Freeing ourselves from judgment
“Care about what other people think and you will always be their prisoner.”
- Lao Tzu
I hope I am speaking for everyone when I say that nobody likes to be judged. I certainly prefer to not be judged by others, but I know it happens. I also know I am not innocent when it comes to me passing judgment on others. It's part of the human experience. I have definitely gotten better about it over the years. I have also gotten much better at not allowing the opinions and judgment of others to affect my wellbeing. I realized people do not know my experience, so their opinion of me is limited and/or biased. It's not fair to me to take it so personally when they don't know all of the details.
Learning to not care what people think about me (especially people who barely know me) was not easy to do. I admit, I still fall into this trap, but rarely. Part of the reason I had so much trouble letting go of the judgment of others is that I used to be a big people pleaser. I did not want to let anyone down or give them a reason to dislike me. What a huge drain on my energy that used to be! I learned I can't please everyone or even most people. I learned how to deal with disagreeing with others and not taking their opinion of me so seriously. It's still a work in progress, but it has gotten so much better since my 20's.
It became such a relief once I stopped getting so worked up about how other people felt about me. I was able to stop trying to please others so much and learned that no matter what I do, there will always be people who agree or disagree with me. There will be people who like or dislike me. That's up for them to decide. I decided to stop taking it so personally. I learned to be ok with people who hold a negative opinion of me. That's their right. It's also my right to not become offended or upset about it. Honestly, it's the best feeling, to not care what others think of me. It has been one of the most important self-care practices I use.
On the flipside, I also stopped judging others, understanding I might not have all the details or may have my own personal bias. I still slip up, but I catch myself too. I also realized, if I don't concern myself with judging others, I don't really mind if others want to judge me. That's their choice. It's also their opinion. As long as I stick to my beliefs, with a willingness to be open-minded, I'm fine with it. I don't do grudges or resentment. I simply stopped caring so much about how others perceive me, knowing I can't please everyone. It has made living life so much more enjoyable.
Psychology Today: 8 Ways to Stop Worrying About What Other People Think