We've all been shamed and judged... more times than we may even know.
Sometimes, people show their judgment in an outright aggressive, direct way.
Sometimes, they're a bit more passive-aggressive.
Sometimes, they say something that just feels judgmental, even if it's not directed towards us or our particular situation.
Sometimes, we're not even sure if they're insulting us at all, but then we think about it later and wonder... were they intending to?
Sometimes, they just give off the vibe that they would judge or shame us if we were to reveal ourselves.
I have encountered judgment and shame from others very often in my life. I'm not the type of person / personality that fits "well" into the boxes of society - after being the perfect role model child and graduating from an Ivy League university, I "fell off the wagon" - I now have large visible tattoos, still don't have a defined career, am married to a man 15 years older than me, very into the occult arts, travel from country to country without a fixed home, have a fiercely small circle of close friends & family, feel detached from a lot of things & people in life... and am a bit defiant of many other little social / moral values and beliefs.
Even as a kid, I felt that my authentic self-expression was different than what was societally expected of me. So learning to feel more trust in my unique personality and overcome the judgment of other people has been a big theme in my life.
We as human beings naturally, subconsciously conform to expectations that will gain us the most approval and inclusion - it seems to be a helpful evolutionary advantage. We adopt the desires of others and may even come to mistake them as our own. We then follow a path and go deeper in it until it has become engrained in our identity to be that certain person. And breaking free from all of that subjects us to a tidal wave of judgment - both obvious and silent - of those around us.
I have found the most difficult area of "being different" to be the area of morality and beliefs. In my life, physical differences (tattoos, childhood experiences and memories, nomadic lifestyle, etc) have been accepted more than my belief / moral differences (political opinions, showing understanding towards "evil" occurrences, showing detachment towards issues that most people feel adamant about, etc).
Without a strong sense of self-trust, judgment and attacks from others can feel unbearable... we feel that we lose any sense of support in the world and feel placed in a disadvantageous spot in life. When we trust in our desires and innate core values, we automatically become leaders to other people to show them strength in a different perspective.
Because here is what I have come to realize as the truth: the true beliefs, thoughts, opinions, feelings, and values of others sit on a very wide spectrum. But many project something that looks "safe" in the eyes of others and may never come to reveal their true thoughts... even to themselves.
Knowing this, I have learned to analyze in myself:
1) What actually are my insecurities?
Knowing my own insecurities gives me the chance to be aware of them before someone else comes along to trigger them in me. I can feel embarrassed, angry, or resentful if I'm made aware of my triggers on the spot, in front of other people. As a very emotionally private person, I prefer to work through my psyche in my own space, rather than have it exposed to others. I also then get the chance to respond appropriately, from a place of more emotional balance so that I don't project my own pain onto other people.
It's easy to lie to myself in order to avoid the pain of feeling small, ashamed, inferior, and vulnerable. I really need to feel those feelings so that I'm honest to myself and can work on the root of the insecurity.
Example: "If I decide to be more opinionated, people might feel threatened and challenge me. And if I ever get into a fight with people, they would be able to attack me for not having accomplished much yet in X area of my life. So I better just shut up and get along with everyone."
2) Why am I judging myself?
I find that I am only scared of people's shame and judgment about a particular thing if I am judging myself for it. So why am I judging my own self?
Example: "I'm insecure about being seen as LAZY if I don't work my butt off. In my belief system, working a lot = good, relaxing a lot = bad. If I am not working, I see myself as a lazy sloth who then doesn't deserve good things in life."
3) How can I turn my self-judgment into self-adoration?
After figuring out what my judgment is towards myself and why, I have to shine a more positive light on the insecurity and actually believe it.
When I see the same trait in someone else and it looks positive, then I can feel that it can be a positive trait in me as well.
This is where watching movies / shows / reading books comes in and helps me a lot, if I can't find someone else in my life who wears the "trait" well.
Characters in books / shows are so... lovable! Especially when we are deep in the minds of a certain character, their traits become more forgiving, understandable, and admirable.
If I feel insecure about being a dogmatic know-it-all, I place myself in the shoes of Hermione Granger (Harry Potter), and the know-it-all insecurity becomes a strength of intelligence & wisdom. If I feel insecure about being lazy, I place myself in the shoes of Maria (The Sound of Music), and the lazy insecurity becomes a strength of free-spiritedness. These characters are just pure love in my eyes, so all their traits are also acceptable to me.
If I can successfully place myself in the shoes of another (fictional or not) and view my own traits in a positive light, then I have come to learn self-acceptance.
4) Why might people judge?
The overall answer is: people only judge in others what they judge or fear in themselves. The motivation behind their judgment may be a lack of understanding, jealousy, fear of being different, fear of being outshown. If people judge for me "being lazy", it only means that they do not give themselves the liberty to also be "lazy" (aka, "freespirited", "relaxed", "trusting of life," etc).
The more someone judges others, the more they judge themselves. I am learning overtime to stop internalizing people's judgments and feel compassion for their own self-judgment.
5) In response: use humor or ask questions.
After feeling more solid inside of ourselves about our vulnerable insecurities, we are then put to the test in the world: facing the judgment from other people. People may use many different ways, subtle or not, to project their own insecurities onto us.
A nice way to respond is to use humor. Make a joke of ourselves! Make a joke in general! In my personal experience, using humor has helped the people around me to also accept their own insecurities. Showing our self-esteem through humor really teaches other people how to accept themselves.
Or sometimes, we can ask what their viewpoint is on a certain topic. Bring it out in the open! We can then share our thoughts and be more direct.
Or, if people try to really attack... we can set a strong boundary and defend ourselves!
There's a great satisfaction that comes with accepting and loving who we are, and no one can ever take that away from us.
I hope this helps!
© Little Bo Piggy
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