People won’t stop judging you, but you can stop being hurt.
Have you ever experienced this situation: you want to share something dear to your heart, a success, a breakthrough, an insight, and people answer by being judgmental?
Do you sometimes wonder if you should stop sharing, even to friends and family? If you should protect yourself? Hiding is not the solution. But, understanding why and how people judge, and learn to break away from that, is!
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People’s Judgement Can Be Hurtful
It is amazing how quickly you can go from being excited and happy to share something (with the web community, with your family, with friends) to feeling confused and guilty because of other people’s comments.
You start second-guessing yourself, your actions, and your choices. You wonder if you did something wrong or if you should have kept your big news to yourself. You might try to tell yourself that you don’t care, but deep down, those judgments affect and hurt you.
Let me tell you, I’ve had my share of other people’s negative comments.
Just some thing that I’ve been through:
- we took our eldest son out of school after his first year.
- we quit our jobs.
- we bought an RV while knowing nothing about it.
- we left our house, our country, and families in order to travel for 4 years.
- we successfully home-schooled our children.
- we went to what close-minded people consider “shithole countries” like Iran.
- we traveled in the “dangerous, do not travel” states of Mexico.
- we let our children use tools and build fires.
- we taught diving to our kids.
- we taught them rock climbing.
As you can see, I’ve done things that are often harshly criticized by others! About that, you might also want to read this post about labels.
All those negative comments have affected me. Especially when they were about my children or my choices as a mother.
I can’t tell you what a relief and how huge was the freedom the day I freed myself from other people’s judgments!
The Path To Free Yourself From Others’ Judgments
As a licensed social worker, I have studied communication and I’m good at defusing complicated situations. I can tell people what it takes for them to calm down and stop being aggressive. From the outside, the problem seemed solved, but inside, the harm was done. Being a smart-ass doesn’t mean you don’t get affected.
Overcoming the grief caused by people’s opinions isn’t just about knowing how to answer (even if it’s satisfying), it’s about learning how remain unaffected.
This seems impossible, doesn’t it? Giving that we cannot control what other people think or say. We can’t stop them from expressing their opinion, no matter how wrong and hurtful we think they are.
Since you cannot decide what people think, a solution would be to withdraw from social media and tell your friends and family only what they want to hear. Following this road, you could also keep your opinions to yourself, not be a part of groups or communities and give up on any outwards indications of your convictions.
Are you ready to sacrifice your freewill to please others? Knowing that anyway, no matter what you do, they will always be something people will say about you?
A Tale About Others’ Judgments
The Man, the Boy, and the Donkey.
I’ve always thought there was a lot of wisdom in tales, so you will sometimes have the chance to discover or re-discover some of them in my posts.
For the original text and the audio, follow this link.
A Man and his son were once going with their Donkey to the market. As they were walking along by the animal’ side a countryman passed them and said:
“You fools, what is a Donkey for but to ride upon?”
So the Man put the Boy on the Donkey and they went on their way. But soon they passed a group of men, one of whom said:
“See that lazy youngster, he lets his father walk while he rides.”
So the Man ordered his Boy to get off and got on himself. But they hadn’t gone far when they passed two women, one of whom said to the other:
“Shame on that lazy lout to let his poor little son trudge along.”
Well, the man didn’t know what to do, but at last, he took his Boy up before him on the Donkey. By this time they had come to the town, and the passers-by began to jeer and point at them. The Man stopped and asked what they were scoffing at. The men said: “Aren’t you ashamed of yourself for overloading that poor donkey of yours and your hulking son?”
The Man and Boy got off and tried to think of what to do. They thought and they thought, till at last they cut down a pole, tied the donkey’s feet to it, and raised the pole and the donkey to their shoulders. They went along amid the laughter of all who met them till they came to Market Bridge, when the Donkey, getting one of his feet loose, kicked out and caused the Boy to drop his end of the pole. In the struggle, the Donkey fell over the bridge, and his fore-feet being tied together he was drowned.
“That will teach you,” said an old man who had followed them:
“Please all, and you will please none.”
How Do We React To People’s Judgments?
When trying to adapt to any situation, there are three attitudes we tend to adopt that are not helpful:
In this case, we try to avoid any situation where we might be judged. Avoidance isn’t an efficient strategy, no matter the situation. Going too far down this road might result in isolation and renouncement. The thing is, even when using this strategy, you end up being a victim of others’ opinions.
This option is about being in control of the situation. Someone might judge you, but you will fight back or use another controlling strategy like turning off the comments on your Instagram posts. Anything that will make you feel in control. The thing is, usually, trying to control results leads to the exact opposite. It is a fruitless loss of energy. Think of it: you spend your time being hurt, then reacting, then trying to control the situation, which ends up being criticized, which starts the loop again.
This is the result of the two first. After failing to avoid, then failing to control, you become convinced that you are not able to manage this situation. Not only others judge you and it hurts you, but now you start to believe that there is nothing that you can do about it, that you’re not ABLE to do anything about it, or worse, that you deserve their meanness. This is what we call the self-fulfilling prophecy.
As you might have guessed, those beliefs are harmful to your self-esteem and your self-confidence. This is a vicious circle since having lower self-esteem makes you more sensitive to others’ opinions!
It is important to protect our inner self and learn to free ourselves from others’ judgments.
As parents, we set an example for our children. OUR self-esteem is an important component of their development. They look up to us as models. They learn from us. So let’s study so they can benefit.
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Free Yourself From People’s Judgments
Step 1: Understand Others’ Minds
To understand why people act, why they speak, you can start by emotionally distancing yourself from their words. It doesn’t make sense that someone would attack you on your personal values or lifestyle. So what’s happening in their head?
We, humans, have a beautiful mind, but some things could be upgraded. Like our beliefs (again!). When a person holds a belief to be true, it has a stronghold in their thoughts. And, when you give that person a piece of information that contradicts this belief, it creates an awkwardness. We call that cognitive dissonance.
For example, if someone believes that school is mandatory and that without a traditional education you’ll get nothing out of life, they will believe that home-schooling is bad for children. And yet, those home-schooled children seem happy and smart. It doesn’t fit their belief: we call it cognitive dissonance.
Between what I think, what I want to say, what I believe I say, what I say, what you want to hear, what you believe you hear, what you hear, what you want to understand, what you think you understand, what you understand… There are ten possibilities that we might have some problems communicating. But let’s try anyway…
It is important to understand that everyone sees the world with their own eyes. All information we perceive goes through a process that includes all that we’ve experienced, lived, and learned.
So what I see is not what you see, what I hear is not what you hear. We all have those amazingly strong beliefs from our life, and many people aren’t aware of that. They think they are right because the message from their thoughts is so loud.
When somebody doesn’t understand you, you can reflect on how you transmitted your message. But, most importantly, you can accept that in their world, your message simply doesn’t fit.
Step 2: Accept What Cannot Be Changed
In step 1 we saw how everyone has their own vision of the world. So what’s the solution? The thing is, there is none. You can’t make someone change their mind or go against their beliefs, not if they don’t want to. You can tell a friend that smoking is bad for their health and yet they’ll keep smoking.
And yet, it is natural to want people to think like us. If you are passionate about something, you won’t understand why others can’t see how great it is. Because you are convinced, it blinds you. It is YOUR belief.
When facing an issue, most people will try to fix it by acting on the external world. In actuality, the solution is inside oneself: change what can be changed: yourself.
Let me illustrate this for you:
A king was walking in a mountain village. The ground was rocky, it made the king angry and he said: « I want you to kill all the cows of that village to make carpets to cover all the ground! ».
The elders of the village met and answered: « very well my lord, we will have to kill ten thousand cows in order to get enough leather to cover all the ground in the village. This will take ten years and then the lord will be satisfied ».
A jester then came to them and asked to speak with the king. The king agreed and thus spoke the jester: « My lord, why not kill one single cow, take its leather and use it to make yourself a pair of shoes? ».
That day, the king learned that it was wiser to change oneself rather than a whole village.
The change will have to come from you and not from the others. The good thing is if somebody believes they can change, they will.
Have you noticed how we are back, again, to beliefs? It might be time for a definition:
A belief is a generalization of an old experiment, who went into our subconscious and pops out automatically.
Fortunately, there is a beautiful way to change yourself and your beliefs, in order to free yourself: it is the second agreement as explained by Miguel Ruiz in his book The Four Agreements.
Step 3: Don’t Take Anything Personally
Maybe some of you know about the second agreement. Maybe you read the book, and most certainly, you thought it was wonderful but forgot about it because it was a new piece of information. And, by now, you know how people deal with new information: if it doesn’t fit their beliefs, there is a good chance they will reject it or not implement it.
But forewarned is forearmed right? I believe you will be more aware and able after learning about beliefs and how they work.
The second agreement says: Don’t Take Anything Personally. I know it might sound simple, but there is a lot more to it. First, you need to understand and accept that every person lives in their own conception of the world. This is not an idea peculiar to Ruiz, we find it as far back in history as Plato’s allegory of the cave (428-348 BC).
What is the connection with the second agreement?
If you agree with the fact that everyone leaves in their own world, then you can accept that what this person says isn’t about you, or your world, it’s about their world.
In our individualistic society we are taught that it’s all about “me”. Hence we feel responsible when somebody says something against us. We think we share some of the responsibility for their behavior/words.
This is giving ourselves too much importance. We are not responsible for others’ acts. They are responsible for themselves. We lack humility.
Every time somebody tells you something, and you let yourself being hurt, it means that you AGREE with what this person is saying. By doing so, you strengthen the belief that you deserve such treatment, your bad self-esteem becomes stronger.
People’s point of view is a result of their education, it has nothing to do with you. If somebody tells you that you’re fat, it is them who is confronted with their own beliefs, feelings, and opinions.
- When someone sends you poison, if you take it personally, you receive the poison.
- When you take things personally, you react by defending your own beliefs and this is the beginning of a fight.
- When you are hurt, it is not the words of the person who hurt you, but what it calls in you, your wounds. When you let people hurt you, you’re actually hurting yourself.
- When you, or anybody, react with anger, or envy or sadness, it all comes from fear. If you have no fear, if you have self-confidence, then nothing can touch you.
If you love yourself, you will be able to live in peace.
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You Can Now Start To Be Judgment-Proof
Congratulations, if you implement what you read here, you will be able to live a happier life without being hurt by what people think of you or say to you. This is definitely a great way of living.
I started to follow these steps over a year ago.
- Since then I started my own company to pursue my mission, which is to offer every child the best education possible
I started practicing Yoga.
I am more open with people, and less wary.
I dare to ask for help without fear of looking helpless.
I say what I think! I speak from my heart, I won’t lie or make excuses anymore, and I don’t fear the feedback anymore.
I’d say, this is a beautiful freedom.
Thanks for reading this article! As always, I hope it gave you some line of thoughts to explore as well as ideas to act and create a positive change in your life.
Don’t let the inspiration fades and take action right away:
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I wish you all the best with your kids, always remember that we all do the best we can at a given moment and don’t judge yourself harshly. Be confident and listen to your intuition. If what you do comes from a place of love, then you’re on the right path.
See you next week for another exciting article!
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