Imagine that I said to you, “I hate your purple hair. It looks terrible on you.” Assuming that your hair is any color except purple, you might wonder about my eyesight but aside from that, you wouldn’t give the comment a second thought.

It would roll right off your back. You wouldn’t ruminate about it, or question whether I was right, or second guess your actual hair color.

On the other hand, if your hair color was purple, you might feel offended.

Do You Fear Being Judged by Others?

Many of us feel obligated to consider other people’s opinions (i.e., judgmental thoughts or comments) before we do or say something. This usually manifests in a formulation such as:

  • What will people say if I…?
  • I don’t want others to see me as…
  • What will the family think of me if I…?
  • How will my kids react if I… ?

You have no doubt felt the sting of being judged by others. Sometimes criticism is meant to be helpful; sometimes it isn’t.

  • You need to get on with your life.
  • You’re not dealing with this properly.
  • You are only looking out for yourself.
  • You are being overly dramatic.
  • You should take better care of yourself.

We fear being judged and we feel hurt when we are judged only when we are in agreement; only when deep down, we are already judging ourselves.

We talk to friends about it and they commiserate with us, telling us how rude and insensitive the comment was, but that doesn’t solve the hurt, because the hurt is rooted deeper. The problem isn’t what another person said (or what they might say). The problem is what we already are thinking about ourselves.

Judgment Presents an Opportunity

Being afraid of being judged or feeling the sting of judgment presents an opportunity to examine our own thoughts; to consider that deep down, we might be in agreement. And then to remember that all thoughts are 100% optional.

Thoughts that cause extra suffering do not serve us. Let’s face it, life can be painful enough. The last thing we need is added suffering.

Examine your thoughts. Are they both true and useful? (Hint: if they make you feel horrible, they’re very likely not useful.) If they are not both true and useful, it’s time to choose other thoughts, on purpose, that are 100% true for you.

Once we stop judging ourselves, we can stop living in fear of being judged by others. We can break free of the paralysis and take action: make the bold move, quit the job, accept the dinner invitation, start the business, be brave enough to be a beginner.

Once we learn to have our own back, judgmental comments lose their sting. We can simply allow other people to be wrong about us.

Does fear of judgment keep you from taking action? Do you agree that judgment only stings when, at some level, we are already judging ourselves? How have you allowed others to be wrong about you? What do you think others might judge you for? Have you tried switching self-criticisms off for the benefit of better thoughts?

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