I want to talk about judgment. It is one of the quickest and easiest ways to shut someone down — or to feel shut down by another. When I feel judged, my body immediately begins to contract. It feels small and protective. My guard goes up. Defenses come out. A part of me even wants to lash out in response, usually to stop the pain of judgment from penetrating my heart.
When I feel judged, I also feel disconnected. An energetic separation occurs between me and the other. For most of my life, I accepted the judgment of others. When they told me I was too fat, I agreed and tried to hide my belly. When I was “too much” for them, I tamed and silenced myself. When I was too joyful, I muffled my laughter.
Inside, all I wanted to do was run away and break free of the confinement and restriction I felt. Instead, I curled inward and began to hide.
I hid myself from the world because I feared judgment. Condemnation. Ridicule. Being outcast or unloved. My assumption was that I was the problem, not the judgment. Clearly, there was something “wrong” with me because I didn’t please or make others happy. They weren’t comfortable in my presence. I threatened or intimidated them.
Over time, I was so used to hiding, I couldn’t separate myself from the outside expectations or opinions anymore. I just became smaller. Anytime I began to show myself — vulnerably, authentically, wildly, freely — I feared the response. What if this upsets them? What if they don’t like my response? What if they all laugh at me and ridicule me?
It happened over and over. Often, I felt like the proverbial outsider, unable to fit in. As I began my healing journey, I decided I did not want to put myself in situations in which I was judged. It was best to end relationships with those who tried to stifle me. Even though I knew their judgment toward me was a direct reflection of their inner judgment, it still hurt too much to be around.
This was a necessary step on my path, but it wasn’t the final one. As I begin to step out into the world in an even bigger way, I have to face the fear of judgment that continues to make itself known. It makes me want to cry every time I share something others may not like or approve. I fear not belonging.
And yet, as I face this fear head-on, I know that I can no longer forsake myself in order to “belong” to another (be it a relationship, group, family, situation). If belonging comes at the expense of my authenticity, realness, and rawness, I don’t actually want it anyway. I just think I do because my mind tells me it’ll help me avoid the grief and pain of being outcast.
The truth is that I do not have to accept the judgment of others, even if it’s thrown in my face. I have the ability to choose what to let in and what to keep out. I have the capacity to love and accept the parts of me that others reject. That is my path. That is my love. That is my power.
It requires that I stop looking outside for approval (which has been an excruciating journey throughout my lifetime). When I grid deeply into the earth — into my body — and into my heart, I become invincible. The judgment, while it might still bring up feelings of sorrow at the disconnection it creates, doesn’t get to reign. Love reigns instead.
To know myself this deeply is my path to sovereignty.
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