I’ve said it before, in jest, haven’t you? I’m sure most of us, when we self-confidently push the envelope, have asserted that statement with humour and followed it with broken laughter or giggles.
Sometimes, it’s not funny. There are times we’re alone in our head, times we think or suspect we’re being unfairly assessed that can have big, nasty impact. What happens when we believe we’re amongst friends, and suddenly we feel judged? Actually, the bigger question becomes are we really being judged, or are we insecure and feeling out of our element, so we make the fatal mental leap? I’ve seen people turn this assumption inward – after all, you can’t confront it when you simply suspect it, so the only evidence becomes your own self-doubt.
Those can be troublesome and volatile times. That’s when the damage can happen…and it’s no laughing matter.
Human beings are social animals. Inclusion and acceptance give us a security of “place” and it’s very important to our psychological well-being to have that “place.” It’s good to have a place to stand – especially when you’re wobbly. (click to Tweet) Securing that “place” is the reason we sometimes, not me, but probably you (wink) do things under the influence of friends that you wouldn’t otherwise do.
Some people have a higher need for affiliation than others. Blessed and mental are those that don’t care what others think. However, many of us do care and the simple suspicion we’re being judged can work like a load of crap in our fertile imaginations. Suddenly, we’re off and farming all sorts of stories. I saw it happen recently to a friend AND because I had said something rather insensitive and direct to him minutes earlier, I assumed he was upset with ME!
Fortunately, I was feeling brave and safe and checked in with him. I don’t like to live with ambiguous assumptions driving my relationships; it’s too easy to get sideways. It turns out it was not me, it was the stories he was telling himself about people who may or may not have been looking down on him. There was no direct evidence people were judging him, but given the right circumstances and insecurities, it was rife for the taking. We’ve all been there.
I took my observation on the road where my hairstylist told me her industry can be mean and judgmental. She’s seen it happen often. Artists, who often have open and tender hearts, get stung routinely, especially by artists with closed calloused hearts. Hang your heads in shame, judgers; you know who you are! (click to Tweet) I’ve seen corporate newbies suffer from the affliction – often flinging themselves on the mercy of the dysfunctional team…heck, I’ve done it myself.
We’ve all heard “What other people think about you is none of your business.” We’ve also heard “Live and Let Live.” It isn’t as easy to do as it sounds. Coco Chanel said, “I don’t care what you think of me, I don’t think of you at all” which is a fine mantra, but you may have to be a sociopath to actually do it. What I do know is this:
We can hurt ourselves more with assumption-based stories than the most judgmental people can hurt us with their glaring eyes and empty hearts. (click to Tweet)
So, it’s a good idea to pump your brakes when you feel the familiar strangulation of your spirit. You know the feeling, the looming doubt and self-consciousness. Stop, ask yourself, “Is it me, or is it ME?” I can assure you it is. It doesn’t mean anyone is judging you, or if they are, that their assumptions are correct. As for me, I’ll continue to place my soul in the company of those who will not step upon it and hold to the adage of Mahatma Gandi:
Be Brave and Know You are Good,
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