- The ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.
- A misfortune or calamity viewed as a divine punishment.
- The expression of disapproval of someone or something on the basis of perceived faults or mistakes.
We’re all guilty of being judgemental of ourselves and of others. It could be argued that it’s a crucial aspect of the human condition – we consider how well we are or aren’t doing within society based on comparisons between ourselves and others. Back in the hunter/gatherer days, this could be crucial for survival. The man with the most hunting prowess would likely be best matched with the woman with the best foraging and nurturing abilities. Who is healthier than whom? Who is my competition? How can my own progress be improved to advance my social status?
Nowadays, what are we judgemental about? Success. Looks. Popularity. Health. Prowess. It’s all the same. We are still animals, we just have the blessing and curse that is sentience. We haven’t evolved all that much (though we’d like to think so).
I’ve been trying to be more mindful of my inner voice lately, and MY GOD can she be an evil bitch. She both loves and hates me. She wants me to succeed, she piles on the pressure, and then flays me to within an inch of my life when I repeatedly fail to meet her impossibly high standards.
Here’s a few of the things that she says to me on a near constant basis:
“Wow you look like shit today”; “You look like shit every day”; “Why can’t you take better care of yourself?”; “You are so lazy”; “You will never amount to anything, so you might as well stop trying. That’s it, lie down and curl up like the worthless piece of shit you are”; “I can’t believe you’re like this”; “If everyone could see how much of a mess you actually are, no one would like you”; “You don’t deserve to be happy”; “You will always be this way”; “Why can’t you just be normal like everyone else?”; “Everyone else is so much more beautiful/successful/happy/motivated/passionate/creative than you are”; “What happened to all of that potential you had when you were younger before you got so screwed up?”
…and I hate to admit it, but she’s not just bitching about me. She’s bitching about everyone else too. She’s always there, chattering away to herself, putting other people down to make herself feel better:
“Wow Girl, THAT skirt? Really?”; “That guy could use a haircut”; “Chew louder, Buddy, we can’t all hear you”; “Oh my God could you walk ANY slower?”; “SHUT UP YOUR VOICE IS SO ANNOYING”; “Damn your conversation topic is so stupid, why are you even talking you vapid waste of oxygen”; “Why have children if you’re going to scream at them you’re such a bad mother”.
Now, before you grab your pitchforks, PLEASE let me reassure you that I’m a nice person. I am, I try. But this VOICE that sounds like mine but isn’t actually mine is just scared. She screams obscenity so that she’ll be noticed. By me. It usually works.
But it has been making me really, REALLY sad.
You see, there’s this other voice. She’s kinder but she’s still pretty critical. She says things like: “That’s a mean thing to think, you don’t know this person. Stop it, think of something nice about them instead. You like their hair. That’s a lie, you hate their hair, it’s stupid. You’re being mean again! Why?? What’s wrong with you?? You’re supposed to be a NICE PERSON! Be NICE ALL THE TIME AND THEN EVERYONE WILL LIKE YOU ALWAYS!!!”
…I’m very tired. I’m exhausted through being in the middle of a constant battle in my brain.
So where does this mantra come in? We’re getting there. It’s story time.
Yesterday I planned to go to the library, then therapy, then back to the library, then home to eat and relax and go to bed. I wasn’t planning on impressing anyone, so I just rolled out of bed, put some clothes on, brushed my hair and my teeth and left the house.
I caught a glimpse of myself in a window, and that bitch instantly starts up with: “Good Lord you look like shit today”.
But then something happened with the other voice. For once, I felt like she really had my back this time. She took a big breath, puffed up her chest, put her hands on her hips and her big girl sassy voice on and shouted back:
“BY WHOSE STANDARDS, AMY?”
And the bitch voice stopped, mid-sentence. Mouth open. She blinked a few times, looked down at the floor, and stomped off in a huff.
That’s when I realised. By whose standards did I look like shit? By Society’s standards? If that’s the case, I think that Society can excuuuuuse me for a day if I’ve not put makeup on and gotten dressed up all fancy for the sake of studying and then going to therapy and crying off all that makeup anyway. Also, since WHEN did I care about Society’s standards? I’m fully aware of how ingrained it is to look good all the time, especially as a woman, but I’ve spent YEARS fighting that. I’ve spent YEARS not wearing makeup and not shaving for months and not wearing bras because I want to feel comfortable. I’m PROUD of that. I’m also not trying to peacock-fashion parade myself about right now trying to attract another person. I wasn’t planning on meeting up with anyone who would expect me to put in loads of effort to look good. I’m pretty damn sure it’s my therapist’s job NOT to judge me based on how I look. Lots of students in the library were wearing sweatpants too.
So, if not by Society’s standards, then by whose standards do I look like shit? My own? If I was judging myself by my own standards, then I needed a wakeup call. If I wanted to look amazing, I could have quite easily made myself up to look amazing, but I didn’t because I was just going to the library and therapy. I CHOSE to not put in loads of effort BECAUSE I DIDN’T WANT TO. So what RIGHT does that voice have to berate me for it? BY WHOSE STANDARDS?!
That voice, that Mean Girl, that little goblin that sits on my shoulder and whispers bittersweet nothings in my ear, she’s not real. She’s not me. She’s all of the character traits I have that I don’t like. She’s all kinds of insecure. She feels ugly. She feels unintelligent. She feels like she’s not good enough. She’s SCARED. She’s afraid to fail. She’s always felt like a failure. She’s unloved, uncared for, depressed, anxious, needy, lonely, spiteful, defensive, guarded. I pity her. No one should have to feel that way. No one gets to make me feel that way anymore. Least of all myself.
This voice needs some love. I am trying to reassure her that I’m working on my self-worth for HER. I don’t want to eradicate her completely because she is FIERCE. She’s fire and brimstone, she stands up and says it how it is. She has sass for days. She just doesn’t know how to express it in a healthy way. Sometimes she does, sometimes she has my back and she gets inspired and we ROAR together. She needs love. I believe that with enough love, she will be healthy more often than not, and the mean things she says about me will subside for the most part.
So. Every time she says something mean, I’m going to ask her: “By whose standards?” Every time it turns out to be by my own standards (most of the time), I’m going to ask her “are those standards healthy?” and when she comes back with “no” then I will show love, accept, forgive, move on.
It’ll go something like this:
Mean Girl: “You’re failing your Masters, you’re such a failure”
Me: “By whose standards, Amy? I’m not failing, I’ve actually got really good grades so far”
Mean Girl: “Yeh but you’ve not done it in a year like everyone else so you’re a failure”
Me: “But that’s judging by their standards, and they all support you and think it’s good for you to take more time, they’re really happy that you’re looking after yourself, and they’re also struggling to get it done in a year and secretly a little envious that they’re not doing it over two years as well”
Mean Girl: “Yeh but”
Me: “But what? Are you judging by your standards? What’s more important, that you get it done in a year and get bad grades and have a breakdown and struggle, or take more time and focus and get good grades and feel better about yourself?
Mean Girl: “…you might have a point”
Me: “I know. It’s okay, I’m scared too sometimes. But we’ll get there, we always do, don’t we?”
Mean Girl: “….yeh we always do. Have we really got this though?”
Me: “I think so. Let’s find out”
Mean Girl: “…m’okay.”
Me: “Love you. Go to sleep”
Mean Girl: “But….m’okay.”
Hopefully in time she will wind her neck in and pipe the fuck down. Once that happens, we can grow together.