Monday, November 24, 2014

Breathe & let go of the judgement

There are days when all you can do is shake your head & hopefully the stuff you don't need out; the stuff that takes up way too much of your time & energy. This is the stuff of other people's opinions & judgements, that makes days harder, often disguised as friends, family or good advice. Sometimes you don't even ask for it, let alone need it, yet it's there & at times can be so overwhelming the disappointment of not being how others expect you to be can be the catalyst for depression, withdrawal socially, anger, frustration & worse. Nothing good comes from the judgement of others in its negative forms.

The truth is anything which does not improve your sense of self, lifts you to a positive outcome is not help & it isn't good advice. There is a skill to communicating & few care to learn therefore neglect the potential outcomes by misguided & false advice. Just because you know words & can use them to verbalise yourself, does not equate to good communication skills.

Not to be confused with the hard stuff good friends are made of. When you are at risk to yourself or to others & great friends step in to show you the way, rather than tell you what to do & step back & let you fall on your face. It's the false stuff that people show in their body language, in the their eye contact, in the words they say & don't say, it's the stuff you over hear or when someone forgets to disconnect the phone & you get a little insight into what people think of you when they think you are not listening - that is judgement in its ugliest form. It's also ignorance, it's also harmful & dangerous. It's the conversations people have with you all the while attempting to reassure you they are there to support you & then turn to someone else or their partner or their children & repeat a different story. Nothing is more hurtful than discovering falsities in people you care about. 

Our intrinsic need, one of the most basic human drives is our need to connect & belong. Imagine the realisation that you are in the wrong place with the wrong people & heading down the wrong path.  It takes an awfully strong individual to be capable of leaving the environment which spends more time bringing you down through judgement and assumptions than lifting you up so you can go forward with support and encouragement. 

I've heard it all, judgements of children from parents, judgements of so-called friends, judgements about partners, even the tiring judgement of complete strangers by merely reading an article in the newspaper or watching a t.v. report & forming an assumption (a sense of entitlement), a self righteous view that they could possibly understand the complex background to why a person behaves as they do. 

As someone whose role was to form judgements through professional assessment there is a risk of getting it wrong without substantiated evidence. This isn't needed in our day to day lives nor is it ever used. How quickly I have learned this over the past few years as I began to ignore and even let go of the relationships with people who knew me the least yet made the most judgements. What I discovered was a lightness to my heart & an improvement in my mental health when I let go of the people & relationships which did not serve my best interest, which drained my sense of self, lowered me to feeling insecure & unworthy, to feel lost or confused. By letting go of such relationships I allowed more room for the right people to enter my life. 

There is nothing more telling about a person than when they unleash their judgements about you, about your decisions, what you should be doing (if they were you), how your parenting could be better, who you love, what choices you make, how you spend your money, your time, your energy.

It is far more easier for people to accept a lie than to confront the truth. We see this in the media, in public lives every day. In the last few years there has been an increase in sexual assault claims of public profiles in the entertainment industry & perusing the comments on line I've noticed it is far more comfortable for people to accept someone's lie than it is to challenge their false reality.

When people judge you, when you listen to them judge others, it tells far more about their own insecurities than it does about you. There are those who judge people by the way they dress, their tattoos, their hair styles, the most ridiculous shallow judgements are those of physical appearance. Some years ago we were travelling throughout Australia & camped overnight in a remote location in the Northern Territory. Up the back, away from all the other campers was this amazing flash looking bus, brand new & the travelling environment you dream you could take your children in. No one seemed to know who it belonged to. There was this guy wandering around the park at times, he seemed to walk everywhere; complete with rubber thongs, unshaven, stubbies (if you are not an Aussie these are little short shorts) & a blue singlet. So you could imagine the surprise of some campers when they realised this incredibly nice guy was once an extremely successful property developer & decided he wanted more from life & sold everything up to hit the road. He traded in his business suits & Merc for a bus & thongs & off he went.

Further down the road we had more & more experiences; there was the time late on a Friday arvo, stranded on the Nullabor & the kids were all down with a vomiting bug & I had failed to notice my EFT card had expired & being a Friday didn't have time to transfer a little more. We had 3 days until Monday, sick kids & no cash & driving a large 4WD that took a lot to fuel up. So we pitched our tent in the free zone to ride it out. If you ask the kids today they will say it was our 'hell on earth'. A few times we went to use the only what we thought 'free' toilet in the area at a local service station, until the owner came out to tell me off for taking advantage of her business (free toilet?) & I walked off in tears, by then I had also come down with the same bug. Approximately 30 minutes later a man came over, covered head to toe in tatts, teeth missing, what some would consider 'scary' with a few coins to go & use the showers/toilets over the back which were reserved for the caravan park & a bag with fresh milk/water a few treats for the kids & an apology for the lady.  He had noticed us for the few days & explained to the owner her assumptions were incorrect & reminded her that come Monday we would have to spend several hundred dollars at her service station to fuel up & get the hell out of there.

I can't tell you the number of stories complete strangers have been kinder to us than the people we know. The problem appears to be those closest to you see one version of your personality & believe they understand everything about you & can develop an ignorant sense of entitlement to remind you of all the mistakes you make (their perceived mistakes).

In reality - IT IS YOUR LIFE & yes it hurts & it is difficult to stay with people & be tolerant when you are constantly being judged by people you know are merely projecting on you their own inadequacy & wish that their life was different & through their excuses of having 'learned the hard way' feel it a right to tell you what you need to change. In reality there are some people who are so afraid of examining their own life & spending their time working on their own issues, it is much easier to focus on you.

I've heard people who drink like fish every day, talk about others alcoholic problems; I've heard people discuss the marriage failings of others all the while ignoring their own falling apart. I've had the judgements about parenting from people whose children are off the rails & out of control. When people fear their own reality they feel no other instinctive option than to focus on someones life other than their own.

How easy it is to dish out arm chair advice to someone going through hell, someone homeless when you have a roof over your head? Bullying is a form of judgement, its others telling you things you don't need or want to hear about yourself. In the adult form bullying continues by people who disguise themselves as 'caring' or 'helping' yet really become comfortable in their closeness to you & when the judging & assuming starts you need to pick yourself up & put a lot more distance between you so they may get the message (although they may never do that) & you can protect yourself. No matter how hard you try to defend yourself & educate people about your reality, there are some people who love to sit down & spend more time talking about you than helping you, let them go, you don't need people in your life who do not serve your best interest.

As someone who has a heavy load every day & some days it is unbearable, I just politely smile at people & try to ignore the many responses I could say about their lives & just breathe & walk away. There are some days I want to walk so far I cannot hear the sound of some people's voices anymore, I want to go so far that everything becomes quiet & the assuming & judgement ceases to exist.

The truth is we are all trying to survive here, we are hoping to get the most we can out of this life in the way we know how, with the experience, skill & knowledge we have; remembering no two people are ever the same, so why on earth would you assume to know what someone should do. There are options & there is advice, yet make it worth their while, where they feel good about themselves. Ask yourself is it coming from what you would do or what they would do. I would lay money on it that 99% of the time people give advice based on what they would do & find it extremely difficult to stop & think long enough about being in someone else's shoes.

Sometimes people with depression, mental health issues, stress, may already be running with a full cup. They have no more room for your unsolicited advice. They need someone to carry their cup for them or to help take some out, not to put more in & tell them what they should be doing instead of where they are at now. This can be the difference whether someone survives life or not.

I tell my children when you've had enough rough play or the joke is going too far to voice it to people & then the onus is on them to listen & to hear what you've said. The youngest one has sometimes raised her hand & said 'stop it I don't like it' & her older siblings think of only their needs & the keep going & before long she has ended up in tears & no one is having fun anymore. Adults are the same, if you listen carefully people will tell you when they've had enough, maybe it's in their body language, they might stop calling, they might tell you directly; sometimes their cup is full & they need you to take some time off from the judgement & assumptions as they try to catch their breathe.

Whether your friend or family member has an addiction or a struggle or they have major stress in their life & they appear to you to be 'screwing it up', just take a deep breathe & think before you say 'you could ......' or 'you should........' or 'I was just trying to help'. It is helpful if it is needed, it is not help if it hurts or makes things harder for the person.When you tell someone your judgements & assumptions, which cut to the core of stuff they are dealing with, take a moment & ask yourself are you making this harder for them or easier? Are you really helping or are you judging & assuming you know better, when you don't have a clue what they are going through.


The truth - no one really knows the whole person. The only way we get to know each other is by listening without judgement and assumptions, without preconceived pattern & history, without relating it to our own life & experience.


I dare any person to stand up & tell me they've been through what I've gone through & then see if they would have the same outcomes & be the same person. Dare you.

Try butting out a bit more & butting out in private as well, don't save your judgement for behind close doors & then watch it filter through as the lies you tell yourself about others, through your misunderstanding, lack of education, lack of experience (how many people do you know who have had relatively easy lives & yet continually pass judgement on those who have not? How can you possibly judge a person who chooses to be single if you have been co dependent your whole life? How can you judge someones parenting if you are non existent in your own role? How can you judge someone else's health if you are an alcoholic? How can you possibly pass judgement on a single Mum with an incredibly difficult load to carry when you have a husband & a life without uncertainty & you can plan a year ahead, when some of us are living day to day?

Judging & assuming is a 'dangerous game' - we all have our own stuff to deal with, based on OUR experiences, OUR lives & OUR reality. Time to get off everyone elses case & focus more on what's in your own backyard.

In a society where suicide is at its highest in history, where more people are feeling so lost, so overwhelmed & alone, mental health is increasing & the DSM (the statistical manual for diagnoses) is becoming one of the largest books of our time, something needs to be done to put down the judgement & assumptions & pick up the compassion, the patience, the love & sensitivity to each other.

There is nothing more soul destroying than projecting onto a person a sense of not being good enough. When I see people doing this through their sexism, racism, abuse of their partners, making jokes at their partners or friends expense & think its funny, when they use sarcasm as a front for their own self loathing, when I observe the behaviours of others I feel so sad for their journey, their struggle, how lost they have become from themselves, how detached & disconnected from who they are.

Despite my failed marriage & the outcomes of all those years when my ex was in the ADF, I have to say the help & support was incredible compared to 'civilian' life. When my son had cancer someone would help with his injections when my husband was away, there was the kind woman who had 5 children of her own & a busy life & she would make a pot of something, bake fresh bread & organise to even have the washing folded while I was at the hospital all day. There were people who through their small acts of kindness made a very difficult time that much easier.

I am so grateful for the true friends who listen, who I know are there, yet there are days and sometimes too often when people forget we are stills swimming up hill with a full pack & we don't need their judgement or assumptions and we are very very very tired of carrying this load. Maybe it is nearing time to put a lot of distance between us & the judgement again, maybe its time to just pack up & go so we can breathe & how sad it is that sometimes it takes that in order to survive.

If you can do anything today, try saying something nice, being nice, helping someone, even a stranger, you just never know, you might be the difference to whether someone has had enough or holds on a little longer. Namaste xoxox

"The reality is that most people are just doing what they’re doing. Constructing stories and explanations for other people’s choices and behavior is a dangerous game. Everyone has their stuff, their fears and pain and raw, unhealed places. We all have our worries and obsessions and dreams and occasional absurdities. We’ve all had our particular life experiences which have shaped us and informed the way we feel about the world and other people." Ally

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