Loving ourselves requires us to let go of self-deprecating thoughts, but sometimes that is not enough. If you find that you are still rooted in negativity, it could be that your attitude towards yourself is improving but you have taken to judging others instead. This shift doesn’t improve your self-esteem and body image. It keeps you in a negative cycle and prevents you from being the best you can be. Try these four strategies to help you stop judging yourself and others.
1. Realize that when someone, anyone, comments about another person, it is never really about the other person. Critical comments are a mirror into the speaker’s life and attitude. A person who comments on your weight has some weight backstory in her history. A person who wonders if something is too young-looking for you to wear wonders exactly that about herself. If someone criticizes your parenting, she may be insecure about her own parenting skills.
Comments about us – especially about our bodies – are rarely really about us. They are about the person making the comment. Realizing this truth can be empowering and freeing, but we then have to be willing to apply that knowledge to ourselves.
2. Make note of your judgments. If we have a judgmental thought about another person or gossip about it to a third party, what we think or say is ultimately about us. It is a strong insight into our stance towards that particular issue. As soon as you notice you have made the judgment, register it in your mind so you can return to it later and ask yourself why you made it. That leads to self-knowledge.
3. Change course. Often we make these judgments at a time where we can’t process them - perhaps we are out shopping or at a party. What you can do is redirect your thoughts and words.
If it was a thought, then be aware, stop it, and think of an apology to the recipient of your criticism or judgment. If you have made the comment out loud, apologize. Your apology might be to the friend you gossiped with, or to the person herself. Apology doesn’t show weakness, it shows grace and humility.
4. Use that knowledge to help you grow. As soon as you can, ask yourself the hard question. Why were you inclined to make that judgment? Perhaps you judged a woman for wearing skinny jeans to a formal event. Ask yourself why. Perhaps you recently tried on skinny jeans and didn’t like how they looked on you or you are feeling self-conscious about your age or you don’t have the budget for a new wardrobe.
There are many possible reasons, so be deliberate and thorough. Because, what we notice and say about others reflects who we are, not who the person we are judging is. You owe your self-awareness journey the thoughtfulness of thinking the situation through andarriving at a deeper understanding of yourself.
With time and practice, self-awareness about what we say and do unto others, will change our course and allow us to be more accepting of ourselves and others.