• Kat Ryan

Who are you to judge?

Updated: Jan 17

Every human being experiences love at some point in their life, in various ways and some more than others. Similarly, every human being experiences trauma or pain at some point in their life, again, in various ways and some more than others. When we are going through our trauma or pain, we want the world to understand us and sympathise with what we are going through. We want to be heard. But what does being heard truly look like? Are you truly listening to the people you love? And are you trying to listen to those you are so quick to judge?

I find judgement the most valuable but at the same time the most detrimental element of human nature. We need judgement in order to survive; it is a tool in which we must use to determine the best outcome in all situations. Judgement can fix problems, cause problems, help people, harm people. The judgement I want to delve into is the judgement we lay on others... and I hope this post brings some clarity to how your judgement about others affects them and could even prevent their progression.

Think about the last time you negatively judged or labelled someone or even the last time you agreed with someone who was doing so. Did you make your judgement based on second-hand information? Maybe you heard it straight from the horse's mouth or saw something with your own eyes. Either way, did you make your judgement after truly trying to hear or understand them? I would say most likely not.

When children act a certain way, we tend to look at the reason behind that behaviour and attempt to understand the child with compassion and patience; we usually stop doing this once that child reaches adulthood. I believe this is where we could be going wrong.

Lessons learnt

What I have learnt the hard way is that negative life experiences can and will affect you for the rest of your life, both knowingly and unknowingly; they literally shape us, as do all life experiences. I have also learnt that each individual deals with experiences differently; what may cause someone to end up with an unhealthy addiction may cause another person to go the opposite way and strive to be better in life. It doesn’t make either person better than the other because of the way they have dealt with it.

After many years of being talked about and labelled by others for certain actions, even by loved ones, I found myself taking on that label and believing it. I learnt to live with it, never challenged it and never held anyone accountable for the way in which it made me feel: judged, unworthy and inadequate. It wasn’t until I had my life-changing Saturn Return that I realised why I behaved the way I did, which led to this judgement and labelling.

That behaviour was a response to previous trauma I had experienced in my life. When I recognised that trauma, I recognised my behaviour, but until then I was totally unaware as to why I felt the need to behave the way I did. I had an extremely unhealthy relationship with myself which needed to change, so it did. But when I returned to the place where I experienced all of this judgement, my label seemed to have remained. I started to acknowledge that regardless of the fact I had been away for many years and become a different person, people still saw me the way they did because they had made their minds up about me many years ago. I very nearly let that mindset prevent me from moving forward and I started to feel as if I was still being punished for it. It became very apparent to me that there was a lack of awareness and a total lack of consideration, which unfortunately is too common in society.

Trauma, specifically childhood trauma affects brain development, hormonal systems, behavioural patterns, beliefs and even the way our DNA is read and transcribed. It has a huge impact on our lives and an astronomical number of people have experienced this type of trauma at some point. But when do we think about the likelihood that someone could be going through a lot more than meets the eye??

It’s easy to talk negatively about a person because they are not meeting our expectations, not going about something the way we would prefer or acting a way in which we disapprove. After all, you know absolutely everything about that person in order to make that judgement, don’t you? I thought not. It’s not so easy to first think about what that person may have been through in order for them to act this way and make a judgement based on that.

In my personal experience, not being heard or considered can hold you back and prevent you from progressing. In the same way receiving love and support from others encourages growth and better decision making. The first is adding pain on top of pain, hindering the person to become a better person to themselves and the second can add enlightenment and agility, helping the person to do the work they need to.

Think about it...

So, the next time a person is deemed "useless" because they are not contributing to society in the same way you do – maybe they perceive themselves to be unworthy because there was ongoing neglect throughout their childhood? Or how about when you label a person for their sexual behaviour - consider that they may have an unhealthy relationship with sex because of previous sexual trauma. Maybe the mother at the school drop-off who looks like their life is going well doesn’t speak to anyone else and comes across as ignorant and arrogant – how do you know if she has severe social anxiety due to negative life experiences or not? Even down to the stranger on the street who looks miserable, angry and unapproachable – maybe they are on their way home to violence, physical and mental abuse and have no way out? Who are you to judge?

Being heard isn't just being acknowledged, it is being understood in a deep and profound way without judgement. You may know someone's name, but it does not mean you know their story. You may have known someone their whole life, but you cannot know someone's reason without fully knowing them. And you will never fully know someone because you have not lived their life, not walked in their shoes and cannot hear their thoughts nor know their mindset. We never reveal 100% of ourselves, regardless of whether we think we do.

Final thoughts...

Instead of trying to find the words to label, someone, maybe look for the gratitude for the fact you are not negatively impacted by something which has made you behave this way. You are not perfect; you are not immune...far from it. And at some point in your life, you could find yourself in a similar or much worse situation. What's that saying that we all agree on but don't practice??.... In a world where you can be anything, be KIND.

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