I'm sure there have been times when you've been walking towards someone and you've felt their eyes quickly scanning you up and down. It's disconcerting, isn't it! Are they checking out your clothes, your dress sense, your size; what's going on? And if you thought you were walking into a pleasant relaxed environment, perhaps meeting a friend, it makes for an even more disappointing scenario. What's going on! Why are they doing this!
- Superficial judgements and assessments happen all the time though. We've no doubt expressed a, 'whatever were they thinking!' on occasion when we've seen someone wearing an outrageous outfit or struggled to conceal an amused, 'did they think it was fancy dress!' at times!
And yet don't we love to see someone who has their own distinctive style carrying it off with panache? Outrageous touches often make someone an unforgettable centre of attention. And we ourselves may even seek out that rare and unusual look at times, trawl markets and charity shops for a special, unique piece of jewellery or an accessory that gives our look an exciting flourish. We may want to be different, stylish, original and yet do we sometimes experience negativity from others when we try?
Are they jealous, do they want to be The fashion guru, the one with the quirky touch in our social group? Certainly, giving someone who's trying to be different a withering look can bring them, especially if they're a little nervous, back into line and potentially shake their confidence in trying again.
- And what about us? Are there times when we feel intimidated as a consequence of second-guessing or judging someone else's status? Do we find ourselves feeling that someone who's better educated, prettier, slimmer, more senior or affluent is automatically a superior, more important person, someone to be in awe of? Or that someone who's perceived to be less attractive or of lower status is less entitled to respect or consideration? Sometimes bias can be an almost unconscious response, but it can affect how we behave, how comfortable and at ease we are in the company of others.
- Enquiring what someone does for a living is a fairly standard opening question when meeting them for the first time, yet the reply can prompt quick judgements to be made. Whether or not they work, have a part-time or full-time job and what that is can result in us being impressed or dismissive, all based on the short reply to that question. And yet so many factors influence someone's choice of employment, from their opportunities for an education through to support received in establishing a career. Then there are those who thrive on stress and challenges, whilst others prefer an easier life. Each role has its place in a thriving society. Who are we to judge someone's choice?
- Similarly, finding our voice can be a tough ask, especially if we're new to a group or have perhaps never spoken before and fear that other members will be judgemental as they appear to be super-confident. All it takes is a barely suppressed giggle, snigger or faint 'are you serious?' to ensure that we return to our corner, tail between our legs, hardly daring to speak again. It's not uncommon, though, for several minutes later for someone else to say exactly what we were trying to say, and then receive loud applause!
- Or those times when we've invested lots of effort into something important. It can be tough when people who are unaware of the background to our story dismiss our success as a fluke, trivial or say it happened because of someone else. If you feel compelled to explain, justify yourself or remonstrate, just pause and ask why should you allow yourself to be pressured like that?
Do you really owe these people an explanation, does their judgement make a difference to your life, do you, on reflection, actually care what they think so much? No, no, no! Breathe, let it go and smile to yourself about what you've done, the efforts you've made, the lessons you've learned along this journey. And smile too at what they've Not been doing whilst you were working to improve yourself.
- Judgemental people seem to feel that confidence comes from running others down, belittling their efforts and generally using the piles of defeated bodies as stepping-stones over which they intend to climb. They may come across as knowledgeable, strong, forceful characters, full of confidence, driven and motivated.
But gradually others start to see through their shallow veneer, realising how unnecessary and unpleasant it is to share the same orbit as those who continually rubbish other people, even when it's simply by raising an eyebrow or delivering an incredulous sigh.
There's no joy in being around people who are always on the lookout for negatives in others, who are quick to judge and who choose to form inflexible opinions, thus seeing faults and imperfections in any situation. Most of us don't mind and are even a little relieved if a keynote speaker appears human and occasionally stumbles over a few words, we're tolerant if a new member of staff makes a small mistake in a restaurant. We don't need to rant, complain or make loud demands.
Rather than find fault and reasons to criticise it makes for a far more pleasant and positive experience when we encourage, appreciate the good, celebrate each other's successes and offer ways to raise each other up. It's far more satisfying and less stressful to enjoy finding the positives rather than the negatives.
Susan Leigh, Altrincham, Cheshire, South Manchester counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. She works with individual clients, couples and provides corporate workshops and support.
She's author of 3 books, 'Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact', '101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday' and 'Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain', all on Amazon & with easy to read sections, tips and ideas to help you feel more positive about your life.
To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit http://www.lifestyletherapy.net