counseling, psychology, self-help

Are You Judgmental? Or Do You Fear Being Judged? The Misery that Arises from Both Sides of the Judgement Coin.

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Nobody cares what you think.

Alright.  That might sound a little harsh. Let me roll it back a little bit.  I will be fair here. Maybe a few people do–hopefully your parents do. And your kids if you have them. Your partner. And possible a few people in your inner circle of close family and friends.
But for everyone else you come in contact with? They don’t care.

I personally find this truism very liberating.  There is such freedom in realizing no one cares what you think. Most people spend their days thinking about themselves, not the other people around them.

In general, people feel what they feel, think what they think, do what they do. Nothing you say will likely get anyone to change their mind. Have you ever read someone’s political post or read a comment that you disagreed with and thought, “Hmm they ARE right, I am going to change my mind.” That would be the anomaly not the norm. People tend to be pretty entrenched in their opinions especially the older they get. There is a reason for the saying it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks! The truth is most people are not moved by the opinions of others, particularly, if they have a strong sense of themselves and their own values.

The reason I felt this topic was important to write about is as a therapist, I have seen people who are so CONSUMED by what other people think, it inhibits their life.

As a clinician, I have heard time and time again, “Well, what would they think?” The answer is WHATEVER it IS, it doesn’t matter because in all likelihood whatever they (whoever “they” are) thinks will be forgotten about quickly. Most people do not have the time in the day to spend thinking about you, your mistakes, your choices. Human nature being what it is-people are egocentric.

For some of us, this is just a given. But for others, who struggle with worries about what other people think, this is something they may need to hear.

It is our OWN egocentrism in thinking people are that concerned with us and are paying THAT close of attention to our lives. Yet this is a common presenting problem I see that brings people into counseling. Many people, across all age groups, struggle with worrying about what other people think of them.

At certain times in our life, this is normal. Being worried about what other people think is developmentally appropriate during adolescence when we are in the stage of having an “imaginary audience” where one thinks other people are paying close attention to him or her and watching their every move closely.

However, as you mature, if you still continue to think that other people are paying that close of attention to you-you may be stuck in an adolescent stage of development. During adolescence it is also normal to have a “personal fable” where one thinks they are unique and special. But this egocentrism is supposed to be a stage we develop and mature out of. It is appropriate when you are 15 to have a personal fable with its corollary the imaginary audience, but it is not appropriate when you are 35.

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Realizing this, we need not let ourselves be consumed by the opinions of others, as they really aren’t paying that close attention to us in the first place.

If there is in fact someone out there fixating on you and your life, that is unhealthy. Unhealthy for them, not you! (unless of course the person in question is a celebrity or politician or some public figure–I follow the news on some of these folks closely myself!)

But this is good news–knowing that other people do not care what you think should bring a sense of relief. Realizing this should help you become comfortable with not caring what other people think either.

Now when I say you shouldn’t care with what other people think, I don’t mean you should be rude. Or impolite. Or inconsiderate. Or disrespectful. What it means is you should live your life according to YOU. And your values. Without worrying about how other people will react to your decisions and choices.

It is just not psychologically or emotionally healthy to live your life for the approval and validation of others.

I have seen so many people who live in fear of what other people think–prisoners of their own making. It is a recipe for misery.

I often find these same people who fear others’ judgement are the same people who judge others the MOST.

We all struggle with being judgmental to a certain extent from time to time. Judging is just so easy, it is the path of least resistance. We judge everything we can about other people: how they look, their politics, their bodies, their Facebook posts, career choices, parenting choices, choice of partner. We may judge so much it can become a way of life for us.

But I need to tell you something.

It is a big waste of time.

Not only do most other people not care about your judgments, being judgmental makes YOU miserable. Not the person you are judging.

Other people’s judgments really do say more about them than the person they are judging. Most people tend to use our own metrics (biased in favor of themselves of course) to judge others.

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It explains:

~Why married people tend to think marriage is preferable to being single

~Why single people think being single is preferable to being married

~Why people who are parents think it is better than people who choose not to have kids

~Why people who choose not have kids think it is better than people who choose to become parents

~Why stay-at-home moms think they are better mothers than moms who work

~Why working moms think they are better mothers than moms who stay-at-home

~Why people in the private sector think their work is a better choice than people who work in the public sector

~Why people in the public sector think it is a better choice than people who work in the private sector

Get the gist? 

Notice our judgments tend to validate our own life choices.

When we judge, we get an instant hit of self-righteousness.  It is basically us congratulating ourselves for our great choices (and remember, this isn’t other people congratulating us, this is us patting ourselves on the back).

But the more we judge, the less tolerant we become.

The less tolerant we become, the more conflict we will have with other people.

The more conflict we have in our lives the more miserable we will be.

I write this with the hope that if you are someone who is so consumed with the worries of what other people think, that you gently realize, most people are caught up in the things going on in their own lives. That you should lighten up and live as you please without the fear of what other people will think. We humans are very egocentric beings. People are worried about hiding their own imperfections from the world, not focusing on yours.

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And if you find you have developed the habit of judging, and you have a lot of anger in your heart, you would do well to seek support. Being judgmental keeps others at a distance and creates misery for you and others–most of all you!

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