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Dealing with judgemental people

Christian Teo

Tue Oct 15 2013


HURT, insecurity and anger. We all know the gamut of emotions that arise when we feel we’ve been judged. Christian Teo shares his insights on how you can manage the pain. 


Dressing the right way. Looking the right part. Doing the right thing. Where does it end?

It’s true. You can’t live your life constantly trying to live up to other people’s expectations or fearing other people’s judgements. In fact, it’s taxing and downright exhausting – and yet, there’s no running away from the constant pushing and pulling, asserting our own will against others and negotiating the norms of culture and society.

This also means that all of us would at some point in our lives find we have fallen afoul of other people’s expectations and come under the wrath of their judgements. It opens up all sorts of negative feelings. Hurt. Insecurity. Anger. It’s understandable, but how these emotions are managed are important in ensuring we can walk away from it without getting too badly burnt.

When you find yourself on the receiving end of someone’s judgement, it’s useful to take a step back and learn not to take it too personally. Remember that whether it’s us or others, exercising judgement is part and parcel of everyday life.

We are constantly judging others and being judged. Based on our value systems and beliefs, we use our judgement to assess situations and find out where we stand in relation to others. Very often we use it to determine the type of people we want to be around or associate with.

It’s sometimes not about you per se. The judgement someone has made about you could be based on his/her experiences in the past. The things that happen to us growing up have a huge impact on our worldview and how we read situations. Something as simple as the falling out with a friend over a trivial matter during childhood for example can drastically alter the way someone understands personal relationships, and impact on his/her ability to trust others as an adult.

Perhaps the most extreme expression of judgementalism comes in the form of prejudice and discrimination. Broad sweeping assumptions are made without understanding the context of a situation and the individual involved.

Someone like you once hurt me. I am making a pre-emptive strike to make my stand.

Others unleash their judgement because it’s their way of coping.

Being able to stick a label on someone helps people feel in control of their hectic, ever-involved lives. It’s also often driven by a person’s fears and insecurities, or to put it more bluntly, putting others down in order to feel better about oneself.

It can also be a defence mechanism. “Someone like you once hurt me. I am making a pre-emptive strike to make my stand.”

Certainly none of these behaviours are justified, but perhaps understanding why it happens will allow us to be the bigger person when we are under attack. Conversely, being able to understand why people judge can help us be more circumspect before we  judge others.

So the next time you’re feeling a little down because of a presumptuous glare or a derogatory comment, understand that the offender like everyone else has his/her own chains to break and knots to un-tangle. As the Beatles famously proclaimed, “let it be”.

All of us are trying to figure out our lives, and perhaps some just do it better than others.