On Thursday, I ran a post called You are the One Who Cares the Most.
Jamie had this incredibly thoughtful comment that really got me thinking:
In addition, we gotta stop caring about others…I mean, superficially caring. I don’t know where it came from but I somewhere along the line became judgmental and hateful toward others (in my head). I know I used to simply hear, not necessarily participate, comments from other women, “Oh my goodness, she really let herself go” or “shoot me if I ever get that fat” or “can you believe what she’s wearing”…but I find myself noticing sometimes and then get frustrated….where did that come from? I try very hard these days to send loving energy to anyone I “notice” to counter the negative thought that popped in my head. And I gotta feel pity for the person (very likely a fellow woman) who may look at me and think those thoughts. That is a miserable place to be. This is some hard, hard work….99% of it is between our ears.
If you have read the blog for long, you have heard me say that if someone, anyone, comments on your physicality, it is not about you. That comment is a mirror into the speaker’s life and what is going on with he or she around that issue. A person who comments that you could lose some weight, has some weight backstory in mind. A person who wonders if something is too young looking for you to be wearing it has that question for herself. If someone criticizes your curls, well, you get the picture. Comments about our physicality are never about us. They are about the person making the comment.
Realizing this truth can be very empowering, and it can be freeing.
But the flip side of that is that we then have to be willing to apply that bit of knowledge to ourselves and what we notice. If we say something to someone about his or her physicality, it is not about him or her. It is about us. And by “saying” something, I also mean if we think something about someone else, if we are quietly judging someone else in our mind. That judgment isn’t really about the unsuspecting person whose caught our gaze. It is about us. It is a revelation, a fundamental insight into what we have going on with that issue.
And so there are two suggestions I have for you when you find that you are sitting in judgment of someone else’s physical appearance.
The first suggestion is to change course. If the comment is in your head, then observe that it is happening, stop it, and then change your direction– instead sending loving kindness and graciousness to the person. Perhaps you might even whisper an apology in your head to the person who was receiving that judgment and then make it right- for you- by offering that person a kind thought (I am so sorry for my judgment that really just reflects me and I wish you light and love today and everyday, for example).
The second suggestion is to learn from it. Ask yourself the hard question. Why were you inclined to make that judgment in the first place? Perhaps you were judging whether or not that woman had any right to wear those skinny jeans to this event. Ask yourself where that thought came from, why you were inclined to go there. It could be that you recently tried on skinny jeans and didn’t like how they looked on you and now you see that she is allowing herself to enjoy them and, well, that has sparked something in you because you had given yourself a rule that no one over 40 should wear skinny jeans. There are all sorts of reasons why something grabs our attention so you will need to be deliberate in your considering, but because what we notice and say is a mirror to us and not a truth about the person who has been judged, you owe your self-awareness and self-acceptance journey the thoughtfulness of thinking through the situation and arriving at a deeper understanding of yourself.
With time and practice, this attention to how we behave and awareness building can really change our course and allow us to be much more magnanimous to ourselves and others.
Have you ever noticed that your judgments are more about your concerns than about the person who is being judged? How have you addressed changing your mind? If you haven’t ever really had a problem with judgment, what has kept you from going there? What advice do you have for others?