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Judgement seems to be part of modern life. But when you’re a parent, judgement seems to come thick and fast. We’ve spoken about how to navigate unsolicited advice, but when you’re dealing with judgement, it often feels more personal.  Whether it’s about how you’re raising your kids, how quickly you’ve ‘bounced back’ after giving birth (do we have a bullsh*t bell?), how you wear your hair, your relationship or the way you decorate your house, judgemental people are everywhere. And they’re exhausting. They can make us question ourselves, they can make us doubt ourselves and they can have a hugely negative impact on our mental health. So how do we deal with them?

Because judgemental people will always be part of our lives. Even if we remove those who are hurtful from our lives, there will always be others who have opinions on how we do things whether it’s a parent, an in-law, a sibling or a well-meaning but misjudging friend. Those people will always feel like they have free reign to cast those opinions. But how can we build our resilience and increase our emotional armour to manage these judgements without taking them on board? Especially if we’re already feeling delicate?


Don’t lose your sh*t

When we’re criticised, our first reaction is often to protect ourselves. The first thing we do to protect ourselves? Become defensive, lash out, retaliate. But that ain’t going to do anyone any favours. As soon as we lose our sh*t, we give the power back to the person judging us while giving them another reason to judge. As much as we might want to tell them to jog on back to their ivory tower of judgement and perfection, often nodding, smiling and walking away from the situation is the best response.


Try not to take it personally

While it feels like judgemental comments can be loaded personal attacks, more often than not, they’re more about the person saying them than they are about you. Try not to take anything too personally. People who are highly judgemental of other people are usually most judgemental of themselves. They might act like they know everything, like they’re better than you but chances are they don’t really feel that way and they’re projecting their own anxieties and misgivings onto you.


Be compassionate

While compassion might be the absolute furthest thing from your mind when someone’s judging you for how you feed your child or how tidy your house is (or isn’t) remembering these things come from a place of insecurity can be a useful way to add a layer to your own armour. Judgemental people are made, not born. They’re often created out of a set of circumstances, usually those which are out of their control. Maybe they learned to be this way from parents who consistently subjected them to negative messages. Maybe they’re lashing out because they’re insecure about their own parenting. It doesn’t make their behaviour OK by any stretch, but it can help us be a little more empathetic towards them


Recognise how you feel

One of the worst ways to deal with judgemental people is to ignore how it makes us feel. If we ignore our feelings, they have a tendency to bubble up which can lead to us losing our sh*t, and, as previously mentioned, that’s no good to anyone. When we say ‘recognise how you feel’, we don’t mean you should dwell on it, or sit crying in a corner about the way you feel you’ve been judged, but acknowledging the discomfort created by any harsh words goes a long way. It’s a more mindful way of dealing with conflict. Try noticing your feelings without getting overly attached to them or pushing them aside. Resistance can create more suffering and accepting any discomfort can be a good way to help deal with the situation and move on.


Create boundaries

Sometimes people who spout judgements are unavoidable. But we can control how we mix with them. If a long Sunday lunch at yours with someone who you find difficult is on the cards, can you change it up so they’re not in your space? A walk with a pub lunch? A quick lunch on a weekday instead of a long boozy after-work hang out? If you’re in the midst of a difficult relationship but it’s one you want to keep or can’t let go of, ask yourself how you can use boundaries to take care of yourself and your needs.


Focus your attention elsewhere

For every judgemental comment, remember that there’s someone who has said something wonderful about you. We all have a negativity bias which means we’re programmed to remember the bad stuff over the good stuff. Look to the people who love you and say good, positive things about you when the scatter gun judgemental comments from external sources feel too much. And if you don’t feel like there is anywhere else to turn, look inwards! Ask yourself what you’ve done well recently and be your own cheerleader. Is your child happy? We bet they are. Are they fed? Yep. Are you surviving whatever life is throwing at you? You are. You’re doing a great job, whatever anyone else (or the little devil inside your brain) is telling you.


Be grateful

An attitude of gratitude is sometimes an overused fallback. But being glad that you’re not the sort of person who has to judge everyone around you is a good way to look at things. Because as exhausting as it is to be judged, imagine how exhausting it must be to do the judging. And if we go back to the idea that the person doing the judging is unhappy in themselves, we can even be grateful that we’re not unhappy enough to throw our judgement of other people around in the same way they feel they need to.


Walk away

If you can, when you can, walk away. You don’t need to stay in situations that are toxic for you. Not every difficult person is worth your time, energy or attention. In the face of someone who is extremely negatively entrenched, make your excuses and your exit. If you’re at a group get-together, keep a healthy distance by spending most of your time communicating with other members in a separate space. Think twice before obligating yourself to interact with the judgmental individual.


Don’t listen to their judgement

All too often we take what a judgemental person tells us to heart – but just because they’re judging us, it doesn’t mean they’re right. As much as you can, don’t let their negativity impact on you. Keep on shining on.

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