What you’ll learn in this article: Learn the three reasons people are so judgemental. Why moms can be so intense. A powerful perspective to help release the power of others’ opinions, and a technique you can use every time someone (unhelpfully) lets you know what they think without you giving them permission. Oh, and a short blurb on how to politely decline “feedback” from someone.
Let’s Get Started!
Today on the Great Maternity Leave I wanted to offer some life coaching that I do with clients. But more importantly, this was an important area for development for myself as I went through my own coach training & personal transformation during my first maternity leave.
This post today is about helping you break free from giving other people power over you. It is about breaking free from the powerful pressures of conformity. It is not letting your voice or your unique style be shut down. It is about no longer being afraid to strike out on your own path and to respectfully decline to take in another person’s judgement.
THIS IS WHAT DAY TO DAY LIFE IS LIKE
You are walking along a path. Along the path, hundreds of people are standing, giving you their opinions of where you should step on the path, how you should do it, how far you should travel, what you should be afraid of, what might happen, what might go wrong, their own advice, what you should wear, trying to give you goods to carry, saddling you with extra baggage. etc. etc.
There are two options. You could smile politely at them and ignore them, continue walking, enjoying your path, light and unburdened. Or you could keep stopping, and letting those people load your arms up with more stuff, load your mind up with their fears, their doubts, and take on their opinions.
In the process, you lose track of what path you were on, become confused, and start doubting your journey. Eventually you can’t even remember the destination. You are going around in circles, surrounded by people trying to have their voice heard. I’d imagine it’s like being a celebrity in a media scrum on the red carpet. Hey! You! Listen to me! NO! ME! Turn this way!
When it comes to us in this motherhood journey, THIS happens.
When we open ourselves up to others, we inevitably open ourselves up to (their) opinions and judgements.
I also believe that opinions are so intense on the motherhood journey because (most) of them come from a place of love, and moms are very passionate about children and babies. Vereeeee passionate.
But really, this post deals with any type of judgement.
THE 3 REASONS PEOPLE ARE JUDGY:
1.) Because some people think that “communication” and “conversation” means giving and receiving advice rather than just listening and only offering advice if it is asked for.
2.) Many people spend their entire day in a state of judgement, assessing what others are doing, talking about others. It becomes a habitual way of thinking, perhaps started in early age. It becomes a sport for these people.
3.) If a person does not have growth, aspirations, and excitement in their own lives, they focus on what is going on in others’ lives.
Think about playing in the park with your child. If you are busy running around the equipment, engaged with them, you have no time or interest for judging. Your focus is in the present moment.
But the person sitting on the bench watching what you are doing is not engaged and busy. Their focus is turned outward to what other people are doing.
**But we have ALL been there, sitting on the bench, quietly watching another parent playing with their child and silently coming up with judgements. We are not perfect. It is an active effort and commitment not to live in that place.
MY GOAL WITH THIS POST TODAY:
With a baby, we are asking for advice and discussing parenthood quite frequently, so the doors are wide open. And I am sure you will agree that the judgements come rolling in, whether you gave permission or not.
I want to help you become confident and strong in the face of those judgements that come in via words, the grapevine, a comment on your facebook or a “look ” you get at the park. I’ll discuss some perspectives that help + some strategies.
The Chef in the Kitchen Example.
You are your own best expert. You have spent 24/7 around your child. You know every nuance of their behaviour and know their soul. You created and housed their body. You instinctively and intellectually know their needs. When somebody gives you unwelcome advice or judgements, think of it this way:
It is like they are at a restaurant, then walk into the kitchen and tell the chef how to make his or her own meals. That sounds crazy doesn’t it?
So does adopting another person’s views of how you should be a mother / wife / woman.
We Have Been Trained to Dispense & Accept Judgements Since a Young Age
In school, we (ideally) develop critical thought and hone in on our ability to choose from multiple sources of information, assess each one for evidence & applicability, and then select the information that sits with us best.
Choose. Assess. Select.
We are doing this fairly competently by our 20s. Especially if we are in post-secondary education.
So why aren’t we able to do this with people’s unhelpful judgements? Why do we keep taking it personally?
They hold a lot of power over us, because from an early age we were trained to care what people thought of us. We were told what to be, how to act, who to be, how to talk, how to think, even sometimes what degree we should pursue. We were trained to depend on other peoples’ judgements of us. If you did what people wanted you to do, you were good.
If you did not do what people wanted you to do, you were bad.
It takes a long time to unravel that thinking pattern and it is a constant process.
You will always have to work at it. But here are some tools that will help.
THE BOOK-UNDER-THE-ARM TECHNIQUE:
Imagine that everybody is walking with a thick book under their arm at ALL times. Seriously, for the rest of the day, I want you to imagine that book is right there, under each person’s arms.
And when they begin to talk to you, they pull that book out from under their arm and turn to a chapter and begin referencing it. Let your minds’ eye see them doing that.
Let me explain now:
Imagine your child is totally melting down and they just offered their (rather unhelpful) opinion on the situation and your parenting.
When that person begins to offer their “opinion” or “judgement” what they are doing, is opening their own life book and referencing their own chapter on that topic.
How did they write their own chapter on a child having a tantrum & what to do:
-The unique family & family culture that they grew up within.
-The unique decade, year, sociopolitical situation, geographical location, country they grew up within.
-The unique culture that they come from.
-How they saw others in their generation dealing with tantrums.
-How they remember being dealt with during a tantrum.
-Their educational background (degree, school system.)
-The unique view of gender roles that they have (by family, culture, etc.)
-The parenting methods that were popular at their time + the few books out of the 100s out there that they happened to read.
Wow. You are different from them on every single one of these points, right?
Here’s an image to nail this point home.
This lady comes from a totally unique, different reference point and perspective from you.
So why would you want to follow HER chapter in HER book? Why would you let her have so much power over you? Even if she is a friend or a family member?
You’ve already got your own book to reference and it applies to your life much better than someone else’s book.
Remember, it is up to you to give permission to someone to make their judgement. They cannot offer it if you do not give them permission.
“Thanks ,but I’ve got a system that is working great for me right now, let’s chat about something else.”
And if it comes out of them before you can stop it, just let it wash over you with the above techniques and perspectives.