Have you ever been so completely infatuated with someone that it was hard to look at them? Because the emotions were so raw and overwhelming you couldn’t handle it? And because you thought if they looked into your eyes, they’d see right through you like you’d be totally exposed?
That was me at 14 years old. I met a boy and was crushing so hard that when he’d look at me, I’d look away.
That continued the first few times we hung out.
Eventually, I could hold my gaze. We became friends. A couple months later we became boyfriend and girlfriend. Shortly after that, we exchanged “I love you”. And shortly after that, he invited me to meet his parents.
I was excited. So that day came and I tried to look my best and exhibit well mannered behavior. When we went to his house, his parents talked with me for a few minutes and said they had to head out somewhere—it was a brief encounter.
The next day, I asked him what they said. I wanted my review. He was avoiding the question. So I kept pressing. Eventually, he told me.
They wanted him to stop dating me. And he assured me that he didn’t care what they wanted—that we’d be together forever.
My brain, of course, kept turning…“Why didn’t they like me?” It didn’t make sense. I was a straight A student. I had never been in any trouble. I had a job. I mean, I was a waitress but I was 14. What else was I going to do?
Turns out they had done some of their own checking and their decision wasn’t based much on me at all. You see, their son was one of the top athletes on the golf team. He was a good student, on his way to one of the state’s best universities. Their family was affluent. They had a nice home, nice cars, and his parents were professionals.
Whereas I was a whole other story. My mom left when I was 2. My dad was raising us on his own and had dropped out of high school in 8th grade, so the best job he could get was as a truck driver which kept him away from home most of the time. So I had no parental supervision. My older brother had already been in a lot of trouble. The school had a large file on his poor behavior up to the time he dropped out. He was on probation, was in and out of juvenile detention centers, was a heavy drug user, and eventually ended up in jail. I was extremely poor and lived in a sad, little run down trailer park.
So his parents didn’t want their “on track for success” son dating a apparently “going nowhere” girl from the trailer park and bad family.
Has anyone ever judged you?
Has anyone ever made a decision about you without actually getting to know you?
I was hurt. I was as frustrated with his parents’ judgement as I was inflated that he chose me over them. At least that was my take on it.
We are a judging species. It is in our nature to judge our surroundings and other people in it. It’s a safety mechanism. If we didn’t make judgements, we’d probably get ourselves into sticky situations more often. Think of how often we do even when we are judging.
The difference between an average person and a higher-thinking person is the higher-thinking person knows our judging tendency exists and thinks beyond the initial judgement.
Don’t punish yourself for having judgmental thoughts pop into your head.
Do be mindful it’s happening and take a beat to decide if those judgmental thoughts are ones you want to believe or not.
Just because something pops into your head doesn’t make it true. Nor does it being posted online. Or in a book. Or verbalized by someone else—even a news source. Put your higher self to work and really put the judgement to the test. Is it certainly true or is it possibly false?
Is this always the case?
Example: A person comes at you with a knife.
Make the quick judgement. Let your fight or flight response kick in, and protect yourself.
Taking the time to judge your initial judgement: Is this usually the system you should use?
Example: A person of a different culture says something to you that out of your norm, and your initial judgement is that they are weird and you want to distance yourself from them.
This is a great time to ask yourself why you’re feeling that way? If they really did anything worth ignoring them over? Is there some way you could be helpful to them? How would you feel if you found out they are the kindest person and you did nothing to help them? And how would you feel if you were in a similar situation and no one helped you or talked to you?
Fight or flight response is not appropriate when someone says something weird to you or something you didn’t understand. Seeking to understand that person is an appropriate and kind response.
What are some of the things we don’t know when we interact with other people?
- What kind of day they’ve already had.
- What challenges they are currently dealing with.
- Whether or not they have any sort of support system in their lives.
- What’s really on their minds or in their hearts.
- How they are normally treated by others based on their appearance, circumstances, background, culture, or any other characteristic.
What are some of the things we can do after we recognize our initial judgement?
- Catch yourself after the initial judgement and before you speak. Take the time to really assess that judgement. Put some thought into it.
- Give people the benefit of the doubt.
- Seek the good in others.
- Educate yourself. If you don’t have the information needed to make an educated judgement. Do the research.
- Feel good about yourself, because the better you feel about you, the less likely you’ll be to use that initial judgement (especially when you know in your heart it is likely not accurate)
Why make this extra effort?
Because our connection with others is a factor on our success in many areas including career, financial and relationship. Also because our connection with others is the largest determining factor in our overall success.
Get great at connecting with people and building relationships and you’ll have a more successful and more fulfilling life. Being judgmental is a wall between you and connecting with people. Taking time to overcome your judgements is the wrecking ball that will break through that wall.
Like this post? Send it to someone else you think might like it or benefit from it.
And leave a comment or send me a message. I’d love to hear if you’ve had an experience like this…on either side of the equation.