Do you ever feel like people are judging you?
If your answer was not yes, than clearly you are not paying attention.
People are judging you.
All of the time.
I mention judgment not to make you feel ever-more under a microscope ...but to ask a question I am curious about. Do you like or dislike being judged?
My answer I suppose is short and simple, I like being judged when it is positively and I do not like being judged when it is negatively. Might be human to feel so.
I think it fair to assume that we all like it when people tell us we did a good job or that we look nice or that we are funny. Conversely, we do not like it when we are told our perfume stinks, a blog post was lackluster or that one might feed their child a more balanced diet...as examples.
I am most curious about how judgment impacts me in my life whether it be personally or in my work.
Given that we tend to like the positive judgments and not the negative judgments, I think it fair to say that by right of needing negatives from which to declare representative positives (need a low so that we can measure high from it), we need to like being judged in order to allow the positive judgments to exist despite our dislike of negative judgments.
So, given that we like to be judged - never thought I would say that I do, really - then why do the positive judgments reduce in amplitude whilst the negative judgments are amplified?
How long after a compliment do you feel good?
How long after a criticism do you feel insecure or badly?
I get about a hour of buzz off of a compliment and then it simmers down to a lingering thumbs up kind of feeling within a day. However, if someone tells me that I suck, that can stay with me for a very long time. I can think of one case where it has been with me approximately 9940 days, or since I was 10 years old and in art class when I was told I am not good at drawing.
The next point of curiosity for me around judgment is in the origin and it's impact on outcomes.
If someone I trust judges me versus someone I know not as well, does the judgment have the same impact?
For me, if it is positive and coming from a stranger or someone who knows me well, the positive compliment carries about the same weight. If the comment is negative and from someone who knows me well it carries more weight than someone who does not know me well.
Why the imbalance between the weighting of known/stranger and compliment/criticism?
In the case of negative commentary, I suppose it comes back to the old question of whether or not you value the opinion of the person providing the perspective? If you generally trust the opinions of someone and they make a judgment of you, then you will tend to trust their judgment.
But, what about bias? For a situation, bias for positioning, bias due to experience? What about judgments made by people we trust as a result of something unknown to us. After all, we can never know someone else's biases fully. It would be impossible to assume that we could. So, given that we can never truly know what bias' are involved in a judgment, should we trust any judgments then?
We, as humans, use judgments to categorize and break down the mass of information which is thrown at us everyday into relatable and bite size pieces...that person is: pretty, smart, a jack ass, tall, wears too much colour etc. We use it to categorize inputs based on our past experiences - all relative to them and our experience in the world.
It recently occurred to me that I can not assume I know anyone else's experience in the world and as such, can not assess what pretty is to them relative to what? What tall is or nice is or something that tastes good or bad is. I cannot tell how big my nose has to be in order to qualify as a big nose.
I am often asked how I can live my life the way that I do, quite free and with little fear of judgment.
My answer is this. I know not what those who judge me know. I know only myself and that my judgments are often flawed due to the fact that humanity and lack of infinite experience limits my absolute judgment from being exact. So, if I judge despite knowing... then how is it that I should take anyone else's judgment at full weight?
Perhaps when new information comes to light, opinions will be changed?
Isn't it all just a continuum of learning where we all try our best to cope with the world around us by categorizing... and that our own fear of judgment is ultimately rooted in our own knowing of how flawed our own judgment is?
So, next time you feel insecure about something or very secure about something - reflect on what component of that is based on judgment that does not come from within... and then perhaps you can see how your life could unfold free of judgment.
After all - for me, the judgment which has guided me best has been that of myself, free of other's interpretation of what/who I might be or become. When I look at my own self and judge against what I know I could be, want to be, am prepared to work to do...all of the other judgment is just noise in the way of my living-into the fullness of myself, who I am at my best and what I can do when I am my best.
A personal note to me:
So, self, stick this post in your pipe and smoke it the next time you sit down to do some work you think is going to be judged. Do the work and then share it, free of the fear of how it will be categorized by others through their judgments. The judgment that matters is the one you make after the last period has been written.