I am going to have a few guests over, I am supposed to cook for them but instead I ordered the food. What will they say? I am three years postpartum, I am supposed to lose all that baby weight a long time back, but I am still nowhere close, what will they say? I am 35, I am supposed to be married and have kids but I am not, what will they say? I have a post graduate with an awesome degree but I am staying at home, what will they say? I have been working for the past 20 years. Now I really want a break and want to quit a job but what will they say? Questions, questions, questions.. Small, big, trivial, severe.. Questions that we all have faced sometime or the other. Every decision, every step we take we think about others and their judgement. The fear of judgement is so real and so scary. There is a reason, there is a story, there is a thought behind your every step, every action which might be unknown to others but you live in a fear that they will judge you as they don’t know your struggle behind it. This is a very real and burning issue and there is no lighter and easier way to talk about it. But I am determined to make my voice heard on this topic because, I have suffered with this and I see so many of my friends suffer with this too, so come let’s build a strong community through this episode - What will they say? The fear of judgement.
Welcome to yet another episode of Morning Cup of Sunshine podcast. How are you doing today? Hope you are having a better day than me. I am too wrapped up in this topic. To be very honest, I was not sure if I should even talk about it because I am too much involved in this topic. I might have mentioned this before in some of my episodes. I have the biggest pet peeve about judgement. Couple of days back, I was having a conversation with one of my oldest friends. She is a new mom, her baby is hardly a couple of months old. She was on the brink of breaking down in tears. She was already emotional being a new mom and on top of that she was feeling judged because she had to formula feed her baby. I don’t want to go into details about the reasons. But do the people who are supposedly judging her have even an idea of what she might be going through? She was so emotional that she felt at her lowest right now, when she should ideally enjoy her motherhood journey, she was bogged down by the fear of judgement, about every single decision she was making for her baby. I know we all have been there. Have you ever felt judged for sending your 6 months old to daycare as you have to go back to work? Have you ever felt judged because you are prioritizing your own health and fitness over spending every single waking minute for your kids? Have you ever felt judged for taking up that high pressure job rather than sacrificing your career for family life? I am sure , we all experience those silent looks, those passed remarks. But the worst of all is the fear of judgement that held us back from taking a leap of faith. It is even worse than actual judgement because we are in constant pain, constant agony, constant doubts. Is there a way to deal with this? It is difficult and not easy to achieve. I am not a therapist or a life coach to give you the exact advice to get rid of the fear of judgement. I never claimed to be. What I talk about in my episode comes from my personal experience and my own struggle. Today, I want to tell you what I learned from my experiences. To tell you a little backstory, I was never a typical girly girl but I was always emotional. That is the reason I can not make decisions with a completely rational mind. I always wanted to have a bright career but when I got married and had my son, I was torn apart by the dynamics of work and family life. I wanted to take on new challenges at my workplace but I felt as if someone was ripping my heart apart when I used to see the clock showing 6.30 , everybody still working and I had to leave to pick my son from daycare. I felt so out of place all the time. I felt out of place in the office because I thought everyone was judging me for leaving my work while everyone else is still working. I felt out of place at home because I was already coming home late from work. I never found peace anywhere, I was always rushing , always trying to fill the shoes of a person that I should be rather than the person who I was. I felt lost, I started feeling guilty all the time. As my son grew and I started getting more time, those feelings started to fade away only to return with new kinds of judgments. Oh wow, you are working from home, that must be so easy, you don’t have to worry about your son and your house. Work from home is work for home, right? I could see those words written in big bold letters in front of me all the time. Was it easy ? No. Was it my first choice ? To be honest, no. But I felt helpless, I had no clue how to answer those remarks. Again, I felt lost and defeated. When was I going to learn to deal with the fear of judgement? When was I going to put my strong feet forward and finally learn to deal with it? It took so much of my energy to convince myself that I need to find a solution even though I was unable to find it at the time. Do you know what was the final straw and what made me finally take my first step in dealing with judgements? It was the birth of my daughter. I don’t know what shifted in me but the day my daughter was born, I made a promise to myself. I am going to enjoy my motherhood journey with her. It is okay if I don’t become the perfect, ideal mom who breastfed her baby , makes all the baby food at home, and devotes her entire life for her kids. I would rather become a mom who laughs hard with them, falters in her own motherhood journey, accepts her mistakes without shame when she loses her temper, who sets the example of a strong woman who can stand up for herself. I started caring less and less about what others think of me. I am nowhere near but at least from a mom perspective, I am much more at peace. I still doubt myself if I am raising my kids correctly, if I am able to set an example but at least I am not worried about letting my kids play in rain and mud just because what will they say? I am not worried about watching hum aapke hain koun with my kids and letting them make fun of me just because what will they say? I am not worried about letting them eat pizza two consecutive Fridays just because what will they say? Let them say what they want to say.
But when it comes to my own life, I am still figuring it out. But what I learned especially in the last three years when I finally decided to end this fear, is that the only thing that is going to help you deal with this fear of judgement is abundant self love and self acceptance. Self acceptance is very crucial. I have said it numerous times. You are amazing the way you are. You are unique in your own way. When are we going to learn to accept ourselves the way we are? What if you don’t enjoy cooking, that does not mean you are a bad wife? What if you don’t fit in the certain norms of homemaker set by society, that does not give anybody the right to judge you. You are you, you do you, you chose you. The moment I accepted that I wanted something more from life and I can not be bound in an ordinary , mundane life and it is okay for me to see those big, bold dreams, pieces started to fall into correct places. I was too afraid for far too long to say that I want to be something more than just a mom or just a wife. I was afraid that they would say I am a bad mom, I am not a good wife. I was afraid that they would judge me if I fail, if I don’t make it. But the moment I accepted my own thoughts, the moment I gave myself the permission to try and even to fail, I had the most liberating feeling. I felt as if I was breathing freely for the first time in so many years. Self acceptance is the key to end the fear of judgment. Way too many of us don’t even dare to dream big because we live in fear of judgement. Living free of this fear of judgement is extremely liberating, it is what we all call freedom. Knowing yourself is your first step towards this liberating feeling. Once you accept the way you are, you start slowly loving yourself that way you are. I love how determined I am. I love how driven I am. I love that I can show my kids where consistency and hard work can take them. Self love does not just mean loving your physical appearance. Although that is also an integral part of self love. But loving how you are from within is your greatest weapon against the fear of judgement. Just think for a moment, think about a person who you truly deeply love, do you ever judge that person? Just think for a moment, do you love your kids only when they are perfect, fit and fine? Don’t you love them equally, without any judgement when they are sick and throwing up on your clothes? Once you start loving yourself unconditionally, you start feeling comfortable in your own skin and you start caring less and less about others' opinion of you. But the biggest hidden advantage is that you stop judging yourself. Fear of judgement from others is bad but self judgement, self criticism is the worst. Self love helps you deal with not only Fear of judgement but with self judgement as well.
The last thing that helped me deal with my fear of judgement was a conscious effort from my side to stay away from any judgments from my side. I have talked about it in one of my very early episodes. I just can’t stand when people judge each other without knowing any backstory. When they put forward their opinion about someone else, it is not honesty, it is plain judgement and is completely not okay. I absolutely hate it when someone casually passes a remark about someone’s weight, height, or any other physical appearance. The one thing I always tell my kids, don’t be proud of things that you have not earned. You didn't earn how you look, that is pure genetics, you didn't earn what kind of life you got when you were born, that was sheer luck. Be proud of your own achievements, the ones for which you have worked hard. I can not stand the casual remarks about weight, you don’t know what kind of struggle they are going through, maybe they are trying but can not lose weight, maybe there are some medical conditions that they are facing. It is not your place to judge them. You feel bad when you are judged, just think about how hurtful it could be for someone who you are judging. Let’s pledge together today. No more pity judgements, no more divisive fights No more arguments about who has a better life, working mom, stay at home mom, skinny mom, lazy mom, helicopter mom, laid back mom. Women with strong opinions, women with very mellow nature, women who lift, women who run, women who love to party, women who love to stay indoors, women who are introverted, women who are introverted. Women, men don't matter. It is not our place to judge anybody else. It is not correct to judge someone else and it is worse to judge yourself. Instead of passing a judgement, let’s extend love, let’s show some kindness. Just remember, when you judge someone else, you define yourself. Judgement prevents us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances. It is easy to judge, it is more difficult to understand. Understanding needs compassion, patience, and willingness to believe that a good heart sometimes chooses poor methods. Through judging we separate and through understanding we grow.