Judgmental people are everywhere. You might even be one yourself and not know it! But regardless of whether you judge or not, we all certainly recognize when others judge us. They are negative, draining, and they don’t make you feel good. So what can you do to cope?
Here are 10 tips that will help you keep your sanity:
1. Don’t take anything personally.
This is a difficult one for most people. We usually assume that someone is doing something because of us. But the truth is that highly judgmental people criticize everyone and everything – especially themselves. Sure, they might think they know everything or act like they are God’s gift to the world, but trust me – they don’t really feel that way. They act this way all the time, under all circumstances, with all people. So remember this: It’s not YOU … it’s THEM.
“Don’t Take Anything Personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.” -Don Miguel Ruiz
2. Be compassionate.
Nasty, judgmental people are made, not born. Think about what could have possibly happened to this person in their life to make them this way. A child doesn’t become judgmental unless that behavior is modeled for them. So maybe their parents judged everything too – including them. You never know what kind of negative message they received about themselves growing up. So while it doesn’t make their behavior any more tolerable, remembering this will at least help you have a little bit of empathy for them.
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama
3. Look at it as a life lesson.
I think life is all about learning. If we don’t keep learning how to be a better person, then what’s the point of it all? So if you view judgmental people as just another life lesson, it will help. View every interaction with them as a “test” that you need to pass. Are you going to respond with negativity? Or are you going to rise above your instinct to attack them back and decide to be the better person? You always have a choice. So work on choosing positive responses.
“I am not someone who is ashamed of my past. I’m actually really proud. I know I made a lot of mistakes, but they, in turn, were my life lessons.” -Drew Barrymore
4. Don’t sink to their level.
Like I just said, when someone criticizes us, our first instinct is to become defensive and protect ourselves. Or maybe you just attack back. But doing this makes you no better than them. If you don’t like their behavior, then don’t give them the power to change who you are. Don’t let their negativity turn you into a cranky, crabby person who plays the judgmental game right along with them. Choose to be the classy person and walk away with your head held high.
“A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” -Coco Chanel
5. Look beyond the obvious.
Most judgmental people are also critical of themselves. That might be hard to believe, but we have no way of knowing all the negative thoughts that go through their heads about themselves. For example, I knew a guy once who was criticizing all the overweight people a beach. He said they had no right to “flaunt” their flabby bodies so everyone had to see them. But guess what? He had severe body image issues himself. So his words were just a reflection of how he really felt about himself.
“The struggle of my life created empathy – I could relate to pain, being abandoned, having people not love me.” -Oprah Winfrey
6. See them as if they were a child.
We don’t expect children to know everything. That’s why we tolerate and accept bad behavior from them more often than we do from adults. We think that once a person grows up, they should know better. They should have figured it all out. But that’s not how it works. Many adults don’t quite “get it” yet. So if you view them as a child – someone who is still learning and growing and doesn’t know any better – then it will be easier to be more compassionate.
“It is easier to build strong children then to repair broken men.” -Frederick Douglass
7. Reframe it.
Maybe the judgmental person is your boss. It’s obviously difficult to have to work with someone like that eight hours a day five days a week. But maybe you should focus on the fact that you even have a job. Or that other people you work with are really awesome. The judgmental person does not have to be the focus of your life unless you allow it. Put their behavior into context and try to look for the positives in the situation – or even in them.
“Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” -Winston Churchill
8. Have an attitude of gratitude.
Be thankful that YOU are not a bitter, judgmental person like they are. Be grateful that perhaps your parents didn’t criticize and tear you down like their parents did to them. Be happy that other people like you more than they like them. You can always find something to be grateful for in every situation – even if it is a difficult one. Anything can be seen as a life lesson if you choose to see it that way.
“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
9. Focus your attention on other people who love and support you.
If you can avoid or remove the judgmental person from your life, then do it! Even if the judgmental person is your own mother, that doesn’t mean you have to talk to her every day. You can put distance between yourself and them. If the person is your boss, try to fly under the radar as much as possible. Maybe the person will forget about criticizing you and then go pick on someone else.
“You have to surround yourself with people who love you and want the best for you.” -Mena Suvari
10. Don’t believe them.
Just because a person judges you don’t mean that what they are saying is right! Just because someone calls you stupid, doesn’t mean that it’s true! Just because someone calls you fat, it doesn’t mean other people think the same thing! One thing I know for sure in life is this: there are very few facts. Most of it is just someone’s opinion. So don’t confuse facts with opinion.
Here is the takeaway: don’t play into their negativity. Don’t take that on. Most judgmental people take pride in tearing other people down in attempt to feel better about themselves. But don’t let them drag you down with them.
“If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.” – Michael Jordan