How to Free Yourself from the Discomfort of Feeling Judged

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Unravel the impact that feeling judged has on your life to find inner peace. Explore effective ways you can uncover your triggers, and shift from reactive behaviors to conscious, mindful communication and action.

We judge and we are judged. A lot. While we don’t often realize we’re judging others, we sure do notice it the moment we think they’re judging us. It’s usually a big deal, too… to us.

The Deep-Seated Impact of Perceived Judgement

Quoto: If I believe a person has judged me harshly, it can be easy to perceive that as an attack. But we can turn this around into a more empowered state where we’re able to see if there’s actually any wisdom and truth in what they’ve expressed.

Typically, we react. And it’s rarely pretty. And doing so damages how we’re perceived. Let’s look at how we can powerfully shift away from this way of showing up, to living and communicating more consciously. A way that’s a lot easier on us, and on those around us.

When we feel judged, we’re very likely to react defensively, and that reaction could take many forms:

  • We can aggressively push back (“Hey, who the hell are you to judge me!”)

  • We can appear calm and try to prove that we don’t deserve to be judged by trying to turn the tables on the person we think is judging us (“Is it really me that’s in the way of us getting along or might it actually be because you seem to pretty regularly throw nasty comments in my directionf? Hmm?)

  • Or we can stay silent, but underneath that silence is a “disturbance in the force.” In this case we don’t say anything, but the thought bubble above our head says, “God, I can’t stand this person”. And then we’ll find ways to passive-aggressively dig at them whenever we get the chance.

Each of those options negatively impact our lives and relationships. So how do we shift out of feeling like we need to defend ourselves, and risking blowing up a situation?


The Ripple Effect of Our Negative Reactions

Quoto: When we free ourselves of taking feedback personally, we gain a valuable opportunity to receive a gift through which we may learn more about ourselves, grow and evolve.

If others’ judgments throw us off balance, any reaction we have will be registered by those around us and it rarely makes things better. As parents or as role models for others, the way we react will set the tone or standard for behavior in our families or in groups we’re in.

Children, in particular, are highly susceptible to sponging up this type of behavior.

Similarly, being defensive when someone judges us about something we’ve said or done is likely to put a strain on our relationship.

In such situations where we react, we’re essentially placing a higher value on how we’re perceived than our relationships or what’s kind and compassionate and reasonable in any given moment.


How DO We Get So Triggered?

Let’s see what’s really going on in those situations — how we, ourselves, are the ones truly causing us to react when receiving input. And before I forget, it’s important for our empowerment to know that this holds true — that we’re the ones truly causing ourselves to react — even if we ARE actually being judged.

If it appears to me that a person has judged me harshly, it’s not hard to perceive that as an attack if it sounds like one to me. But if we review what happens in slow motion, we can see that there are little gremlins pinching us, causing us to react.

What are the steps we take to leap into reaction?

STEP 1: Someone expresses words with some kind of energy, meaning, and intent. An example might be someone saying to me, “Bodhi, you don’t dress well.”

STEP 2: Our senses notice and experience those words and the energy carrying them. This isn’t woo-woo stuff, it’s physics. Our ears hear the word sounds, our eyes see the look the sounds were expressed with, and our bodies feel the energy.

STEP 3: Our brains comprehend what’s been said. The actual meaning of the words. All good so far. STEP 4: Here’s where things get dicey. Our minds interpret the meaning of what we’ve heard. Here’s where we face the proverbial fork in the road.

One path is to be aware that the communication is a person’s perspective, which may or may not carry seeds of truth or accuracy. With that, we can receive the input as possibly valuable information to assess and reflect upon. And we can respond thoughtfully.

The other path is when our interpretation gets distorted by the old residual pain of unhealed and unresolved mental-emotional wounds. And no matter how much work we’ve done on ourselves, every one of us will still have some unhealed and unresolved pain.

It is when we go down this path that we take what’s been said personally, and it most often leads to some form of reaction.

Taking care of ourselves

Quoto: It’s important to not diminish the potential benefit of a person’s input just because it’s their view, or because they deliver it with an emotional charge that’s in some way distorted by their own pain. None of those factors negates the profound and valuable truth that may reside in what they’ve shared.

So how can we hear people’s input neutrally so that we don’t get triggered and become reactive? How do we not grab the things that people express and interpret them filtered through the lens of our old unhealed wounds?

We’ve all been painfully judged in our lives and some of those old wounds have yet to heal. But when a specific wound impairs our relationships, we had better attend to it.

There are many ways to do this without years of psychotherapy and I work with people all the time to free themselves of these patterns all the time.

Part of being on the path of awakening is to do the work necessary to free ourselves from old, unhelpful patterns of thought and behavior.


Skillful Listening Requires an Expanded Perspective

Another area to address has to do with being more skillful when listening to what people say to us. And it has to do with the space from which we listen.

We can start by recognizing that a person’s view is simply their view. It’s their perception, and that means what they’re saying is more about them than it is about us. This would be easier to remember if everyone spoke more accurately.

Instead of someone saying, “Bodhi, you don’t dress well”, which implies that what they’re saying is about Bodhi, they would say, “Bodhi, I don’t think you dress well.”

When said this way, it’s easier to tell that what they’re saying has to do with me and the way I dress, but it’s what they think, and thus, about them.

When I say that it’s not “about me” — what I mean is that it is not about the whole of us as a human being. Making it about ourselves in that way is usually where we get hooked — where we catch ourselves on the end of our own fishing line. But it’s never about the whole of us.

That said, it’s important to not diminish the potential benefit of a person’s input just because it’s their view or because they deliver it with an emotional charge or that it is in some way distorted by their own pain.

None of those things have to mean that there isn’t profound and valuable truth in what they’ve shared.


Free to Live More Consciously

When we free ourselves from unnecessarily taking feedback personally, we gain a valuable opportunity to receive a gift that can support our learning, growing, and evolving.

Sure, it would be ideal if all the feedback we received was gentle, thoughtful, and clear. But either way, let’s have gratitude for all of the insights offered us.

One never knows what will lead to our greatest growth and evolution.


Would you like to be more present, feel more alive and connected, with a greater sense of inner peace?

It's my mission to support people in living and leading with greater ease, wisdom, and inner peace. To feel more deeply connected with those around them.

If you'd like to tap into your deeper insight and practical wisdom to live and lead more consciously, feel free to reach out at bodhi@bodhijeffreys.com to set up a time to connect.

To see what others have to say about the work we do together, please check out the testimonials here. I look forward to connecting.


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