stayed in relationships too long because I didn’t want to be a single mother, then because I didn’t want to be a single mother with kids to different dads and then because even though I was that (a mother with kids to two different dads) I held onto a relationship because I still dreamed of the perfect family and it didn’t seem right to not sacrifice everything for that (even though he wasn’t prepared to do that nor did he want to be the recipient of my sacrificial love). When I stopped caring what it looked like and just cared about how I felt and how the world around me felt, I actually was able to create the kind of family I dreamed of. Without all the judgement.
The ‘easiest’ way to ditch the judgement is to remember who you are. Your true identity is the remedy here – the sweet-tasting medicine for the harsh judge. And this is entirely an inside job.
Start with space and time. An inventory of you, what you believe and what you value. What the greater vision for your life is. If you struggle to do this alone, reach out. There’s no judgement here x
Big loves xx
From the Vault – Other stories of mine you may be interested in