All of us, at some point in our day, feel judged or at least feel like we might be judged, if we do something wrong or inappropriate and this is causing people a variety of problems like social anxiety, fearfulness and most of all its holding people back from being who they are supposed to be.
As a teacher, I witness these problems all the time, students who refuse to stand up and contribute from fear of making a mess of it and looking foolish. Even as adults, this fear is well known. We all know the feeling of walking into a room, late and everyone looks at us or when we must speak in front of a group of people and our bodies let us know, in their own special way, that people are watching and this could be disastrous.
We are undermined by this fear that others are judging us and that those judgements are doing us harm.
So what is the harm, let’s look at this for a moment.
You stand up to say your thoughts on the topic for discussion, it turns out your mouth wasn’t on board with the idea so you stutter and splutter, till you go red in the face and wish the floor would swallow you whole.
It’s fair to say, you did not communicate clearly and now other people are looking at you. You can see their embarrassment and discomfort for you and they are clearly not impressed. So what?
Does this now mean, everyone in the audience on this day will now have enough data to confidently judge that you are, in fact, an idiot, whose ideas are useless and that you clearly have the communications skills of a dead fish.
Well, this is what we have been taught to believe and the reason we believe it, is because we actively participate in this way of being. We all do it, we use that one incident to label, categorise and judge people. “OMG have you seen what she is wearing?”
“Did he really fall off his chair in the cafeteria?”
“Did you hear his presentation… talk about dull.”
This culture of putting others down and pointing out our flaws serves in one way. It serves us by putting another below us and thereby makes us feel or seem better. In the classroom we call this ‘stealing from my happiness bucket.’ We use the analogy of a bucket that we store our happiness in. When our bucket is full we are pleasant and joyful creatures, but when it’s getting low, we try to steal from each other’s buckets, by making them unhappy. This results in everyone being unhappy, as they say ‘misery loves company.’
The ‘I am better than you’ attitude only serves the self, it’s competitive rather than collaborative. If you want to live in a world where, people put each other down to make themselves feel significant then keep this hard and fast judgement culture going, but if you want a collaborative culture where we find the good in each other and cultivate each other, then we need to take steps to change. And you’ve, guessed it, it starts with us. Maharishi Mahesh yogi said, “The world is as we are,” I take this to mean that however we behave, individually we make up the world, so if we want to challenge a culture of criticism we first need to change our mind set from looking for flaws to looking for something to praise and mean it when you say it.
I want us to challenge this damaging behaviour, are you with me?