When Others Judge Us

I’ve been thinking a lot about decisions. Big ones. The kinds that open you up to all sorts of criticisms. Perhaps it’s because I’ve spent the last 6 months walking away from the corporate legal world and building my own firm — but then again, maybe that’s just coincidental! (Besides, who needs a steady income, benefits, and a fancy title?!) Either way, these big decisions have one huge hurdle in common: they bring us face to face with others’ judgements.

But are they really others’ judgement or are they coming from somewhere closer to home?

We’ve all made some big decisions, the kind that can’t be easily unwound. Marriages, divorces, job changes, career changes, kids (or no kids!) etc. During our lives we will make loads of big decisions and with those decisions the same kinds of worries.

What will other people think?

I had this epiphany lately about people’s judgment and it came from a surprising place — my tattoos. Bear with me here, I promise this applies to the real world. I love tattoos. I’ve always loved tattoos and have slowly collected them over the years but within the past few years, I decided to dive headfirst into some big ones — life in my 40s has made me bolder, apparently. After 8 painful hours on the table my newest piece of art was complete. After a few weeks, it was completely healed and a few months later, it was summer and I could finally let it see the sun. Hallelujah!

But as I went through my summer wardrobe ready for my first sunny adventure, I hesitated. I wasn’t sure if I should wear clothing that would reveal it. Who was going to be there? Who would see? What would my in-laws think? Would I see someone from my company? I started to sweat uncomfortably as I contemplated going out in public baring my new skin and I was nervous to be in a bathing suit in front of my friends and family. After all the time (pain!) and money I spent on this, why was I suddenly wanting to hide it?

Because I was terrified that others were going to judge me.

That’s ugly. What a terrible idea. She’s going to regret that. That was dumb.

All of these anticipated judgments danced around in my head and I was hesitant to put myself in a position where others could say them. But I did this for ME, why did I care what anyone else thought?! Because their judgment echoed all the worries and concerns I held myself.

What if I did regret it some day?

What if I ended up hating it?

I had decided to push through those worries and do the damn thing anyway and while I felt resolved in my decision — obviously too late to back out now! — I didn’t want to hear those same things from other people. Those same judgments from others would only make me wonder

What if they’re right? What if I did make a mistake?

It was as if their criticisms would have the power to overwhlem my own resolve and convince me that I had, in fact, made a mistake.

Regardless of the big decision, the patterning is the same — we don’t want to tell people we got a divorce, changed jobs, quit practicing law, or got the tattoo because we don’t want to invite their judgment.

Furthermore, when we do receive those judgments, we allow them to erode our resolve. Their criticisms make us second-guess our own decisions.

Consider this common scenario that I see only about 100 times a week. When we tell someone that we don’t have capacity for more work or a new project and they respond by judging our hours or our workload — You only billed 50 hours last week…you’re not that busy… — we bristle because there is a part of us that wonders if that judgment is right. We allow their criticism to weaken our prior decision to reject more work. We take that criticism and start to wonder if perhaps we aren’t working enough and we should be working more. Their criticism hits a nerve because there is always a part of us that is judging ourselves for not taking on the work. There is a part of us that feels guilty for saying no and their criticism calls to that part of us.

And you know how we “fix” those feelings of guilt and self-judgment? We turn around and say yes to the project and take on more work. We backtrack on our own truth in order to feel better in the short term…and we all know how that one ends.

The foundation of our work in the Lawyer Life Collective is to live authentically. To honor the decisions we have made — good or bad — and to not judge ourselves for them. We commit to having our own back and to not being dissuaded by others and their judgments. Our motto is –

I am committing to being authentically me (AF)!

Any time we worry that we are being judged by others, it is a neon sign showing us our own work. The same goes for when we judge others but that’s a separate puzzle to sort out.

If your worries about others’ judgements are keeping you from honoring yourself, sign up for a free coaching consultation and start taking action to live more authentically!

When we take action, we will rarely feel 100% secure in our decision. Self-doubt is part of being human. Our work is to remain steadfast in our decisions and commit to following through even when others’ judgements echo our own self doubt.

Judgment from others and self-doubt is not a sign that you are doing it wrong, in fact, it may be a sign that you are evolving.

Today, commit to being authentically you even when others judge you. Recognize where others’ judgement bothers you because it echoes the judgments we hold for ourselves. Allow your own self-doubt to go with you on your journey of authenticity, it is part of your humanness and is not an indictment of your decisions. Stay the course!

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