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MicroJudgments what they are and what to do about them
Work/Life Balance

MicroJudgments what they are and what to do about them 

Every day, I talk to different clients from all walks of life and listen to their stories—the ones they make up about themselves and the ones they make up about others, and even more relevant for what I’m sharing here are the ones that we’ve all inherited from the world around us. Today, I speak specifically of the concept of judgment. 

When we think of judgment, we typically think of something very obvious, like someone being judged for the color of their skin or their sexual orientation, and those are absolutely horrible things for anyone to experience. So I just want to preface that beforehand and make sure they are not overlooked as these are truly terrible and no one should be experiencing this kind of discrimination. 

Today, I want to share about a different type of judgment: let’s zoom in on the millions of tiny judgments that take place throughout any typical person’s day. I’m talking about what I call “micro judgments,” the ones that are less obvious. In my opinion, these are equally dangerous as the more obvious judgments because they are more covert. Since they are not glaringly obvious, they are often overlooked, and when we overlook things, we are not aware that we’re doing the behavior. 

Behaviors can only be changed when we become aware of them. 

Most people are judging themselves and others on a regular basis and not even realizing it. These “micro judgments” are seeds that get planted in the subconscious and often take root deep inside and we are not aware of them. That’s what makes them dangerous—they’re sneaky. 

For example, when a straight-A student comes home with a B on a report card and their parent asks them why in the world there’s a B on there, there’s a little jab of judgment for the one thing that isn’t “perfect” and the expectation that they should have done better (cue future therapy sessions consisting of “I’m not good enough” belief patterns and perfectionistic tendencies). Or how about when your significant other says something like “You really shouldn’t be eating that”? Even though they are most likely looking out for you, it becomes another little seed in the subconscious that says you’re not lovable the way you are. Or when you’re little and the other kids tell you that you can’t come play in their fort… This is yet another seed that could create the belief “I don’t belong.” Or how about on a bigger scale—“You can only be part of our religion if you believe and behave exactly like this”? This could create a belief of “It’s not safe to be me.” 

Here’s a personal example that you might relate with: I recently was feeling unwell and when I was feeling a little better, I decided to go to the gym. I was still rather weak so I chose to use really light weights during the weight training class. Someone walked by me and said, “You’re never going to get in shape with those tiny weights.” I felt my heart sink as she spoke those words. It had taken so much energy for me to just get to the gym that day! I had felt proud of myself for just getting myself there, until an outside source tried to plant a negative judgment. And to be honest, it unfortunately worked. For a couple weeks, I avoided the class, because the seed did get in and then it wasn’t just her saying mean things to me, I started saying mean things to myself too! Of course, I know that the only reason she said that to me was because she likely says those mean things to herself. Intellectually, I know enough about human behavior and psychology to know it wasn’t about me. But if we look even deeper into my own psyche, I believed and took it in because I already had a seed of insecurity and “I’m not good enough” in there and all she did was give it a big dose of fertilizer and it grew so quickly!

Of course, I did my inner work around this and got to a place of kindness and compassion towards myself. I mustered up the courage to go back to the gym, and again used light weights because well, I hadn’t been to the gym in a while! So, I hope you’re seeing the double whammy impact here of this seemingly insignificant micro judgment. Even though I knew this was her stuff that she was projecting onto me, I still had allowed it to affect me, and I (temporarily) stopped looking after my body because of it! If I had not done that inner work, I probably would have stopped going to the gym by making clever excuses like I didn’t have time, etc. instead of being aware that this is simply unhelpful judgment that came my way and unfortunately got bigger inside of me. 

Thinking on your own life, how many examples can you find of ways someone else’s judgment has impacted you? How about how your own judgments have stopped you from moving forward and doing something you love or something that’s good for you simply because you have some sort of subconscious belief that you’re not good enough, blah, blah, blah? It’s an epidemic of judgmentalness out there!

So, what to do about it? 

Well, I sat with this for a while and I did come up with a solution. It’s a simple and powerful one that is totally free. The solution to judgments is to counteract it with a huge dose of love, compassion, and kindness. 

Humans do grow when we are pushed (unfortunately). The student that got the B could push themselves to only have As after that experience. And humans also give up and/or rebel when they are pushed too. That student could also go the route of dropping out of school because they felt too pressured or felt bad about themselves. 

But guess what love, kindness, and compassion do? They only do positive things. They help us grow. They nurture us. They nourish us. They encourage us when we fall down. They give us a hug and say, “I know that was a hard lesson, and you’re so powerful and capable, try again.” They say, “Your best changes from day to day and that’s alright; you’re doing great.” 

So, full circle with my gym story… Guess what happened after I did my inner work and got myself back to the gym, and was kind to myself as I lifted the little weights again? The sweetest person came up to me and said, “I’m so glad you’re here. I like seeing you in this class with me, and it feels good to be with other people who want to take good care of themselves.” Wow. How kind, and compassionate, and loving! Do you think that makes me want to go to the gym more? Of course it does! Another double whammy in a positive direction. 

Because we cannot control what others say and do, let’s focus on the self judgments. What if every time I said something negative to myself, I also became aware of it, forgave myself, and replaced that with kindness, love, and compassion to myself?  Yeah. I’d be a lot happier, right? It’s simple, and powerful.  

You’d be a lot happier too. 

You’re doing great. 

I love you. 

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