How To Handle Judgment

boundaries communication emotional health fear of vulnerability mental health trust Jan 28, 2022

When someone judges us, it typically has nothing to actually do with us. Regardless, we usually end up taking on that judgment, shame, and guilt as a reflection of ourselves. When someone judges us, we start judging ourselves.  

If we are guarded, we don't want people to see the real, raw, and vulnerable version of us. We don't want to expose the vulnerability inside of ourselves out of fear. However, showing people that side of ourselves is important in order for us to develop those deep connections. When we have a fear of letting people in, we fear that we are going to be hurt or that we are giving that person power over us; we fear trusting that person and having them use our vulnerabilities against us or judge us for them. However, we need to give those opportunities to be vulnerable. These situations give us a good opportunity to practice self-parenting and look deeper into what wound is triggering us. If we remain closed off and guarded, we are not giving ourselves those chances to practice self-love, self-parenting, and to heal ourselves. We are also not able to practice keeping our own power and deflecting someone's issues off of us. 

There are those people out there who will judge you and who will try to manipulate you. But there is more going on there; there is a deeper reason as to why they are judging you. Someone could be judging you as a form of projection, guilt, and shame. And if you come across someone that uses your vulnerabilities against you or becomes abusive, then they need to leave your life.  If we expose ourselves and someone rejects us or abandons us, it will hurt. But then you will figure out who they are and their place in your life. 

Not every person in your life is supposed to be those you have that deep connection with. There can be people in your life who are light and fun, and then those that you can connect with on a deeper level. People come into your life at different times for different reasons. If you aren't able to expose yourself, then you'll never learn why that person is in your life. 

Unfortunately, we don't only have to worry about judgment from other people, but judgment from ourselves too. A lot of us will use self-judgment as a way to protect ourselves. We can do this to either lessen the potential criticism from other people or protect ourselves from the pain of failure. There are several other reasons as to why we can judge ourselves:

  • Our ideal image versus reality
    • We have this image of who we want or need to be, and anything short of that image is a failure.
  • Our self worth is based on our success
    • We pull our value and self-worth from our accomplishments and successes. So when we hit an inevitable failure or difficulty, we take that as a reflection of who we are as a person.
  • Low self-esteem
    • We don't feel that we are good enough. Much of this can stem from childhood where we had difficulty pleasing our parents or were always compared to more accomplished siblings/children. We have this drive and belief that we need to be perfect in order to be lovable. 
  • To motivate ourselves
    • Though it seems counterintuitive (and it is), there is a strong belief that arose in childhood that if we beat ourselves up, we will do better. This can happen when children were "bad" or failed, so they were punished and then expected to improve and succeed the next time. The most common example of this is failing a test. You tried and failed a math test, so as punishment you lost a weekend with friends, your phone, or some other privilege. And you either lost these privileges for the weekend or until you passed the next test. Does taking away friends or the phone suddenly make you learn math or change the past grade? No. Regardless if these were justified (taking away distractions), the cycle expectation is the same. Failure, punishment, success.


So what can we do to handle judgment?

The first thing is to figure out where this judgment is coming from. As we discussed earlier, judgment is rarely an actual reflection on you. It is, instead, a reflection of the person judging us; this can include self-judgment. Understanding why someone is judging us can help us not only keep our power but also not take on their insecurities. If we can figure out where the judgment is coming from and understand that it is not a reflection of us, the less likely it will hit as deeply. 

The second is to figure out what wound is being triggered in ourselves. Judgment hurts, but it also gives us good insight into what wounds are still driving us. Once we understand what wound is being triggered, we can begin our own healing. 

The third is to become comfortable with your emotions, positive and negative. Your feelings are there for a reason. We can often be our own worst enemy, but you don't need to be at war with yourself. When you come across the times that you are judging yourself, take a step back and treat yourself like a friend, with compassion.

Fourth and finally, invest in yourself. Take the time to learn about yourself, learn about your triggers and wounds, and take the time that you need to heal. Practice self-parenting, self-love, and take the time to invest in your own personal growth and well-being.