The ‘j’ word is ‘judge’ and distances us from the ability to have compassion for self and others.

I’m not here to point the finger, but I do believe that all of us a judgemental from time to time, some more than others. It can be over petty things or associated with bigger issues. We’re quick to notice when others are judging us, but how often do we recognise when we are judging others?

To judge means to form an opinion or conclusion. In the context of human behaviour as opposed to the court room, this opinion is mostly biased and based on preconceived ideas or beliefs about someone or something. Therefore, the result of judging others is often an illusion because you never know the full picture.

There is nothing wrong with having an opinion about something, but notice whether there is a sense of righteousness about it. If there is, your opinion may be judgemental.

As a basic example, imagine yourself waiting in a really long line. You’ve been patient for 10 minutes waiting to be served. The line has barely moved and you’re trying to entertain your impatient and frustrated child to avoid him/ her making a scene. A woman walks straight to the front of the queue and receives immediate assistance. Your heart beats faster as anger kicks in and your mind silently screeches obscenities as you assume she’s jumped the queue. People begin fussing over the woman and as she turns you notice her face is bruised and nose is bleeding (yes, a little OTT), but what happens then?…. You let go of judging her as being rude for pushing in and you feel an internal shift. Your heart stops racing with anger; it has softened. That internal shift is compassion. As the bigger picture begins to present itself, you have compassion for the woman’s circumstances and refrain from judging her.

Not everyone needs to be bruised and battered to deserve your compassion, but bringing awareness to the fact that you NEVER know the full picture of someone else’s experience helps to minimise the likelihood of judging others. The only healthy way to respond is with kindness.

I often hear carers’ stories and the sadness felt from people judging them or their circumstances. And it hurts. You’re often left feeling belittled or not good enough and in defence, anger can be unleashed or you may shut down and avoid associating with anyone.

When all you’re seeking is compassion from your fellow neighbour, you may find yourself being judged by others. Just like the parent in the park judging you for your child’s behaviour or the family member who is quick to snarl at what you’re feeding or not feeding the person you care for. You may be left feeling upset or angry.

So how do you deal with this behaviour to prevent the hurt from digging too deep? How do you bounce back more resilient?

Very often your first reaction to others’ judgements of you is dependent on the body’s natural fight, flight or freeze response when it senses danger. For me, I’m likely to fight it. I’ll defend myself arguing and get myself worked up over the situation and the person. But there has been clear evidence time and time again – this does not resolve anything.

Here’s what does work:

5 steps to handle others judging you

  1. Take a few deep breaths. Deep breathing calms your nervous system leaving you better positioned to respond appropriately.
  2. Respond kindly. If you wish to confront the person, do so kindly. You are not obliged to explain or defend yourself, but you can say gently: “You may not completely understand my circumstances.”
  3. Be kind to yourself by not taking it personally. Easier said than done, but note to yourself the person you’re dealing with isn’t willing to see things from a different perspective. That’s their choice. It doesn’t make them right or wrong to have a different opinion. We all have free will.
  4. Turn to your support network. People sharing similar experiences are the greatest source of support. Reach out to them as they’re more likely to have compassion for your circumstances rather than judging you.
  5. Don’t give up. Dealing with the judgements of others is a work in progress, it’s not something that’ll cease. People will form their own opinions of you from the day you’re born until the day you die. It’s human nature; a defence mechanism for the ego’s survival to cover up our own shortcomings. Build your resilience armour by learning to handle it in a kind and gentle way.

Shift the focus from others’ opinions of you, to YOU feeling good about YOU. Feeling good about yourself involves learning not to take it personally and stop judging others and yourself. Often we can be our own worst enemy. Celebrate you are doing the best you can with the resources you have and when you are feeling challenged, seek support.

If you’re an Australian carer seeking support through counselling, please contact Carer Gateway


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