How To Say Goodbye To The Pain Of Feeling Judged

judgediiFeeling judged could well have been my client’s specialist subject.  For a long time it was mine, too. But that is hardly surprising. Most people who have been harshly judged in their lives – especially if feeling judged happened to them in childhood – have a tremendous fear of feeling judged again. They dread experiencing a repetition of the painful thing that has already happened to them. Precisely because they have a fear of feeling judged, that fear is constantly present for them. So it does not take much for them to feel judged. This week, a client told me about her unfortunate experience of feeling judged.  She met someone socially who asked her some questions that she found awkward.

Feeling judged to be fundamentally flawed

“It was as if this person could see right into my mind.” she said.  “They knew that I couldn’t defend myself.  They obviously knew that I was easy prey.” My client was deeply distressed by the episode.  It ruined what could otherwise have been a  great evening out.  Needless to say, it was not the first time that she had ended up feeling judged – and humiliated, and vulnerable. Since my client had a pattern of coming away from encounters feeling judged and bruised, it made sense to look at her pattern of feelings.  She, after all, is the common denominator in all her encounters. My client took her experience to mean that there must be something wrong with her; she must be fundamentally flawed. I take it to mean that she has a belief about herself (or a small sackful of beliefs) that keeps reactivating old wounds.  You cannot have a pattern of painful beliefs without having been badly wounded In the first place. For myself, I try not to carry a sackful of beliefs around with me.  For years and years, I carried a very heavy sack-load.  All it ever did was give me back-pain.  Now, I travel light.  Less is more.  I now carry just a small “capsule” wardrobe of beliefs – positive beliefs. One of those key capsule beliefs is this: You can always heal from old wounds and old scars. As a child, my client had been “easy prey”. What child is not, when faced with a damaging adult? However, as an adult, my client is free to choose to believe quite different things about herself. We talked about the old belief that she was easy prey.  We agreed that she did not want to live the rest of her life as a hostage to that belief.  Even she in her currently misery knew that she deserved much better than that. We talked, also, about some of the things this other person had – allegedly -intuited about her, that had left her feeling judged. I pointed out to her that I had no way of knowing whether or not her perception was accurate, and the other person was, indeed, deliberately trying to wound her.  But, in the end, that was not terribly important.  What we needed to focus on was her response .  I added that I could see that she was doing The Feeling Judged 3-Step, and it was not working for her.

The Feeling Judged 3-Step

My client, obligingly, asked me, “What is The Feeling Judged 3-Step?” “It’s an incredibly common little dance. Most of us do it without even being aware that we do it. “Here how it goes. The set-up for the Feeling Judged 3-Step occurs when you meet someone. You may be meeting them for the first time, or they may be someone you already know. Either way, you have two dialogues going on; the external one, and the “What-do-they-think-of-me?” one inside your own head. “Step 1 You feel that they are judging you. “Step 2  You decide that they must be thinking about you the thing you least want them to think. (In other words, you project your worst fear into them, and into their mouth.) “Step 3 You start to feel TERRIBLE because you are feeling judged so harshly by this other person. “ My client made me go through the whole scenario three times before she could finally internalize it. Then she said: “OMG! So that’s why these people always know exactly how to push my buttons! And I thought that they had some kind of laser vision into my heart! Really it has been something I have been doing to myself – and I had no idea I was doing it.” There will always be people out there who judge you – for their own reasons. But feeling judged is another matter entirely. As Eleanor Roosevelt didn’t exactly say: “Nobody can make you feel judged without your pre-empt.”  You really don’t have to do the Feeling Judged 3-Step.  You can always change your footwork – and your feel-work.
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