Feeling judged is a common experience for many people. We might feel judged for the way we look, the clothes we wear, the things we say, the way we say them, or for the things we believe.
We respond to feeling judged by retreating inside ourselves, hiding and silencing our voice, or we react in defence or retaliation as if we’re being attacked.
Feeling judged takes its toll on us.
It drains us.
But if you want to be free of the heavy burden of feeling judged, this is what you need to understand.
Feeling judged and being judged are not the same thing!
This is such an important distinction!
Understanding this can make the difference between insecurity and stability.
It’s the difference between hiding and shining!
Feeling Judged vs Being Judged
The feeling of being judged is something we experience inside our self.
It’s important to understand that how we feel and react to others is up to us. Yes, it’s a result of our conditioning, traumas, fears, emotions, insecurities, attitudes and the things we believe (whether they’re actually true or not)… But it’s ours.
Feeling judged is a personal thing. Meaning it’s how we react. If we feel judged for any reason, it’s our feelings.
Being judged is something else! It’s something people outside of us do. It’s an external thing… and we can react to it, or not.
Sometimes the feeling judged and being judged will happen together, and sometimes they won’t.
Sometimes we feel judged when someone judges us.
It’s important to understand that just because we feel judged, does not necessarily mean we are being judged. And just because someone might be judging us does not mean we have to feel judged.
Taking things personally
If someone has a different opinion or questions something we’ve said, done, or why we believe something, we might take it personally and feel like that person is judging us.
Have you ever felt judged because someone asked you a question?
We might act defensively or angrily when someone questions something we believe… but that person may genuinely want to understand why we believe what we believe.
If we’re insecure about who we are, or if our sense of self is deeply attached to our beliefs, then any question can feel like an attack or judgement.
But remember, that doesn’t mean it was a judgement.
I’m a very curious person. I’ve spent more than 20 years exploring the mind and consciousness. I’ve always been curious to understand myself and expand my self-awareness. I know this comes through self inquiry – meaning to question myself and my beliefs, and sometimes that’s uncomfortable.
But it’s more than just understanding myself, it’s a curiosity to understand the human experience, so this means also understanding others. The curiosity to understand is also the desire to connect, and as Thich Nhat Hanh says:
“Understanding is love’s other name. If you don’t understand, you can’t love.”
So, I often ask people questions about who they are and why they believe what they believe. This is how we get to know and connect with people at a deep authentic level. But I’ve always found it fascinating to observe how my questions can occasionally be taken so personally. I know I had no sense of judgement in my questions, only a sense of curiosity… And yet, there are times when the people I’m talking to become very defensive.
But I understand.
Sometimes when this happens, I feel a sense of being judged for something I didn’t do. But this is my reaction. I perceive their reaction as a judgement for my perceived judgement. I know, it sounds a little complicated but that’s what happens. Fortunately, I usually catch myself, feel what’s happening inside me and I’m able to let it go.
But it starts with being mindful of my reaction.
We have a choice
In times when we feel judged, we can react, defend and justify our emotions by trying to blame someone else… Or we can choose to use it as an opportunity to be curious about our self, so we can learn and grow.
Choosing to grow does not mean we don’t feel our emotions! We do. We feel them and it might be very uncomfortable. But choosing to grow means we feel our emotions and reactions consciously in a way where we can take responsibility for them… because we understand our emotions are our emotions.
As long as we try to blame others for how we feel, we will always be the victim, because it will feel like we don’t have a choice.
But by learning to own our emotions thought being present with them, we have the power to transform our relationship to them. We learn to navigate the landscapes of our mind.
Use curiosity to transform feelings of judgement
If you’re feeling judged, engage your curiosity.
Follow your emotions mindfully. Just feel them. Be present with them. Let them take you deeper into yourself.
Why do I feel judged?
What beliefs am I holding onto?
What do I not want to see about myself?
What do I not want to admit?
Am I judging myself? If so, for what?
Why does it matter what someone else thinks?
Don’t underestimate the power of your curiosity! It’s a superpower!
It really can shift us from a closed and reactive state of mind into an open and receptive state of mind. Open and receptive is the place where we can break our self-imposed limits, connect to our heart and grow.
It’s also the place where understanding becomes love. Both within ourselves and within our relationships and interactions. It’s the place where we can heal our collective separation and bring back a sense of unity.
Curiosity is the magic that can facilitate it!
Journaling is also a great assistant to curiosity. It helps you connect more deeply to what’s happening inside you – including when you’re feeling judged. Any time you feel judged, take some time to sit quietly and reflect on your emotions, thoughts and feelings. Writing them down can help to make it more tangible.
Do this enough and you’ll start to see familiar patterns emerging.
It’s likely that people will judge you at some point. But remember, that doesn’t mean you have to feel judged!
Your strength comes from finding yourself.
Your strength comes from deconstructing your limits and insecurities.
Whenever you’re feeling judged, whether someone else is judging you or not, remember, they are your feelings. Use these times as opportunities to deconstruct your limits and insecurities.
By doing this you allow the strength of your heart to emerge.
And the world needs your heart to shine!