This post was written by Trevor McDonald.
If only we could brush off judgment like crumbs from a dinner table. Life would be simple.
Instead, we waste our own precious time thinking about what might be going on in someone else’s head. Well, it’s time to stop – because it really is none of our business.
Even the kind of bold, in-your-face judgment you might get from an overzealous aunt or angry ex shouldn’t have a negative impact on your life. Truly, you’re above this.
Here are some ideas for turning that criticism into a positive thing.
1. Evaluate the Root of Judgement.
Oftentimes, when we think someone else is judging us, we’re really judging ourselves. That’s a deep realization, so give it a moment to sink in. If we’re honest with ourselves, one of our biggest worries is that someone else will expose us based on our insecurities.
Let’s say you’re insecure about something silly like how far your ears protrude from your head. You face indecisiveness. You obsess over this feature and may think other people are too. A stranger sees you and does a double take. In your mind, it’s clearly because he’s never seen ears quite like yours. In reality, it’s because you remind him of someone he knows.
This example seems like an exaggeration, but we do this to ourselves all the time. It could be over something physical, a decision you’ve made or your political views. We almost always judge ourselves more harshly than others do, and we’d be wise to remember that.
2. Evaluate the Cause of Judgement.
If your kid came home and told you about a bully on the playground, you might explain something about how bullies lash out because they feel insecure. We should also remember that this doesn’t end on the playground. If someone in your office is clearly judging you, they might be jealous and insecure. When they put you down, they instantly feel better about themselves.
On the playground and in the office, the best way to stop a bully is to remove his power. Don’t engage. When your bully gets bored, he or she will move on to something else that is more rewarding.
When you look at judgment from this perspective, it’s a bit easier to feel sorry for your accuser. The act of judging you makes this person small. Remember that you’re above that and move on to bigger and better things.
3. Focus on What Matters.
Acknowledge that you cannot stop judgment. If someone wants to judge you, they’ll find a way. And since you can’t please all of the people all of the time, shift your focus to something more important. You can’t change the past, so forgive yourself for past mistakes and move forward.
Every time you find yourself caught up in worry about what other people think, actively think of something positive. Think about your own past and future success. Think about the happiness you’re preserving by avoiding toxic thoughts.
Some of the greatest minds of our time have faced judgment, failure, and criticism (everyone has). The difference between true success and failure is how you handle judgment. Let it break you or let it make you. It’s your choice.
4. Know When to Walk Away.
Sometimes you can walk away from toxic judgmental people. Sometimes you can’t.
If you’ve identified someone as toxic, do your best to avoid this person. If you can’t rid your life of them entirely, it’s time to draw some boundaries. Maybe you let them know that your personal life is off limits. Set the parameters that make you feel most comfortable.
Imagine the possibilities in store for you when you’ve removed the negative Nancy’s in your life.
5. Choose Love.
This tip is by far the most difficult on the list, but it’s also the most rewarding. Make an effort to look at everything in your life through a filter of love and understanding. If someone is acting in a way that seems small-minded, maybe they need more kindness. Maybe they’re earnestly trying to help, but their delivery is lacking couth. Choose to see the good in every situation, and you stand to learn and grow much more than if you ignore anything that doesn’t suit you.
Possibly the best advice you can get on judgment and criticism is that it’s more a reflection of the person judging than it is on you. Try not to let it bother you because it will only interfere with your happiness. The world needs your happiness more than it needs any negativity.