How to deal with judgment from others.

Silent Judgement:

If the judgement is unspoken I treat it like they farted. I know it's there. I may feel a little awkward for them and uncomfortable if it's a particularly nasty one, but I'm going to either ignore and wait it out, or get myself out of the room.

Unless. If I really love you and you are in the innermost circle, I've been known to wave my hands in front of my face and holler "Holy Mother Of Christ! What died up there!?" These are the same people that I would call out if it implicitly seemed like they were judging me, "Seriously!? You know me better than this!" And we would all heave a sigh of relief.

My underlying policy is: what other people think about me is none of my business. The unshared contents of someone else's mind is as off limits to me as their underwear drawer. So I don't have to (get to) ask them about their opinion of me, I don't have to try and parse it out by their expressions or behavior.

This saves me from a tremendous amount of crazymaking. I don't have to understand why someone invited me to lunch or hypothesize why they didn't. I don't have to play plausible deniability with manipulative people, or hook into "what they meant by that." Unless they choose to share it with me, no matter the subtle provocation, despite my own occasional urge to dig, I tell myself what I would tell Carson or Lily in the presence of something compelling and stinky: "Leave It!"

Gossip and Slander:

If the judgement escalates and finds a voice that I can't hear as it spreads from person to person, I get more and more uncomfortable. Still the none of my business policy remains in place until someone speaks out loud to me. Once that happens another policy kicks in: I do you no favor allowing you to harm me. Sometimes setting things right is as simple as correcting the misperception, other times there is something a little darker involved.

When someone deliberately harms me they tie a thread between us. Now they have to watch me to see if I will try to harm them back. They will have to justify their actions to themselves and perhaps others; I will become interesting to them. They will become interesting to me as well. I will have to keep an eye on them to see if they intend another strike. If I retaliate, I will have to anticipate and prepare for their counter attack. I may have to nurse my wound and while I'm doing so, I may be giving psychic space to them in the form of resentment. This is karma.

In Romans 12:19, the Bible has the Lord claiming vengeance for himself. I am not Christian, so I don't know about this, but I have seen how vengeance plays out, long term, when we humans try it. Compassion dictates I have a duty to avoid nastiness, if I have the power to do so. I don't think of responding to gossip as defending myself or even setting someone else straight; It’s interrupting and redirecting negative energy.

It takes me a lot of thought to do this effectively and I don't always succeed at first. Usually humility is involved - one of my teachers used to say "humility takes the sting out of rebuke." I remember sitting down with a particularly difficult and defensive coworker and listing all the ways I fail to live up to my own standards. Then she helped me think of other "crimes" I had committed. Eventually we ran out of ideas on how I was an asshole, and she helpfully began to give some illustrations from her own life. She was able to admit that she was sometimes judgmental, and that every once in a while she enjoyed making enemies, and that sometimes she could be a tiny bit of a bitch. Hell didn't freeze over but the temperature dropped a bit.

Sometimes I have to get really big and sharp and tell someone to take that nonsense somewhere else. Years ago I worked with a horrible bully and the kindest thing I could do was to convince him that my team was the wrong place to pick a fight.

Sometimes I have to be really small and gentle and remind someone that we don't want to play like this. Sometimes I have to enlist other resources. Sometimes I'll have to try a series of things until I find something that works. If someone's judgement explicitly harms me I am going to respond.

#ego #judgement #gossip #suffering

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