We’ve all been there: a friend, family member or acquaintance said something about us and really hurt our feelings. If you’re a highly sensitive person, it’s even harder for you to handle judgment. The good news is: you can make it easier for yourself.
‘When someone judges the road you’re taking, lend them your shoes.’ This proverb is a nice reminder for anyone who would like to care less about other people’s judgment. One of the most important things in life is to do what makes you happy. Even if it means being different.
Need for harmony
The difficulty is that people have a natural tendency to judge. Especially if you choose to go your own way, you may encounter hurtful opinions, lack of understanding and judgment. They can make you feel really small, especially when you’re highly sensitive and need harmony and peace. A judgmental look, mean smirk or a bad vibe can lead you to a downward spiral.
People who are highly sensitive, think a lot. Other people’s judgment can remain in their heads for days. Am I doing something wrong? Am I crazy? Why do people judge me? Does it matter that I do things differently than my friend or family member? Why can’t people see me for who I am, just for who they want me to be? This self doubt can drive us crazy.
Many highly sensitive people handle the doubt by adjusting. They are very empathetic and do the best they can to understand others and meet their needs. It’s their way to keep the peace, and it shows how sensitive and well-intentioned they are. But in the end, it makes them cross their own boundaries, time and time again. It’s important not to let other people’s judgment determine what you think, and do what feels right for you.
Be true to yourself
It’s incredibly hard not to care about what others think, yet very important. Sometimes, criticism is constructive, or friends mean well with their judgment. Of course, it’s wise to listen to them. But once you feel their judgment isn’t just, it’s even more important to put it aside. That way, you make sure the judgment doesn’t bring you down, and you stay true to yourself.
How to handle other people’s (unjust) judgment
1. Take a deep breath
Make sure you don’t get into a heated discussion. Keep your distance and discuss how you feel with a good friend before you carefully decide how to react. Distance makes a situation less complicated and allows you to calmly express your feelings.
2. Depersonalize the judgment
It’s wise to think about this: chances are the judgment has to do with the person giving their opinion, rather than it has to do with you.
3. See through the charade
People with severe opinions about others, often have a low self esteem. If you don’t accept yourself unconditionally, with all your flaws, you can’t accept anyone else. Putting labels on people or judging them, is a way for them to control you. By realizing this, you can put the judgment aside.
4. Talk about what’s bothering you
Possibly, they don’t know what their judgment feels like to you. By expressing what’s bothering you, you allow them to explain their behavior. It brings you peace, because your intentions are pure. If they react compassionately, the two of you might reach a new level of connection.
5. Focus on people who do support you
It’s impossible to satisfy everyone around you. Don’t waste your energy on hostilities and negativity, but find the people and situations that actually make you happy.
Text: Joanne Wienen - Photo: Carolina Heza