Lately, I’ve experienced a lot of superficial judgment, especially while meeting new people. I felt so overwhelmed by these feelings a few weeks ago, that I had to vent it out via my Instagram account (yes, it was a bit of a rant, but we all need to rave sometimes). However, I’m really glad I did. When I asked how others deal with judgment, I quickly encountered words of wisdom shared by my followers and stories of similar experiences had amongst the community. For some it’s rooted in appearance, it’s an unfortunate matter of ageism, sexism and racism. Others have been assessed based solely on hearsay and gossip. Regardless of how you experience negative judgment, it’s imperative to recognize it and determine how to address it. Only then can you keep it in its place and learn how to positively deal with it.
In my personal experience, I am usually scrutinized based on my appearance and disposition. Now before you get at me and start rolling your eyes, this is not my attempt to gain sympathy. I am very lucky overall, I have a wonderful life and I’m definitely not complaining. But judgment is something I find myself battling more frequently, as my social media presence and blog readership continue to grow. But regardless of whether I’ve got my blogger hat on or am working as part of my day job, unfortunately judgment can sometimes materialize and in the form of arrogance and smugness.
Yes, I am petite, positive, blonde, bubbly, and generally enthusiastic about life. However, this does not mean that I am stupid or less worthy. It doesn’t mean I’m naive, or a doormat you can walk all over. Of course not! It’s completely ridiculous and sounds silly to even make the connection as I type it here. But in reality, this has been my experience. I can sense the condescending tone with which I am spoken to, I am given unsolicited guidance and advice, and pet names such as ‘sweetie’ and ‘cutie’ start to fly my way. I’m not angry about it, as this behaviour does not stem from a hateful place. But it’s a frustrating hurdle to overcome just the same.
Why do we do this to one another? Why do we judge one another so distinctly when we’re only looking at the facade? Maybe it’s human nature to make instinctive decisions about our surroundings and those we encounter. Blame it on survival instinct. It’s innate and often unconscious. I suppose that on some level it unites us as we are all guilty of it. I’m no anthropologist, but I’m guessing these skills had more of a purpose back when we were still smashing things open with rocks and using boulders for protection. It was a matter of life or death, and therefore necessary to determine whether or not someone or something should be deemed as threatening. But now that we’re no longer cave dwellers, why do we let our instincts function as the ultimate evaluator? Why do we so easily jump to conclusions about other people?
This isn’t a matter of caring what other people think; it’s a matter of truth. I am intelligent, educated and I work hard. I am driven and I am ambitious. But would you know all of that just by looking at me? Probably not. This is not a case of gloating or bragging, it’s a matter of acknowledging self-worth. Don’t assume appearance captures the whole person. We all have abilities and skills, we all have strengths and talents. What are yours? What’s your truth? Find it. You need it.
So what is the best way to deal with judgment? How can it be turned into a positive? I think these questions are important to ask as really, it’s not going away. People will judge. But I think it’s safe to say that no one wants to live their lives surrounded by negativity, feeling as though they’re being sized up. One would think that in order to effectively deal with negative judgment, you have to stop it at the source. Put up your dukes and face it head on. Give them a taste of their own medicine. Send that snarky comment and sarcastic tone promptly back their way! Right? On the contrary, I believe that it starts and ends with you. Acknowledge that power. You have the capacity to choose whether or not you will foster negativity, or influence it. The negativity can end with you, and that is remarkably significant. No, you can’t determine how another person will treat you, or stop them from misinterpreting the truth, but you can decide how to react to it.
When I am confronted with superficial judgment, I call upon this power. But I am human; sometimes it takes everything in me to combat these negative feelings in a positive way. I would be lying if I told you that I don’t care, that I easily ignore it, and that it doesn’t affect me. It takes work and it takes practice, but I’m working on it! It’s easy to feel defeated when someone isn’t taking you seriously, when they’ve already made their mind up about you, or when you’re not given a chance from the start. It’s an awful feeling to be judged by someone when they don’t know you as a person, when they don’t have all the facts. But I am learning that in that moment, all I can do is rely on truth.
I’m learning to ask myself, what is truth? What is my truth and what do I know? I know that I have the power to change the climate, to choose positivity, and react accordingly. I know that I have the potential to do great things; I know that I am multifaceted and capable. My truth reminds me of my self-worth, of my power and capacity. All of a sudden that superficial judgment presents itself as just that, superficial. Surface level, one-dimensional and lacking all substance.
Rooting myself in the truth allows me to take a moment, step back and remember that this isn’t personal. Without knowing me, it can’t be. It’s an unfortunate innate reaction, it’s basic instinct. The judgment I’m experiencing is perfunctory and empty; I remind myself to see the situation for what it’s worth. Doing so allows me identify shallow thinking before it breaks me. I can put the judgment in its place in my mind: choose shallow thinking if you prefer, but without giving me a chance, it’s you who are putting yourself at a disadvantage. You are disarmed, and you’ll be blown away when you realize your error in judgment. I know my truth. Let’s choose to begin in a positive place, instead of a jealous, competitive or negative one. Whatever the reason, when negativity comes your way, see it an opportunity to push past first impressions and form a deeper relationship.
They say ‘you are your own worst critic’ – and some days I think I could be the poster child for this. Although we are often hardest on ourselves, the ability to deal with negative judgment, regardless of the source, lives within you. It’s one thing to recognize how you are perceived by others; it is another to accept this evaluation without considering whether or not it is rooted in truth. Instead, know who you are and concern yourself with fostering self-love, the power is there. It’s totally cheesy, but finding your truth provides the ability to carry yourself confidently and rise about the judgment.
I would love to hear your thoughts about judgment, what you have experienced and how you deal with it below. Thanks to my awesome Instagram followers and specifically those listed below for their supportive and thoughtful comments on the topic via my Instagram post:
find.me.in.fairytales, serxyrerxy, disastersofathirtysomething, laurakaminer, Sou2ma5, 88jlo88, jessa_bara, crystalartoutfitters, soapboxpoet, fulloflifegal, mycupoftweed, misty.sunday, sezen_smilee, cheesecakery_bakery, yrfindlay, robwhelanweddings and to Amanda-Marie, Katherine Wieser, and Amanda Gryzwacz for their comments on my Facebook Page.
Soon enough, we’ll find a magical way to float effortlessly above adversity, but until then, root yourself in your truth.
Dress by Lila Rose, found at Winners.
Urban Planet ribbon tie heels.
Fuschia belt from H&M.
Silver chain necklace from Bebe, Daniel Wellington Classic Petite Sterling Watch can be found here.
Vintage jacket and purse.
Disclosure: Photography by the amazing Ashlee of Red Lemon Art & Photography, taken in and around the Elm Cafe, a local business working to enrich our community. All opinions and comments are my own of course.