Many of us are hyper-focused on what others think. It often dictates how we behave, how we respond, and how we feel. With all this focus on external factors, are you making room for the possibility that people are not judging, critiquing, or thinking about you as much as you think they are? Are you making space for the possibility that your true self may not be denied?
The truth is that people are going to judge you no matter what you do, and judgment is not always going to be negative or all-consuming. We need to make room for possibilities in instances of judgment. We could also promise to never judge anyone ever again, but the reality is that we are human, and humans tend to judge. So, let’s make space for possibilities instead.
Let’s discuss some examples. So, you saw someone staring at your bright green pants (and now you’re immediately self-doubting your clothing choice). Is it possible the person staring likes your pants? You will likely never know the truth (even if you candidly asked them). On the contrary, say you found yourself judging someone for laughing or speaking too loudly at a restaurant. You felt yourself staring and being unforgiving. You cannot go back in time and change the judgment you felt. However, you can lean into possibility. Is it possible this person was just having the best night of their life? Maybe. Is it possible you have been too loud in public? Now, this correlation is not to make you super critical of yourself. Rather, it is to build connection. Connection helps to quell judgment.
Similarly, people might judge you (in a negative way) but they are not going to be thinking about you for more than a few minutes. As humans, we all have a lot going on at any given time. Being a human is tough and most of us are fighting a battle of some sort. We are all quite hard on ourselves and we often project our own self-criticism by being judgmental of others. Understanding that judgement is fleeting might help us feel more protected.
Along with connection, time, and judgment, having rigid and self-defeating core beliefs robs us of living in the space of possibility. To explore possibilities, we must get comfortable with uncertainty and doubt. Possibilities are just things that might happen or might be the case. We ought to make space for them, as they can make us feel supported during hard times. The next time you are judging or feel judged, make room for possibilities to help yourself feel more grounded and secure. This, in turn, will lead you to connection and mindfulness.
If you need support and would like to speak to a professional counselor about topics, such as the one featured in this blog, and are in the Chicago area, please contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are located at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.
Written by Liz, Mental Health Counseling Master’s Level Intern
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