After a night of listening to the likes of Darth Vader sleeping in the next room, I took my one year old to the clinic. It was a long weekend and my regular doctor wasn’t in.
Instead, a balding elderly gentleman scooted in to give my son a once over. With hardly a hello and limited eye contact, the doctor asked me what was wrong. After his examination, he told me I had nothing to worry about. He prescribed lots of humidity and sent me on my way.
As he was closing out of the computer his body tensed. “Oh oh.” he said.
“Your son isn’t vaccinated. Why not?”, he asked sharply. Not wanting to get into a lengthy conversation, I told him that we had decided not to. He told me I was lucky the cold wasn’t diphtheria and gave me a harsh “What a huge mistake.” before he left the room.
I elected not to respond. There was no point. He had clearly cast his vote. To engage would have been solely for sport and I wasn’t in the mood.
But as I drove home I tried to make sense of what had happened.
It’s not the first time I’ve been judged for not vaccinating my kids. When you do something that goes against the norm, especially when it comes to children, and especially when it relates to safety and health, you open yourself up to judgement.
As I was mulling this over, a saying I heard years ago popped into my head: You can only feel judged if you are judging yourself.
It’s a saying that I’ve struggled to wrap my head around entirely but every time I feel judgement I contemplate this statement. Am I judging myself? Am I confident with my choice? Do I wish I had done something different?
Overall, I have found this statement to be true. When I feel judged, there’s something going on inside of me. I’m not confident. I’m unsure. I went down path A but felt like path B would have been better. There’s something not quite sitting right with me.
But I’ve also learned that I can be judged without feeling judged. This was the case with this doctor. He was openly judging our decision but I didn’t leave feeling angry, defensive, or hurt. I left feeling curious about what had just happened.
In these cases, where an emotional reaction is not triggered, it means that I’m not judging myself. I’m comfortable being who I am and with the decisions I’ve made. And as long as I’m not judging myself, I won’t react. It won’t affect me.
And in these cases, it doesn’t matter whether others are judging me. It doesn’t affect me one bit.
But it left me curious about this doctor. He was triggered by our decision not to vaccinate. He was offended and openly hostile. He was casting harsh judgement. Why?
I’ve talked to several other doctors who also disagree, but they weren’t judgemental. They were curious. They didn’t understand how we arrived at our decision so they asked me to explain.
So why was this doctor different?
When someone is judging you, it’s more about them than it is about you. What you are doing is bringing up something in them, an intense emotional response they may not even understand. They think it’s about you. They will blame you, point fingers, and look for others to agree with them.
But it’s not you. It has nothing to do with you.
Next time you feel judged by others, look inward. You can’t change their opinion or undo what they’ve said. The only thing you can do is figure out how to let it go so it doesn’t bother you anymore.
Judging others doesn’t hurt them (unless they let it). It only hurts you. You will be upset. Not them. Next time you feel like casting judgement on someone else, ask yourself why you care? Why does it bother you so much?
The cure to judgement: look inward, figure out why you care, and let it go.