This was first published on KSL.COM
Hi Coach Kim. I have some family members who love to make fun of others, especially people who are less fortunate, those who are overweight, and those who have disabilities (either mental or physical). They say it is all in fun, but many times, it is cruel. When I talk with them about this, they say I am too sensitive, and now they say that they can't be themselves around me because I judge them. I don’t really like to be around them. It causes me anxiety, but I truly feel family relations are so important for me and my children. I know I can't change other people, but what should I do?
The first thing I want you to understand is why people may judge, gossip or put other people down. They might do this because they're suffering from fear that they aren’t good enough themselves. In order to feel better, they might look for anything negative to point out in other people. If they can stay focused on what is "bad" about others, it might make them feel superior.
When you're around people who are doing this, remember, they may just be insecure about their own value and might act this way to make their egos feel better. That doesn’t excuse it at all, but it helps you understand them and see their behavior accurately.
It's even more important to understand this principle if you have a tendency to judge, gossip about or criticize others. Your subconscious may start judging the people around you before you consciously even realize you're doing it. But when you think about this, it probably isn’t the kind of person you want to be.
If you have this tendency to judge others, watch for it. When you catch yourself doing it, stop and remember that your own insecurity may be driving that behavior. Take a moment to remind yourself that all humans have the same worth and choose to look for some good in the people you're judging instead. Choose to be someone who sees all human beings as having the same value, no matter their appearance or performance.
If you have to be around people that have this tendency and it drives you crazy, as it does our reader, remember that this behavior may come from their insecurities and what they need. They may need validation that they're valuable, appreciated and good enough. This may be the last thing you feel like giving them; you might actually feel like tearing them down. Instead, try just sitting with your feelings toward these people for a minute. Feel your own sense of disgust or disapproval, and be honest with yourself about your negative feelings about them.
Are you seeing these people as bad, less or worse than you? Are you standing in judgment of them or them being judgmental? Are you doing the same thing they're doing? The fact is, we all do it because we may all be insecure about our own value.
Take a minute and ask yourself who are all the people you tend to judge.
There's a reason you judge the people you do. They may trigger some fear in you and judging them as the bad guy may help you resolve that. Here are some examples:
Your family members may be seeing the bad in other people to make themselves feel better. This might anger you because the people who are being judged in this case deserve to be seen accurately and have their value honored. You may not like to hear this, but you, too, are being judgmental. You're judging your family members for judging and criticizing others (which might make you feel a bit superior to them on the subconscious level). Your family members also deserve to be seen accurately and have their value honored. Think of them as works in progress with much more to learn, just like the rest of us.
Remember, we're all students in the classroom of life. We all want to be good people but we all have faults and weaknesses. You may not have this issue exactly like they have, but surely you have others faults — we all do.
The best thing you can do is focus on being the strongest, most wise and loving person you can be today. Put all of your effort into trusting that we all have the same intrinsic worth, though we each have a very unique classroom journey.
We shouldn't judge anyone else as better or worse than us because they aren’t on our same journey. Instead of getting bothered by their bad behavior, focus on making sure you are seeing people accurately and showing up with love and compassion yourself.
You can do this.
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Kimberly Giles is the president and founder of Claritypoint Life Coaching and 12 SHAPES INC. She is an author and professional speaker. She was named one of the top 20 advice gurus in the country by Good Morning America in 2010. She appears regularly on local and national TV and Radio.