Much Ado About Judgement

Ahhhh this old chestnut: judgement. It’s something all of us will most likely come up against sometime through our lives, no matter how saintly we are. Some judgement may actually be perceived judgement, and some judgement we cop is so glaringly obvious. If it is indeed there and not just perceived, it takes on many forms: it can be an off putting comment, it can be a passive aggressive remark, it can be cloaked as ‘advice’, or it can be silent. Whatever costume it’s wearing, and no matter who pummels it your way, it can be an uncomfy spot to be in.

I’m not so much talking about disagreements. Disagreements and difference of opinion is a natural and healthy part of relationships with others, and to be able to have a safe space with someone where you can engage in healthy debate and discourse is fine. It’s a crucial part of society as it pioneers change, but I feel like judgement is a lot more personal. Judgement involves a lot more, but at the same time a lot less.

Judgement, in my experience, involves others making assumptions about you. It involves others believing they know what is best for you as a peer. Judgement is sweeping statements. Judgement is receiving unwelcome advice. Judgement is thinking the worst of someone or something. Judgement is an unsafe. Judgement is an unintelligent way of reading a person or a situation. Judgement is thinking less of people. Judgement is smearing your experiences all over someone else without having the time or humility to hear another person out.

The one major thing I have learnt through my time mainly as a teenager and an adult is you legitimately are damned if you do, damned if you don’t. As a people pleaser (reforming, slowly!) this is a hard pill to swallow. Not everyone around you will agree with every choice or move you make, and that is okay, unicorns, it’s really okay.

It can be hard copping judgement, especially for an empath or a sensitive person. We tend to take it on instead of brushing it off (speaking from my prior experience!) but that’s not a healthy space to be in. When we are faced with judgement from others (it’s awful! I’m not discrediting that), we need to ask ourselves, why do I care what this person thinks of me and my choices? Am I putting my value in what that person thinks of me? What’s the reason that this tiny segment of life is taking up valuable brain space? Sometimes people are just plain socially unaware and rude, so we can’t help but feel a bit confronted, but we don’t need to let the icky feelings camp out in our heads.

In the realms of adulthood, everyone will have a different measuring device. You should do this by this age, you should do this before you have children, you should wait to do this until you have children, form your career before kids, vice versa, only date them if they tick these 3729 boxes, you must agree on everything but also it’s good and healthy to disagree on some things, oh and only drink in company and never EVER grab the first milk in the lineup at the supermarket. Everyone shares an exorbitant amount of experiences, and sometimes it can frustrating to see another person ‘making the same mistake as you’ even if they haven’t even made said mistake yet or have a plethora of different life experiences and ideals to you. If you have ever though along these lines about someone else and exhibit these Karen vibes, just chill, bae. Release that control, and understand that no two situations are exactly identical. We never know how life turns out, and quite frankly, it’s cute that we think we do!

If you’re on the receiving end of a unicorn named Karen (we love everyone here at All Eyes Up, and to be fair we have ALL been the unicorn named Karen at some point or will be, even if it was in private) there a few things I suggest you do. Maybe even a formula if you will, to guard your heart, mind and energy. I’ve stepped them out in true teacher format.

Listen before you respond

Sometimes we can already be on the defense, so just make sure you have listened to the other person properly before you become reactive. It’s possible people don’t always say what they mean, or are flippant with their words (which isn’t helpful, but it happens) so asking for clarification or asking them to elaborate can be a sure way that the other person explains their thinking or even edits it. It may not change your response or how it makes you feel but sometimes this triggers people to just have a rethink about their choice of words.

Don’t over explain – it’s none of their business if it isn’t affecting them

If the thing you are being judged for has nothing to do with the person judging you for it, I would say don’t give it too much airtime or explanation. Why is this person so concerned anyway? Are they a stakeholder in this issue? Honestly, I wouldn’t waste the breath/brain activity/thought process as it’s unlikely you will convince them that what you’re doing or thinking is the right thing for you. It will feel like you are talking to a brick wall. If you haven’t asked for the advice or guidance and it’s being handed out unsolicited and passive-aggressively, try to move the conversation along to a different subject. Stand firm and stoic!

Vacuum it all up

There are conversations I have had with people where I have left feeling so crumby and gross. It is happening less and less the older I get and the smaller my circle becomes as I’m selective who I am spending my time with, but it still happens from time to time and it’s an awful feeling. I can be a bit insular when this happens to me and feel like I ruminate on the conversation, so I have been trying to just vacuum it away on the odd occasions it has happened recently. A few ways to do this that I have found helpful for me is talking the situation through with a trusted person, writing it all down, or doing something I like doing (Kmart is exercise right?). Simple things but they save you from sitting with it and feeling like you’re being swallowed by quicksand. I’m quite a sensitive person so people’s words can really get to me, but I am finding if I do these three things, I am moving past the conversations more quickly and becoming more confident in my own beliefs and standpoints.

Armor up for future conversations

Do you have people in your life who just always exert a judgey undertone? They could be triggered when certain topics come up like money, religion, politics, parenting – all those things that you’re not meant to mention at a dinner party (and for good reason!). I have been practicing bracing myself. If I know I will be spending time with someone who has inadvertently judged me or my choices before, I just remind myself of this before I see them next. This reminder just gives me warning that the person may show similar behaviours as last time so just be ready. I hate getting caught off guard with judgement, so if I expect it in a sense, I won’t be surprised. The vacuum cleaner in my mind is already ready, and I can warn myself before I meet them to take the things that they say with a grain of salt.

I hope you don’t ever get judged unfairly for the choices you make for yourself and loved ones in your life, but know that you’re not alone if you do. As my grandma always says, ‘you can’t please everyone!’