A part of the Radical Humans Series
You know that person who you just can’t stand? They have these habits that drive you up the wall? Well, that person is actually just a mirror of you. The things that bother you about them, are the things that bother you about yourself. The things you would rather not acknowledge about yourself. The things you try to keep hidden and out of sight. So any time you judge someone else’s behavior, it’s an opportunity to ask yourself what part of you needs your acceptance and attention?
Caveat - there are times when someone else’s behavior is triggering a fear of yours. In these cases it’s not necessarily that they’re shining a spotlight on a disowned part of you, it could just be that you’re scared. I’ll focus on the former example for the most part in this post, but the process applies either way.
There’s a simple process by which we can reclaim the truth of what’s really going on in the situation, empower ourselves, and find more compassion and acceptance of others. It’s a process called Owning Judgements. I didn’t invent it, I learned it from one of my mentors Reuvain Bacal.
The process unfolds over three simple steps
Name the judgment
Acknowledge whatever is happening for you internally that you’re trying to avoid by putting the judgment on the other person
Claim a desire for what you want going forward
And specifically, the language I use is:
I judge you that…(fill in the behavior and label you’re putting on the other person)
What that brings up in me that I have been unwilling to feel or acknowledge is…(fill in your internal experience usually including emotions like sadness, fear, shame)
What I want (from you, for you, for me, etc) is…
Let’s have an example to make this clear. And a word of clarification first - I recommend doing this process only with people you have a strong relationship with, and who understand the process. You can do it on your own or with a friend’s help for someone that you judge but don’t actually know.
Let’s say you meet someone at an event and they seem inauthentic to you. They’re putting on a nice face and talking about all the wonderful things in their life, but it rings hollow in your perception. You judge them as fake or phony, and you feel kind of grossed out.
Well, here’s where the process starts. You would say to yourself or whichever trusted people are there with you, I judge this person as a fake or phony when they seem to put on a nice face but don’t mean it. What that’s bringing up for me that I’ve been unwilling to acknowledge is that I do that same behavior when I meet new people, and I don’t like that about myself. I feel ashamed about that. What I want for me, them, and everyone else is to feel comfortable being honest and authentic even when I’m not feeling great about myself.
Now you have clarity on what’s really going. The projection or judgment has been pulled back to you, and you’re no longer pointing the finger at them. I find this empowering, because when you take ownership of the truth, you also gain ownership of the power to work with it. If you want long term resolution of this pattern and many others like it, the best path I know is to identify and eliminate the beliefs that are driving your behavior of being inauthentic when you meet new people in the first place. Once you eliminate those beliefs, you’ll feel comfortable just being yourself, and it usually won’t bother you when other people aren’t being authentic because you understand they’re just operating from their beliefs.