Have you ever been judged by someone before?
Of course you have. We all have. I certainly have! Whether it was your high school best friend talking behind your back or a loved one confronting you about hurting their feelings (intentionally or unintentionally), no one can escape the infamous “judgment zone.”
True, sometimes judgment isn’t all that bad. In fact, we use our best judgment all the time (Should I give money to this homeless man on the side of the road? Am I able to squeeze my SUV into this tight parking space? Maybe my husband shouldn’t be going on a cabin trip with 20 of his friends in the middle of a pandemic…). Hell, I’d even go so far as to say that positive judgment can be an essential part of any healthy relationship—it often takes honesty and good communication skills to openly share what’s bothering you about your partner.
But what happens when using your best judgment turns into negative judgment?
You may not even realize you’re being hurtful or malicious when you call someone out—but subconsciously, these judgments are coming from a lack of self-esteem or self-love that are ultimately being projected onto the ones you care about.
In other words, your judgmental opinions tend to have a lot more to do with you than the person you’re judging.
Unfortunately, this projection keeps you from understanding the true source of your pain, which means you won’t be able to get to the bottom of your issues. If you’re unable to recognize your own wounds, you’ll get stuck in the cycle of judging the other person, which often leads to resentment.
Even worse? When you judge your significant other too harshly and too often, it can take a major hit on their self-esteem, too. Think of it this way: your spouse is the person you wake up to every morning and the last person you see before going to bed at night. Your partner is someone you spend the most time with—which means they know every quirk, vice, habit and vulnerable bone in your body (and vice versa!).
Bottom line? Your opinion matters to your S.O. more than anyone else in the entire world. And they’re more likely to believe that they’re to blame for your sources of pain, even when they’re far from it.
(Yeah, let that sink in.)
When you choose to project onto your partner, you’re choosing to drive attention away from yourself and onto someone else. Ergo, you won’t have to face the parts of yourself you don’t like very much (convenient, right?).
If you find yourself struggling with negative judgment towards your partner lately, try to go easy on yourself. You’re hurting and maybe even healing—but that doesn’t mean you can’t work on it.
Here’s a journaling exercise to help you out with your judgments:
Rack your brain for something that happened to you and your partner in the past few days that made you emotionally charged. Then, write a letter to them (without sending it!), describing all the ways you’re angry, sad or hurt. Don’t hold back! Dump all of your feelings on the page—what you don’t like about them, what they did wrong, why they’re being a pain in the ass, what they “should” be doing differently, etc.
Next, set the letter aside and come back to it a few hours later. Read it as if it was written to you (psst… you can do this by replacing the word “you” with “I”). See if anything you feel about the other person could be something you feel about yourself (remember the projecting I talked about earlier?).
Here’s an example of how your original letter might sound:
You are so selfish. You only ever think about yourself. You don’t do anything for me anymore! You’ve become passive aggressive and hurtful, and I don’t like who you’ve become.
Now, here’s how it sounds when reading it about yourself:
I am so selfish. I only ever think about myself. I don’t do anything for John anymore! I’ve become passive aggressive and hurtful, and I don’t like who I’ve become.
See what I mean? Now, go back and read the letter about your partner. Notice how you feel about the situation after putting yourself in his or her shoes. Do you feel more empathetic or compassionate towards the other person? Can you spot the ways in which you might be projecting your own emotions?
Oftentimes, we project how we’re feeling about ourselves onto others without even realizing it.
The long-term goal of this is to notice when you’re judging someone else, and then stop in the moment to ask yourself what’s going on in your life that’s bugging you about YOU. The idea behind this exercise is to be able to apply it in real life versus just on the page (although you can do that, too!). Learning how to successfully eliminate judgments and projections that cloud your thinking will ultimately teach you how to become more kind and empathetic towards the people you care about most. It might take some time, but it’s totally worth it! Remember: practice makes perfect.
Ready to transform your relationship?
I offer a proven approach to help you build the fulfilling, true relationship you desire. Think of this as an actionable plan for fixing your relationship. In other words, I’m not just teaching you what to do—but how to do it.
Work with me, and you’ll learn how to:
– Become more self-aware of your role in each of your relationships
– Identify the underlying cause of your conflicts
– Recognize your triggers and manage your responses to them
– Create clear and concise boundaries with yourself and others
– Express yourself with confidence and conviction
– Eliminate repetitive and destructive arguments
– Separate what you can control and what you can’t
– Develop better strategies for communicating under pressure
– Have more realistic expectations of other people
– Alleviate your anger, rage, frustration and resentment
– Stop taking everything personally so you can start having more FUN in your life
Love what you see? Click here to contact me today to schedule a low-key, no-pressure, no-commitment phone call to see if I’m a good fit for you and to answer any questions you might have.