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Adulting: How I Handle Judgment...

When I lived in Turkey, I lived in an apartment complex with very high security. We had to register our vehicle plates with management so we could then pass through the electronic screening at building entrances without any problems.

As you know, technology did not work perfectly (gasp), so there were times when an annoyed guard would come and initially try to wave us away. He’d walk up to our car with the typical “you don’t live here, you need to go to the guest entrance” expression across his face.

Did I bawl my eyes out, mourn the loss of my home, or question the very being of my existence? Of course not. Because I knew the guard would discover our plate was registered, and we would eventually pass on through. If anything, I was a little indignant (especially if it was dinner time.) I knew who I was and where I lived. I knew that the guard's assessment of me was wrong.

I once heard a speaker say that the reason we struggle with critical words from others is because deep down, we worry the person is right. And this was an “ah-ha!” moment for me.

When someone unfairly labels me, like the security guard labeling me as a trespasser, I’ve noticed it doesn’t bother me. Because I know they are just plain wrong. And frankly, I find their judgments not worth my time or energy because I know the truth will emerge.

I find that anxiety, and even anger, comes when people accuse me of something like not being present, being too moody, or not holding up my end of the friendship. Why? I’m discombobulated because, well, deep down, I worry they might be correct.

So now, when someone calls me out about something, and I find myself really flustered, I find peace in doing some self-examination (without the critical person present) to see if indeed there is some truth to what was said. I’m happy to report that taking a more humble approach (could they be right?) actually soothes my anxiety. BUT, at the same time, I don’t let their words automatically have power.

Instead, I work hard to stay calm. Then I determine the power of their words by seeing if they even apply to me. Only then I decide what changes should be made (if any) and how they should be made.


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