We all know the popular game of “Truth or Dare”; at some point or other in our lives, we have played it. The bottle spins, it ends up pointing at you, you are asked if you want to answer a question, ANY question your peers want to ask, honestly (truth) or be given a daunting task instead (dare) like kissing someone in the circle of friends you are playing with or taking off your pants to show your naked butt. Ok. So we have all played this game – then it should be rather easy to answer the question how many times, statistically speaking, people choose “truth” and how many times they choose “dare”. It is amazing to see to what length people go accepting a dare just so that they can avoid being asked a question they would have to answer truthfully.
Why is that? Do people have a basic problem with telling the truth? Do we all have skeletons in the closet we don’t want anyone finding out about? Or do we secretly feel ashamed and insecure about ourselves and are scared that the others will JUDGE us?
I have recently published a post about the fact that you get judged by what you do for a living and in my case, that is being a doctor – as well as the truth behind that: The Truth About Being A Doctor . I have gotten a lot of great and interesting comments on it, hence I decided to take a closer look at why it is that we tend to judge others.
Truth or like – what’s up with the title? In a world where we engage with others much more through social media than we do in real life, I believe that the fear of judgement can be found in the “like” or “not like” button. It is pretty much a spin off from the “old” truth or dare game – with the difference that we feed others our own “truths” before they can actually get around to asking; we tend to post so much about how great our lives are, how much fun we have with our friends, how perfect our children are that our group of Peers doesn’t dare anymore to question those “truths” or ask us HOW WE REALLY ARE. Social media reality becomes reality. Maybe – just maybe – a huge motivation behind why we do this is that we DON’T WANT TO BE JUDGED – so we try to take as much influence over the “judgeable content” of our lives as we possibly can by posting, blogging, instagramming – you name it, we do it.
The question we would have to ask ourselves at this point is: why are we so sensitive to the judgement of others and do we do the same? Yep, folks. I am almost ashamed to admit the truth here: we all judge others. And we do so daily. You do it. I do it.
Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged
Who of you know your Bible? 😉 In Matthew 7:1 it says: Do not judge, or you will be judged. For with the same judgment you pronounce, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
Even if you are not a very religious person, this should speak to you – and I almost want to say: truer words were never written. Be aware that every time you judge someone, someone else is judging you. That doesn’t sound like a philantropic society, does it? Nah. But its nevertheless reality. We judge as we are being judged. Why? Our judgement on others shows our own weaknesses, soft-spots, and insecurities. Most judgments we make about people are based on lack of information. We make assumptions and judgments based on what we see, not on facts.
Judging others, as harsh as that may sound, makes us feel better about ourselves. You don’t like that thought? Let me give you an example. Say you are a parent and you have taken your children to the mall on a busy saturday (already quite a challenge, let me assure you). For a change, your kids don’t behave like little terrorist neanderthalers but are actually on their very best behaviour (admittedly, that might have to do with the promised trip to the toy store but hey, desperate times call for desperate measures ;-)). As you sit down at a Food Court to grab a bite to eat you spot another family with two kids about the age of your’s – and their kids are throwing tantrums, try to kill each other, roll on the floor and spill their food and drinks literally everywhere. In a situation like this ALL OF US have had the more or less conscious thought: I AM A GREAT MOM / DAD; WE ARE DOING A GREAT JOB AS PARENTS – BETTER THAN THEY ARE. You smile to yourself, at your spouse, at your kids and you FEEL GOOD. Congratulations. You have just shamelessly judged others by a mere appearance and its made you feel better about yourself! Why do we judge by appearance? Because society is teaching us that every single day, everywhere, real life, tv, social media – they tell us what is “acceptable” and “thumbs up” – and what isn’t. And in it’s endless repitition our minds are programmed into believing just that. We have pictures in our heads of what things and people are “supposed” to be like, look like, act like. We then freely and automatically make assumptions about others. We see someone who is dangerously overweight and has stains on his / her old unfashioned clothes and we think: unemployed, food stamps, no discipline. We see a slim, beautiful woman dressed in well tailored suit on high heels and think: success, exercise, health. It never once crosses our minds that all we see is an IMAGE and whats behind it may be a completely different story. And yet, we judge. Because its easier to judge by standards fed to us than thinking ourselves and bothering to find out the truth behind a facade. In short, we judge because we are lazy and ruled by the media.
Place the example above at a company picknick. You sit at a table with your colleagues and watch another colleague struggle with her kids. Or you see someone in clothes much too tight, or with their hair not done well or in an argument with their spouse. What happens? Take a guess. And no, the answer isn’t pretty.
We all feel insecure about something or another. We discuss people to feel better about ourselves. In a setting like this, we fall back into our teenage years and GOSSIP. Freely, unashamed. When you talk about someone else, most people will willingly join in the conversation to add their two cents. You BOND with each other over judging a third party thereby minimizing the risk of your own insecurities coming to light and being judged. Yes, my fellow humans. We are really THAT shallow. We are really that “guilty” of judgement .
Oftentimes when we judge, we know nothing about those people, we have no insight into why they dress, act, or talk the way they do, why they just got into a fight. All we know is that we see something about them that we consider being ‘wrong’, ‘different’ or ‘inappropriate’ – and in walks judgement. And then what? Well. Luckily we are not just unreflecting ogers who thrive on judging other people; we also possess a varying degree of empathy and conscience. Sometimes when we judge we start feeling bad for those we judge or about ourselves – and stop. Sometimes those we are judging find out and get hurt. What judging does – always and with no exception – is that it begets negativity in your heart and soul. At the end of the day, judgement – whether you are on the giving or receiving end – hurts someone, causes negative emotions and can potentially do a great deal of harm.
You may wonder: if judging others is such an integral part of society then HOW DO WE STOP?
I believe the answer isn’t that difficult. Start reflecting on yourself and be careful that you are authentic in what you let others see and know about yourself. If you feel confident about yourself – and not just all the “good stuff” but about all of your misgivings, your mistakes, your failures, your not-so-perfect-life, your less-than-perfect-children, your occassionally rocky relationship – you give people less room and less possibility to judge you. Start to ridden yourself of the need for the social approval of the masses. Ask yourself: do you REALLY care if your old high school friends see your facebook account and are IMPRESSED with your life? And what would be so earth shattering if they knew that yes, you love your wife and yes, you love your kids and yes, you have a great house, car etc – but yes, you fight about who takes out the trash and who does the laundry and yes, life gets in the way of your libido and yes, your favorite jeans are too tight and you have been too lazy or tired to get your ass up to exercise 😉
Get real. Be real. You only have this one life. Isn’t it exhausting to live in that land of make-believe? Wouldn’t you rather that people LIKE you for who you are, not who you CLAIM to be? There is no easy way to say this: People WILL judge. Those who do? Let them. It just means that they have nothing better else to do with their petty lives and small minds than finding the time and energy to judge someone else; and chances are – the ones that judge most are the ones who have the most “to hide”!
Watch yourself, please. And when you realize that you are judging – stop. Just stop. Stop “caring” if your neighbor’s yard is overgrown (and categorize him/her as lazy), stop caring about your colleague’s overweight (unless you have a real health concern); stop judging parents with screaming children or people with old clothes, stop looking down on people just so that you can feel better about yourself. For at the end of the day the ONLY thing that will make you feel better about yourself is this: in a game of truth or dare, you could say “truth” everytime because you are not scared of being judged, you have nothing to hide, you don’t feel ashamed. And in a TRUTH or LIKE world, take the first steps to UNJUDGEMENT.
Publish ONE post today that doesn’t show how perfect and great everything is; a picture or a post or a blog – anything really that is simply the unmasked truth.
Hard? Impossible? Okay, I will start! Here is my truth today:
I am letting my hair grow and right now, I look pretty much like an exploded squirrel. I haven’t gone to the gym in two weeks and there is really no excuse for that; inspite of promoting a healthier lifestyle and eating better I crave banana pancakes and bacon today and I have a hard time shaking memories of childhood abuse because last night’s dreams come back to me in flashes. And you know what? None of that makes me feel ashamed. I am me. This is my life. I am loved JUST AS I AM and I love people JUST FOR WHO THEY ARE.
Today I want to try not to judge once. And I am dying to find out how you are faring in that quest? Have you judged today? Have you felt judged? I am very much looking forward to hearing from you 🙂 please leave a comment below!