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7 Realizations to Help You Deal with Feeling Judged

“Judge nothing, you will be happy. Forgive everything, you will be happier. Love everything, you will be happiest.” ~Sri Chinmoy

Are you judgmental? Not many people would be aware if they were, let alone admit to being so, but it’s so easy to form an opinion about a person or situation without knowing all the facts.

What if the conclusions people spring to could really hurt someone? I like to think there are very few people who would actively want to upset others. Has someone passed judgment on you? What can you do if you feel misunderstood?

I want to share with you an unpleasant situation I was in recently, which has had a great impact upon my personal growth.

A few years ago in my thirties, I was in a car accident that caused me some spinal damage and exacerbated a pre-existing pelvic condition, subsequently leaving me initially in a wheelchair.

Currently, I am at a stage where I can now stand unaided and potter around a bit, but I still rely on a wheelchair or crutches for more than short periods of standing or walking.

One evening my partner surprised me with theatre tickets. I hadn’t been getting out much—outings now need to be meticulously planned—so I was really excited.

We were lucky enough to be able to park in the disabled bays right outside the venue (I am registered disabled and have a badge). We sat in the car and discussed whether I should take my crutches inside, as I was quite anxious about blocking the aisles. We decided that with his support I would manage the few steps inside without them.

The first upset of the evening was getting out of the car. A man queuing for a space behind wound down his car window and shouted that we should be ashamed of ourselves for parking there. We clearly didn’t “look” disabled and we literally “made him sick.” Hmmm.

This wasn’t the first time something like this had happened. I have a hidden disability, and unless I am in a wheelchair or using an aid, I look perfectly “normal” and am (relatively) young.

I tried to concentrate on the show for the first half, but the evening had been ruined for me by then. In the interval I needed the bathroom. The female bathrooms are down two flights of stairs (no elevator), which I couldn’t manage, so I went into the disabled bathroom on the ground floor.

When I came out, there was a queue of old ladies.

The first lady in the queue took one look at me and declared to her friend in a loud voice “young people are so lazy nowadays.” She looked at me and said “there’s nothing wrong with your legs,” and rapped me across my ankles with her walking stick! I went home in tears.

This evening affected me emotionally for weeks.

Although I shouldn’t need to justify myself to others, I would have been happy to answer genuine questions about my health instead of being met with accusations and aggression, but after much reflection I realized that forgiveness was the only way to move forward.

The points below really helped me to come to terms with how judgmental people can be.

1. The only person who can know the absolute truth about you is you.

People can and will have opinions, but never start to doubt yourself. Have absolute faith in who you are and don’t let another’s “idea” of you become your reality.

2. Ultimately, the opinion that really matters is yours. 

If somebody doesn’t agree with what you are doing or how you are behaving, don’t feel pressured into changing. Have the courage of your convictions, even when others disagree or don’t understand.

3. People can’t “make” you feel anything.

I felt ashamed after being judged so harshly. I felt my body had failed me, putting me in that situation, and shame soon spiraled into self-loathing. I recognize now that these are feelings I had underlying anyway, and the situation just bought them to the surface. I know now we can choose how we want to feel and I choose to be happy.

4. Someone else’s judgment will be far more important to you.

It is so easy to dwell on things, but putting negative energy into running a scenario over and over in your mind is detrimental to your health. Although I found their remarks about me hurtful for weeks afterward, I doubt if the old lady or the man above ever gave me a second thought. Focus your energy on the positive things.

5. We don’t need to try to read people’s minds.

If we do not have compete trust in our actions, it can be easy to sense disapproval from others that may not even be there and then unnecessarily alter our actions accordingly. If you want an honest opinion, ask. Clear communication is far easier than second-guessing.

6. Forgiveness sets you free.

I am an honest person, and having my integrity brought into question momentarily resulted in anger and bitterness. Harboring this would ultimately have had absolutely no effect on anybody else but me. By forgiving, I have freed myself from this situation. Learn to accept an apology even if, especially if, it’s not actually offered.

7. Compassion changes everything.

People with limited vision and steadfast opinions will have a harder life than me. I send them love. Everyone deserves kindness. Always.

I hope you never find yourself being unfairly judged, or indeed forming an opinion of your own without all the facts, but if you do I hope my story can help you.

Photo by Arry_B

Avatar of Louise Jensen

About Louise Jensen

Louise Jensen is an award winning holistic therapist. A regular writer, Louise has overcome living with a disability and has 12 years of experience helping others to heal. Louise recently co-created The Happy Starfish, an online community dedicated to celebrating health, happiness and peaceful living.

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  • Jamey

    Reading this was such a nice start to my day! I ,too dwell on negative interactions for weeks at a time and there’s absolutely no point in it. I can only have control over myself and my reaction to the situation. It’s such a sad thing to contribute to that negative energy with more negativity. It is best to nurture yourself and others with love ,and leave aside the anger and bitterness that consumes this planet.

  • Sher

    I know that all to well. I have multiple sclerosis. And though I am not in a chair I do have days I can’t walk good. I get so tired if hearing “but you don’t look sick” Not to sure what sick looks like.

  • Roger

    Thanks for this, it’s SO helpful to me. I really needed this today!

  • Mimi

    I was shocked to read how you were treated. Glad to see you chose to rise above it. They know not what they do. Best regards.

  • Padmini

    I am so glad you chose not to dwell on it any longer. As an Anthropologist we say, “no one can ever have the perfect information in this world” and that all forms of knowledge is just an interpretation informed by the limited knowledge one has and the world view one holds. This however cannot ever stop any human being from forming an opinion, however flawed it be. With more information that opinion may or may not change depending on our how strong our prejudices are and how compelling the information is. We will invariably judge and be judged, often wrongly. We can either choose to try and provide more information to change or in most cases just ignore it (because frankly it is not worth the effort!) But in any case, like you said, it need not be a reflection of us, nor ever become our reality. Nice post:)

  • Li-ling

    Gosh what an experience! Sadly we are all usually too quick to judge but it’s wonderful to see how you’ve taken all those negatives and turned them around. Thank you for bravely sharing your story.

  • Jeet

    e-Hugs for Louise (in case you’re reading this)!

  • http://www.sixsimplerules.com/ David Singer/SixSimpleRules

    Excellent Louise! This is so true “Although I found their remarks about me hurtful for weeks afterward, I doubt if the old lady or the man above ever gave me a second thought.” Thanks for this piece.

  • lv2terp

    Thank you for sharing your story, being vulnerable, and sharing the tips you have learned to let go, and be happy :) I really am grateful for these types of reminders, it is easy to fall into the trap of forgetting other people’s stories/facts, and jump to conclusions. Wonderful post! :)

  • al

    this is inspiring. that is exactly what im dealing with, speaking to my body, to every part of this beloved being that i am, in order to let it know constantly that i care about it, i love myself, we can interact w/ourselves with no judgment, just by asking how do you feel. im learning how -to stay- in every feeling, without naming it nor thinking about it. just being present in my present allows me to develop compassion towards myself. a sudden twist in my stomach can tell me more than anything else if i will be patient enough to listen. we were beloved even before we were born. we all deserve to be happy. we are responsible to take that happiness, always being respectful to life and grateful for everything we are, we feel, we can do.
    thanks for your words. really, u made my day.

  • Tracy

    I needed this at exactly this moment and I can’t thank you enough for your wisdom. If I hadn’t read this today, I would have been exceedingly bitter, for a long, long time. Thank you. Love & hugs.

  • Caspar Thomas

    Hi Louise. I’m really sorry to hear that you had this experience, but also happy that you found a way to get over it and learn from it. Personally I am plagued by the feeling of being judged by others and find it very hard to deal with. I have also thought a lot about it, but don’t find your 7 points to work for me. I’ll explain:

    1) What if you don’t like who you are? What if somebody judges you harshly, and they are right to do so?
    2) Other people’s opinions DO matter. If you are convinced you are Napoleon and everyone around you is telling you you aren’t, then perhaps they have a point.
    3) People CAN make you feel all sorts of things. If people judge you harshly consistently, you will begin to lose confidence and self-esteem and be made to feel lowly, angry and frustrated.
    4) I wasn’t too sure what you meant by “Someone else’s judgment will be far more important to you.”
    5) I once asked a girl if she would be my girlfriend, because I thought that being straight might avoid a lot of potential misunderstandings. She laughed at me and I have since discovered that everything has to be unspoken and it is all about chemistry etc. So clear communication was completely inappropriate in this situation.
    6) How can you possibly accept an apology if it is not offered?! And if someone has judged you harshly, for example you are rejected by a potential partner or employer, they have no reason to apologise. They made a judgement that you weren’t good enough for them. That hurts and forgiveness isn’t even relevant in that scenario.
    7) You may be right on that one, but it is very hard to be compassionate towards people who have caused you upset.

    Thanks again for your piece. I hope this doesn’t come across as negative, just an immediate response from someone who is completely sick of being judged and has found no practical way to deal with it that rings true.

  • Rampal

    I dont know how this is happening, but this is 3rd time I had some issue, I would stop by here and guess what there’s solution to my problem :-)
    only I need to do is to revive all these thoughts which seems bit hard

    Anyways thank you so much !!

  • http://www.facebook.com/julie.kelty.7 Julie Kelty

    Thank you so much for writing this, I have a severe back injury and also have a wheelchair and crutches, and like you, can walk very short distances without any aids, but, I feel that if I go out in public,without any aids people are judging me, by thinking that I am not that bad. I am quite young too,, and live on a small island where people gossip. Thanks, this has helped. xx

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=526568263 David St Michael

    I really like this article and can truly relate to it. I, too, don’t appear disabled, but when someone finds out, I get met with varying degrees of wacky judgements. Thankfully, I was raised around REALLY strong women who knew how to put people in their place and I’ve no hesitation in doing so…gently and respectfully. I look people in the eyes and tell them point blank what is the truth, but I rarely do it with anger or malice. You have no idea how disarming this can be, most of the time.
    So, yes forgiveness is essential. But, so is courage and wisdom. We will always encounter others who honestly have no clue what they’re saying or doing. The focus, for me, is how am I to navigate through all of this ignorance as best I can.
    Peace and thank you for an important article. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Thank you Jamey. It’s absolutely true we can only have control over ourselves, took me a while to accept this though.

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Thank you Roger. Hope you day has been ok.

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Yes Sher. I look “normal” apparently. Never sure if that’s a compliment or not!

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Thanks David. I have found your comment really inspiring,

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Thanks Julie. I have been through the stage when I felt guilty for going out without them, now I am proud I can :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Fate! :-)

  • Angela

    I’m embarrassed for the people who treated you so cruelly. And it reminds me I need to work on that, myself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Hi Caspar, thanks for the feedback. 1-3, I think when you get to a place of accepting yourself and loving yourself exactly as you are these fall in to place. 4) that was not my subheading but was changed in editing, but the essence is people make throw away comments and never think of them again. If we choose to replay these over and over in our heads we are only hurting ourselves. Again self-love is needed. 5) that is a really hurtful reaction but at least you know where you stand with her. 6) I found historically that if I was not offered an apology when I felt “wronged” I couldn’t let go the way I could if I received a sorry. In this situation now I send love and forgiveness as if I had an apology and move on. 7) I think once I stopped taking things personally and recognised people like this don’t know me, it’s just their reality of me it became easier.

    I hope this makes sense?

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Right back at you :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Awesome Al.

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Thanks so much.

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Thank you David.

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Of course. Hugging you back :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Thank you :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Wow. Love that take. Thank you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Thanks Mimi.

  • Caspar Thomas

    To some extent. It seems to me that the crux of what you are saying is that if you love yourself, it doesn’t matter what others say or do because YOU know you’re OK. I just think that that is a pretty major prerequisite.

  • http://www.smartlysmitten.blogspot.Com/ Terez

    Louise, thank you for writing such an inspired article! Being an African-American man, I’ve had to deal with people judging me without knowing me my entire life. My grandmother once told me to not only forgive the ignorance of others, but also strive to be excellent in everything I did. I agree with you that only we know the entire truth about ourselves – and that is the only opinion that really matters.

  • Susan Penn

    Hi Louise, First, thank you for writing this article. This is something all humans experience on both sides of the equation. I am grateful for your wisdom in seeing this, and, it is inspiring to me how you opened yourself to self compassion through awareness of the residue: shame and judgement. Thank you!

  • Johanna_Galt

    Hi Caspar. I can relate with what you’re saying and I sympathize. It’s hard not to be impacted by other people’s judgments when you don’t think too highly of yourself to begin with. You CAN change how you feel about yourself though, and I strongly encourage you to try. Letting other people determine how you feel about yourself is like giving away your power. The thing is, you could ask ten different people what they think about you and get 10 different answers. One thing I’m beginning to realize is that others’ judgments say a lot more about THEM than it actually does about ME. Another thing that I realized recently is that no matter what I do, there are going to be people who are going to be cruel and judgmental. Just look at celebrities — even people I think are beautiful and talented and flawless get attacked and slandered all the time. One one hand it’s sad, but on the other it’s really freeing, because it makes me realize that it really ISN’T about me at all. I’ll never be able to please everyone, so I might as well stop trying. I hope some of this makes sense — I could just relate to your first comment a lot, and this is something I’ve been working a lot on lately with (some) success, so I wanted to offer you some encouragement. Take your power back! :)

  • Johanna_Galt

    Thanks for sharing this Louise. People really can be SO cruel. It’s heartbreaking. I’m glad you were able to rise above the pettiness though and use it to help others like myself. It really does come down to self love. As long as we’re looking to other people to tell us we’re “okay,” we’ll be slaves our whole lives. I’ve been working on this a lot lately and still have a ways to go before I can honestly say I don’t care what others think, but I at least am not undone by someone looking at me the “wrong” way or saying a thoughtless comment anymore. Your article gives me ammunition to keep working :)

  • http://relationship-consciousness.webs.com/ Claude Lagang

    One quote that popped out in my mind was:
    “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
    - Eleanor Roosevelt

    This so true! For me I firmly believe that even how hard you try to please everybody, some of them will find it wrong. Even how hard you tried explaining to them what was exactly happen, some of them will still finds way to make it ridiculous; those people don’t deserve your existence. Just live the life you always wanted :)

    NICE BLOG! Have a great day.

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Thanks Claude, you too :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Hi Johanna. I have just posted a blog you may be interested in called I’m not ok (and thats ok). http://www.thehappystarfish.com/blogspot.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Thank you Susan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Hi Terez, your grandmother sounds a wise woman :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Hi Angela. It’s sooo easy to make split second judgements and I think we are all guilty of this from time to time. Be kind to yourself :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Absolutely but it took me 40 years to get to this place so I know it’s not easy for everyone but it can be done. Do you meditate at all Caspar?

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Fantastic reply :-)

  • Jennifer

    The other side of this issue, though, is to not judge the people who judged you. That’s harder.

    Many of us suffer from an invisible disability, and perhaps it’s our challenge to just let things go. For instance, the likely reason the man in the car gave you a hard time is the unfortunate fact that many perfectly able-bodied people do, in fact, use the disabled parking spot. This wasn’t the case with you, but hey, I could see where he was coming from, though I’d agree he had little right to speak his mind out loud. There was little you could do to set him straight – but that wasn’t the case with the women in-line for the washroom. I recall attending a fitness class for “older” women when I was just in my 30s; I overheard some of the women making derogatory comments, so I simply went over and politely set them straight. I explained that I was recovering from a serious illness and had spoken with the instructor about attending. It isn’t always necessary to simply “turn the other cheek” – and sometimes it’s not even the best thing to do if doing so doesn’t sit right with you.

    Thanks for considering.

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Hi Jennifer, you are absolutely right. If I was in the same place then that I am now my reaction would probably be very different.

  • Eliza

    Thank you! I really needed this today :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    Thanks Eliza.

  • http://www.lalitaalaalitah.com/ श्रीमल्ललितालालितः

    Thanks for penning down your experiences and conclusions. Reading them will help me whenever I start doubting myself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/louise.jensen.9843 Louise Jensen

    You’re very welcome.

  • elizabethhalford

    This post is so perfect for me right now. I have a profoundly disabled daughter, but because she’s only 4, her wheelchair looks more like a stroller. We get stares all the time and people try to prevent us from using her “stroller” in places. it’s really tiring to have to keep explaining that she can’t walk. So thank you for this!

  • Julián

    Thank you, I actually needed to read this. I have a very good friend, but I just feel he criticizes everything everyone do, sometimes it just becomes pretty annoying. Why can’t he let things just be? Oh well…

  • Angie

    I so needed this today. I was feeling discouraged about being judged at church (of all places) just because I can’t be there every time the doors are open. The judgers don’t take the time to realize there are a million reasons why people may not be able to come… good reasons, fair reasons, painful reasons…

    I try my best to never judge others, after all we don’t know their circumstances or the pain they are hiding.

    Now I’m forgiving…. thank you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/derekcaldwell Derek A Caldwell

    very kind words Al. you seem very sincere. keep contributing. :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/jordana.quezada Jordana Quezada

    Your story helped me a lot! Thank you very much. I have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, and have taken a big leap forward away from it through buddhist philosophy and stories like yours! I plan on reviewing those points regularly.

  • Meg Celis

    I have experienced the problem with others judging me…. over and over again to the point that I have become callous. And sometimes when someone has judged me wrongly, my response becomes pure unadulterated rage. I can’t even imagine a woman rapping me with a cane, she would have wished to God she didn’t (not physical assault, but a very well calculated verbal one). How do you get from being overly sensitive to thick shinned without crashing right into overly self-protective and mean as hell? I don’t know.

  • BloodElfMohawk

    I really needed this article today. This is the kind of thing I’ve been dealing with for most of my life, but recently even more so. I’m now in therapy because I’ve realized that a lot of my insecurities, usually brought on my other people’s opinions of me have been ingrained in my head since as far back as I can remember, and I’m almost 40! I’ve let these insecurities be the biggest factor in why I haven’t been able to focus in studies, work, or get into the career that I’ve always wanted to get into. Seems like this issue is now being brought to the surface in this period of time, so articles like this are a good reality check. Thanks and keep ‘em comin’.

  • Mwani

    Thank you so much for this post, I really needed it. I had a hard time dealing with feeling judged in some critical situations, but I feel like this really helped me a lot. It’s hard when you feel like others are judging you especially in ways that you don’t feel are consistent with your true self. I suppose it’s important to let that go. Thank you.

  • Cynthia M Camacho

    Hi,im questionalable,isnt budda or buddism a form of a certain religion wich in cristianity(which im a cristian myself)has proved not to worship false idols!n continues to believe these are a cult organization. I do have a disabled brother,whose in a wheelchair,n im mentally diabled,i reply because this page was opened,n i refuse to allow my 19yr old daughter start believing,n finding comfort in buddism,not critiszising,strongly clarrifying,concerned mom,mrs.stranger

  • http://twitter.com/lori_deschene Lori Deschene

    Hi there,

    I didn’t write this post but I run the site, so I thought I’d respond to your question. Although it’s called “Tiny Buddha,” it’s not a site about Buddhism. It’s a site about wisdom, with some Buddhist themes (including mindfulness, non-attachment, and compassion).

    There are readers from all different religious traditions in the community here, so you can rest assured your daughter won’t read anything that recommends she abandon her faith!

    Lori

  • I dont get it

    Why did you let those people do those things to you? Just tell them that you have a disabillity they cant see. Im very sorry this had to happen to you and glad you found a way to cope.

  • Dash

    It feels so good to read this

  • emcgreevy

    This was great advice, but what if the person someone you were dating when said person passed judgement on me? It obviously affected him so deeply that he stopped dating me. But he never told me about it and then we became friends. Finally, he told me, but didn’t want to talk about it or let me explain or even apologize. And now, I find I can’t get past it. I can’t understand why someone who has judged me so harshly would still want to be friends with me. Maybe that person isn’t really being a friend and maybe that’s what bothers me. :/

  • Brandon Roberts

    a nice start i like nice people but it’s easy to make yourself sad or mad and i realize why caring too much about other peoples things

  • Gracy t

    Thank you so much, I was feeling judged by my mum for the the last few days and this really helped me, it’s true a lot of it’s in my head, it’s good to be reminded to have more courage in my convictions and to realise that no-one, even my own dear mum know what’s really going on within me.