It's Not About You, But Them

You're going to be judged anyway, so stop looking for validation.

Why do we judge others?

1. We don't know much about them, so we try to fill in the gaps.

When you don't know much about someone, your brain tries to understand the cause of their behavior. For example, you call one of your coworkers and they don't respond, call back, or text. You may assume they are rude. However, if your sister does the same, you'd think she's busy, or she might have a good reason. We make 'attributions' - thoughts we have about others, trying to make sense of why someone acts in a certain way. There are two types of attributions: personality attributions (like in our example: 'they are rude'), or situational attribution ('she must be busy'). When you don't know much about a person's life, it's easier for your brain to make personality attributions. You know many details about your sister's life: she has three kids, works late, she probably can't even hear her phone. However, all you know about your coworker is where they work. You don't know what they're dealing with when they're at home, so naturally, you don't think 'maybe they're taking care of a sick parent; maybe they're dealing with depression; maybe they're on a date'. As a result, when that coworker repeatedly fails to answer your calls, you'll assume they're just rude, arrogant, or unfriendly.

The same way you judge them as being arrogant, others judge you. You know your situation, but others don't, and they will make assumptions about you, as well. Should you start telling everyone the story of your life, so they can see the whole picture, understand you, and stop judging? It would be impossible. The same way you don't know the story of each person you know, not everyone will learn yours. And it's ok.

2. We cannot identify with their beliefs, values, or behavior.

Who you are, what you believe, the way you perceive what's right or wrong is influenced by your experiences, education, the culture you've been raised into, your character and personality. Two people don't see the world with the same eyes, because we've all had our own experiences. What we believe is right, others may perceive it as completely wrong. For example, you are a woman who puts on make-up every day, while your coworker doesn't wear any, at all. 'She's ugly, doesn't care about how she looks, she'll never find a boyfriend', one might say. Her religion forbids her to put on make-up and has thought her that women should only wear the face they've received from God, or they'll burn in Hell. 'She's a sinner, probably also a slut, she must be sleeping with many men', another might say. All the information we receive about others goes through our personal filter. We make judgments based on our past experiences, set of beliefs, values, culture, education, our character, and personality. If a former boyfriend who once didn't answer your call turned out to be cheating, each time your current boyfriend won't answer your call, you'll be thinking 'he's with another woman'. It's natural, as this is a way to protect ourselves. The same way you don't always identify with others' beliefs, people won't always identify with yours. Should you start explaining your beliefs, values, past experiences to everyone, so they'd understand and stop judging you? Obviously not.

3. They somehow threaten us or the way we perceive ourselves.

Our confidence, fears, and self-esteem often control the way we judge others. When a young, beautiful woman gets hired at a company, you'll hear many voices saying 'she must be sleeping with the boss', 'at her age, how much experience can she have?', 'look at the way she's dressed, it's clear how she got the job'. And it's women's voices you'll be hearing. Subconsciously, a woman who isn't satisfied with her body, looks, or professional accomplishments, will be threatened by someone who she believes is better looking, or a better fit for a job. She might not speak the words, but she'll be thinking the thoughts. Her brain will find a comfortable explanation: 'If she gets promoted instead of you, it's not because she's better at the job, it's because she must be sleeping with the boss.' It's easy to understand things when you're on this side of the judgment. However, when you're the target, it's very hurtful.

We don't see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.

The information we receive on others goes through our personal filter. What we believe, our values, our experiences, how we've been raised, how we see ourselves, our fears and our self-esteem, each of these control the way we see the world. Where one sees a beautiful medieval castle, the other sees a terrifying building. Where one sees a beautiful bridge, the other sees a place of death. Where one sees a blonde young woman, the other sees a slut who sleeps with married men. While technically we all receive the same information, our brains analyze things differently to identify potential threats. The way you judge someone says many things about you: you're not happy with the way you look, or with your accomplishments; you've been hurt before and fear it might happen again; you've had traumatic experiences and haven't entirely recovered. It's natural, we all have our emotional baggage. So do those who judge you.

Being judged is both painful and natural.

You can say 'I don't judge', but you'd be lying. We often hear 'Only God can judge me', from people who are judging others - atheists, people with a different religion, or gay people. You judge, I judge, everyone judges. It's natural both to judge and be judged. However, this doesn't make it less painful, especially when it's verbalized. When thoughts become gossip, that's when you see the real character of a person. Judge if you must, but don't be the person who spreads awful rumors about others, regardless of what you might feel. The only situation you truly know is yours, so even when you're certain that your judgment is right, you're probably wrong. So, while you can't always control your thoughts, you can choose not to verbalize them.

You're going to be judged anyway, so stop looking for validation.

People will judge you, and some will also talk behind your back. It's painful, but that's just how people are. It's really not about you, but them. You'll look like a threat to some with low self-esteem, to those with a culture different than yours, and to those who don't know much about your life. Those with a poorer education will even turn their judgment into gossip. But what they think or say isn't really your business, as all that matters is the way you feel. You don't need approval from others, as long as you feel great in your skin. The day you start listening to what people say behind your back will be the day you start living on someone else's terms. You don't have to compare your life to others', as you don't share the same experiences, wishes, and needs.

Liked this? Share it with your friends!