Putting Ourselves Out There: Withstanding the Judgments of Others

From the title of this post, it would be easy to assume that my bottom line would be, “Ignore ‘em! Don’t let the turkeys get you down.” Actually, my point is somewhat different. People pass judgment everyday—we all do it—and, in many cases we should. The judgment of others can serve the role of a social safety belt, keeping us from, say, jumping on a comely stranger, or telling that idiot blabbermouth in the meeting to shut up forever, or pulling out our Colt 45 when some asshole drives up the shoulder to butt in line. Jerk off. No, those things wouldn’t be so good, so thank heavens the fear of others’ disapprobation keeps us in check.

The fact of the matter is, we are all the recipients of others’ negative assessments, whether well intentioned or not. Her hair reminds me of Phyllis Diller—she’d be better served investing in some perky hats or a good wig to cover that mess up. I love him, but he insists on churning out that crap, convinced somebody wants his sculpture. His obsession with house rodent taxidermy—please, spare the world. I care about you and I can’t believe you’d walk away from everything you’ve got—this ginned up crisis of yours is going to ruin everything. I’m telling you this for your own good, DO SOMETHING ELSE. You’ll never be as happy on your own—why are you’re doing this?

Now, while I far prefer honest dialogue, there is a constructive way to provide well-intended feedback and a not so constructive way. When you are re-booting, you make yourself an easy target. When trying new things our hearts are tender, our steps tentative. Think of it this way: re-booting is a lot like adolescence. We can’t help ourselves—we have to go through it, and doing so feels awkward and excruciating, typically involving a series of missteps before we can find the exact right fit. What is vital to remember during this process is that what is the exact right fit for us may look insane or sound dreadful to the people we’re talking to—even those who adore us. (It may even trigger feelings of panic in them.) We re-booters feel like a gangly, pimply faced boy–withstanding the sniggers or confounded commentary of others is tough. Except, unlike our teenaged selves, we have a significant advantage in our arsenal: a much stronger sense of who we are.

It is this unwavering drive to be ourselves, to explore what this means, and to re-form our lives into something that fits who we are today, that is the foundation of re-booting. The confidence that develops with age can’t be acquired any other way. So, that’s at least one point in the “plus” category.

Here’s what I have to say about managing the judgments of others when taking your first, wobbly steps into whatever it is: THEY ARE NOT YOU. Remind yourself of this. People bring their own expectations and limitations to the table—the opinion they render will be based on that. It would be nice if they saw what we see, but we need the courage to continue, regardless.

Cocktail fact: did you know that birds can see colors humans can’t? The multihued plumage we see in, say, a Rainbow Lorakeet or Golden Pheasant pales in comparison to what the birds, themselves, are seeing. (Remember that flash-in-the-pan internet debate about “the dress”?) Same goes for dogs and hearing. They can hear things we can’t—we simply lack the ability. This analogy applies equally to coping with the discouraging judgments of others in the face of what you’re trying to achieve. It’s not that your attempts are lacking in talent or cringe inducing—it’s not that at all. In fact, many of these folks want you to thrive and be successful, but on terms they can understand, with definitions they can accept. They cannot fathom why you would decide to do whatever it is you’re doing. They can’t see all your colors. They can’t hear the music you’re playing. You speak a different language than you used to. When you think of it this way, it removes a lot of the sting. There’s no way to play catch with a person who has no arms. It’s not personal about how you throw the ball—they just can’t catch it.

I have said this over and over and over: our motivations and assessments must come from within. Anything else is basically irrelevant: if they like it or they don’t like it. If they think it’s brilliant or it sucks. Remind yourself that their spectrum of capability is different from yours. Yes, they believe what they say and yes, it may have some value, and yes, they may have your best interests at heart, but don’t let their judgments be the determining factor in what you think about your own efforts. Do whatever it is it because it’s important to you—forget about the adulation of others.

 Lorakeet

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2 Responses to “Putting Ourselves Out There: Withstanding the Judgments of Others”

  1. Jim Patterson Says:

    Hi Chrisanna,

    Just one point that I work with. I sometimes THINK others are judging me and they are not. In fact they might even be ignoring me but in my mind’s eye, all I see is they are measuring and judging me. Thus the problem is me and not others.

    I hope Spring is upon you!

    Jim

  2. dignitarysretreat Says:

    Thanks, Jim. Actually, what I am addressing are the direct comments we can get from concerned others. Of course, we can always incorrectly project, but there are many times when we are, in fact, on the receiving end. Judgment happens! It just does! A lot. My point is that this doesn’t need to discourage us because many times, the judgment is coming from a place of being on different wave lengths…At least that’s my take on it.

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