Judge Not lest ye be Judged

I have often wondered about the root causes of my anxiety. It is, of course, a very personal thing; it is difficult to explain to anyone why you feel worried or agitated. Sometimes I don’t even know the answer myself. For the past few weeks, I have been trying to reflect on my anxious moments to the best of my ability. I ask myself what I feel anxious about and also why. I am starting to identify a common denominator:   

I am afraid of being judged in a negative manner. 

I can’t really blame other people for my own issues. If I am hyper-sensitive or anxious, it’s not up to every person I meet to treat me with kid-gloves. I can’t exactly wear a sandwich-board declaring my problems with anxiety. It would be wonderful though if we could all reflect on the power of our words and actions and their capacity to cause harm, as well as good. It’s something I’m trying to work on myself because I would hate to think my actions would cause anyone undue stress. 

I think it’s fair to say that much of th lie problem lies with our predisposition as a society to be incredibly judgemental. This  absolutely doesn’t help anyone who is very sensitive to criticism or who is more prone to anxiety. 

Being judgemental is natural human behaviour. It’s second nature to us. Just because we might have an opinion about something or someone, however, doesn’t mean we have to express it. Say you don’t like a co-worker’s blouse. Is there really a need to verbalise your disdain for it to your friends over lunch? It seems utterly pointless, doesn’t it? Perhaps the only purpose this kind of idle gossip serves is to bond you and your friends closer to one another. And that’s the thing; a lot of friendships are formed that way. Hey, I’m not saying I’m innocent here either! Who doesn’t like a good bitching session every now and then? But I realise the potential harm these things can do. After all, if I were to find out that I was the butt of the joke or the topic of office gossip, I would be very upset. 

And that’s the thing; I am only too aware of how judgemental people can be because it’s a trait in myself that I need to work on. I also need to work on overcoming my fear of negative judgement. I know one can’t live life planning everything they do based on the opinions of others. That would be insane. Yet I often find those doubtful thoughts creeping in throughout the day: 

That’s too much makeup; they’ll think you love yourself. 

You can’t wear that; they’ll think you’re unprofessional. 

You can’t say that; they’ll think you’re weird! 

You should go to that event or they’ll think you’re being antisocial. 

For someone with anxiety, the fear that this way of thinking causes is seemingly insurmountable.

 I’m trying my best to overcome this fear. I tell myself that people will always be judgemental. It is as natural to us as breathing. And if someone does express something negative about me, I can’t control that. I cannot control the thoughts or opinions of others to that extent. I don’t want to. I have to be the best me and if someone doesn’t like it, that doesn’t mean I’ve done anything wrong. I’m learning that criticism is okay. My co-workers or friends might not like my hair, my clothes, my voice…whatever. It’s normal to harbour at least some negative opinions about those around us. I’m just trying to not be so afraid of these. 

I’m trying to teach my students to express negative judgement less often. Why do we seem to express negative judgement more than positive judgement? Is it so entertaining to us? And if so, what does that say about us? Why do we bitch and gossip and what’s worse, take pleasure in it? I guess I’ll never really be able to fully understand it myself. All I can do is be a better person by trying my best not to verbalise unnecessary negative opinions about others and to also refrain from letting these same opinions from others cause me stress. 

Piece of cake, right? πŸ™‚


23 thoughts on “Judge Not lest ye be Judged

  1. Eileen says:

    So with you on this one. I have the same struggle with anxiety and criticism. My thing is that I hate to disappoint people. So I wear myself out trying to please everyone. But like you I’m working on it. I’ve learned I simply can’t make everyone happy, especially at my own expense.

  2. 2gatherstones says:

    I am glad you are focusing on you. The honesty and feeling in your post is moving. Your students are lucky to have you to guide them. I never understood bonding with people over the hatred and condemnation of others, but tragically – I see it everywhere. You are so right, we do not need to β€œsay” everything we think and we certainly don’t need to think some of what we think.

  3. Erika Kind says:

    I hear you very well in this, Janey! Yes, people judge reflexively and mostly without even noticing (this includes my person too). But many are thoughtless in just saying what they think without considering if this could hurt the other one. We never know why someone is the way he or she is and why they are behaving the way they do. None of our business.
    I also understand your anxiety to be judged. I think we all have this but only in different degrees and depending on the situation we are in. That is when we put so much pressure on ourselves that we are restricted in ladling our full potential.

  4. pensitivity101 says:

    Glad you are putting yourself first. We gave up living our lives for other people many years ago. We couldn’t please everyone, and those we did took us terribly for granted, turning on us when we couldn’t drop everything immediately to comply with their latest demands.
    When we left Lincolnshire 3 years ago, we honestly thought there was something wrong with us as our ‘friends’ were obviously not. The boating community changed all that, and we are better for it, more comfortable with ourselves and who we are, not who people assume us to be, or for what they could gain by knowing us. If they don’t like us, that’s fine, it’s their perogative. It’s also their loss as they might be missing out on a ‘good read’ simply because of an unusual cover.
    Self analysis can be destructive, but it can also be constructive once you realise it is not YOU that has the problem, but other people and how they see you. Why should you try to fit into their parameters of life when yours are equally, if not more so, important.

    • janeybgood says:

      Very wise words, thank you! I am glad that you have realised all of this through experience. I am still learning but I’m getting there. I guess, deep down, I just have a desire to be liked. It shouldn’t matter though. The older I’m getting, the less I am caring though! Thanks for your comment 😊

  5. Britta says:

    That quote is everything! I’m also hyper-sensitive to others perceptions of me, and I’ve been actively working to put up boundaries to not mind others so much and to foster a healthy, positive atmosphere for myself.

    I’m living in an uncomfortable roommate situation right now, and I find myself making fun of my roommate frequently. Mostly to myself, but I recently had a friend visit me from my hometown, and spent way more time during her visit than I’d like to admit complaining about my roommate. But why? What good does it do to talk behind other people’s backs? It’s not nice and it doesn’t get us anywhere. I realized recently that making fun of my roommate is a coping mechanism I’ve developed to help with the discomfort of living with someone who I’ve struggled to understand and get along with. It doesn’t mean it’s right, though, and I’m certainly not proud of it. I’ve been trying hard to focus on myself instead of others, because it makes me feel happier AND more productive, and I’m trying my best to view this roommate situation as a means for me to grow by actively working towards focusing less on her and more on myself. I do think it’s human nature to judge others, but I also think it’s possible to develop a less judgmental mindset. It’s easier said than done sometimes, but worth it when trying to rise above excessively negative and judgmental attitudes.

    • janeybgood says:

      Such a great comment, Britta. I’m sorry about your roommate. I would find that situation very difficult myself. It certainly is healthier to focus on yourself and your own thoughts. It’s important that we have self-worth and confidence. I respect other people’s opinions of me but I’m becoming much better at not putting so much stock in them.
      It’s hard to be hyper-sensitive, isn’t it? I think that it makes us compassionate and kind though. Thanks so much for your comment and I hope you are not too badly affected by your roommate situation.

  6. Britta says:

    Thank you so much, Janey! It is hard. It’s especially hard, because I’m very perceptive (a sometimes wonderful and sometimes cumbersome aspect of being hyper-sensitive) and am very aware that my roommate takes my disinterest in her very personally. Thing is, when I show interest she becomes very needy, and I’ve let her talk my ear off for much too much time in the past, which is SUPER draining. I’m a helper by nature, so ignoring a needy person is tough for me to do, but I also know I need to do it for myself to stay healthy! I’m trying my best to see this as an opportunity for growth, and I remind myself frequently that this situation is temporary…but it’s still tough some days!

    Being hyper-sensitive does make us more compassionate and kind! Our kind are SO important in a world that has become so darn insensitive…but I agree that it’s sometimes very hard. I recently read that many Holocaust survivors were more sensitive types–because hyper-sensitive people tend to have richer inner worlds (making it much easier to “escape” from reality during terrible situations), and because hyper-sensitive people tend to have a greater understanding of the sanctity of life. A couple things to chew on when considering the benefits of sensitivity in an insensitive world. πŸ™‚

    • janeybgood says:

      Gah I wrote a reply to this and it disappeared πŸ™ˆ here goes again… basically I feel like people like us give of ourselves so much that we are just magnets for narcissists or people who are very self-involved.
      Your comment is fascinating. It’s lovely to look at the positives 😊

      • Britta says:

        Ah, I hate when that happens! Thanks for summing it up. πŸ™‚ Yes, you’re absolutely right! I’ve been working to cut some people out of my life who are very high up in the self-involved meter. It hasn’t been easy, but I feel so much happier focusing on fostering relationships with people who bring the best out of me!

        Have you heard of the term “Highly Sensitive Person”? The term was coined in the 90’s by psychologist Elaine Aron. There’s a book she wrote by the same name that has some interesting stuff about hyper sensitive people. The book itself is only okay (in my opinion), but if you’re interested in learning about more positive attributes of hyper sensitive people, I’d recommend looking into the term.

      • janeybgood says:

        I looked into this and ended up getting totally lost in reading about this term, thanks Britta! It explains so so much. I especially relate to the noise sensitivity πŸ™ˆ it really can be so difficult to live like this, but it has helped so much to read this because at least I know there are so many others like me (us!) thank you c

      • Britta says:

        You’re most welcome, Janey. Glad to hear you found it handy. I am SO sensitive to noise, too. I used to live in a row house where each house is built connected to each other. I would be able to hear my neighbors yelling in the next house over, and it would drive me nuts! Made it very hard to get to sleep at night. I agree, it does help knowing that other people experience the world similarily. Learning about and reading more into the term definitely changed my life for the better!

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