Thoughts

Why I am so worried about being judged

Who will you still judge today?

I grew up performing under great stress — both for education and personal life. And I felt good about myself those days.

How did I do it

When you judge another, you do not define them — you define yourself. I read it somewhere. But didn’t understand the real meaning of it until I was determined to stop worrying about other people judging me.

  • I told myself that I didn’t know the whole story behind how someone is behaving. Everyone has a background story and we only see a part of it (and that too with our own biases in perception). Since I don’t have all the information, I better refrain from judging. It helped me jumping to conclusions. And gave me a lot of mental bandwidth to think about the next step.
  • I gave an alternative explanation (sometimes even if imaginary). In psychology, this is called reframing. I call it ‘alternative storytelling’! (Who wants jargons from psychology!). Let me share a silly, and simple example (most judgments are far more complicated, isn’t it?). If my friend is wearing the same shirt from the last two days, perhaps s/he has two of the same shirt or perhaps I missed some days in between. Why judge or jump to a conclusion? I don’t know what happened. And if I am too curious, why not ask?
  • I replaced my earlier judgement with either the alternative story or a clarification. We judge when we don’t clarify — we just assumed instead. If my alternative story is not helping, why not just talk to my friend? And in the case of judging myself, why not self-talk to understand the real reasons? (The easiest person to cheat is myself, by the way.)
  • I decided to slow down before I stopped. I didn’t want to stop judging altogether, but to build momentum by dropping a few judgments. Once I felt better, it helped me progress towards stopping judging altogether. It took a few months but what a relief! What freedom!

Testing times

I started testing this out a few years ago.

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  • I stopped (really felt as if it vanished) worrying about being judged — this felt very powerful to me, personally.
  • I saved myself from unknowingly going into ‘micro versions’ of pity/victim mode. What I mean my micro versions is those little situations where you think you are not wallowing in your pity, they last for very short durations, and in general, you feel okay (not at all like a victim), but (a big but), a bunch of these micro self-pity moments adds up to a potentially big pity fest, without me realising. Once I caught these moments, reframed (told an alternative story), and replaced them in my mind, I felt so free!
  • I stopped feeding my inner critic and recognised my inner cheerleader. I stopped judging myself harshly and replaced it with a correct version of feedback. Not judging myself doesn’t mean I had a free card for every mistake — what it meant is to balance the criticism with the effort and do something about it than wallow in self-pity or creative excuses.
  • My self-esteem went upward — I felt strong.
  • I am repeating this because it is so powerful — I FELT FREE!

If you judge people, you have no time to love them. This includes yourself.

What to do today

Let me share what I will do and you decide about yourself.

Jeev Sahoo

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