How to stop listening to judging voices (Episode 64)

In this episode, host Kay Coughlin talks about how judging voices don’t have to control your life any more. Whether the judging is coming from somebody else or from your own mind, you have a choice about how much power it has over you.

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Transcript of episode is below.

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Transcript: How to stop listening to judging voices (episode 64)

Hi there. I’m your host, Kay Coughlin and you are listening to From One Caregiver to Another. I am a life coach for family caregivers who want to get some rest and feel less lonely. I’m not only the CEO of my own business, but I’m also a wife, mother to two teenage young men, and I’m the primary caregiver for my own mother. I figured out how to navigate all of these responsibilities and get into the mindset I need so that I can set boundaries and prioritize myself. That’s what I help my clients do too. And if we can do it, I know you can, too.

This is episode 64.

In my experience, listening to the voices judging us is one of the main reasons we have such a hard time putting our own needs first or such a hard time prioritizing ourselves and what we need and want in life. And that’s what I’m going to to talk about today. So I know that’s pretty tough and I just want to prepare you for that.

But before I get into that, I want to let you know that if you have not yet registered for my Prioritize You workshop, what are you waiting for? This workshop is for you if you have a hard time prioritizing yourself, whether it’s life circumstances getting in the way, or whether it’s your thoughts and beliefs that get in the way of doing it. Or maybe it’s the thoughts and beliefs and criticism coming from the people around you.

In this workshop, you are going to be able to start practicing how to prioritize yourself right away. So whether you want to get more rest or say no to requests for your time, or say yes to something you really want, like exercise. You’re going to be able to start practicing how to do just exactly that.

So head on over to Facilitator On Fire dot net slash events to get the link to register, or if you’re already a member of my Boundaries Community, you will find a link for that in the Library area.

Okay. Now I am going to ask you to think about judgment with me for a few minutes. So take a deep breath or two, if you need to, this can be a tough topic.

I already mentioned this, but it’s really hard to prioritize yourself when the voices you’re listening to are judging you trying to do it. But why is that?

Well, judging words and judging thoughts lead to feelings that don’t feel good and experiences that we don’t like. And I’m talking about things like guilt, shame, blame, resentment, feeling inadequate, feeling like you are less than deserving or not worthy.

These things suck. They are extremely challenging things to try to process and try to live with. And who wants that? I mean, who wants to feel diminished in the eyes of the people around you? Nobody. Nobody wants that. In fact, I have found that most of us and I mean humans, so I’m talking about all of us, we’ll do almost anything to avoid feeling and experiencing these things because they’re so hard.

And I am talking about myself here too. I’ve said this before on the podcast, but at my core, I am a perfectionist. So judging voices, especially negative criticism, that can really cut me down on the inside. Or it used to be able to do that to me anyway, those voices. Until I learned how to stop listening to them. And I’m going to get to that before the podcast is done here, I promise.

And even if the judging that we are hearing is good or maybe more positive, that isn’t necessarily so helpful either. It can be so easy to learn, to depend on getting approval from other people. And that’s actually what we would call people pleasing, which is another thing that I hear from my clients so often, is that they don’t take care of themselves, they don’t prioritize themselves because they really feel like they need to put other people first and seek the approval of other people.

So I get it. I know how hard this is. I’m right there with you.

Well, where does all this judgment come from anyway? I know the answer that you expect to hear is that it’s coming from family and friends and community members and colleagues.

And that is true, but there’s another answer here and it’s an unexpected one. And that is that the judgment also can be coming from inside of you. It’s not fair, but it’s true. So why is this happening? Why do we judge so much and so quickly and, and so easily. And it’s like we seem to be wired to completely ignore the connection between the act of judging, and the harsh effects that it has on our lives. And honestly, on the lives of the people around us. Judging is what we’ve been taught to do.

I think it’s really important to state it right here and to recognize that expressing judgment is normal in our culture. And it’s been a source of entertainment for at least thousands of years that, that we know of. I mean, you can look back as far as ancient Rome, where gladiators fought these bloody battles, and then the crowd got to vote on the fate of the loser. We see this still today in bull fighting by the way.

But judging is still a valuable and exciting part of all of our entertainment. Think of reality TV shows, you know, being voted off the island. I mean, that’s judgment. And you can think about what we used to call shock jock radio. I don’t know, is that called shock jock podcasting now, maybe? I’m not really sure, but what we know is that ratings come from harsh judgment and being shocking. And this is true for news programs, now, also, unfortunately.

This judging, it is reinforced around us. It’s coming from everywhere and it’s really rewarded. You get ahead by being judgmental.

What I’ve seen is that you literally, and I mean that literally, have to make a decision if you want to opt out of it in order to avoid it. And, and then you have to be on your guard. You have to be very aware of it and keep your eye out for it and make sure that it doesn’t get in and you do have to know how to neutralize it, if it does get in. And again, I’m going to talk about that.

I think of judgment as a kind of a trap, it’s kind of like a black hole and it traps a lot of your energy, the act of judging itself. And I’m talking about whether it’s positive or negative, it really demands a lot of your time and energy to kind of keep it going. To keep it in play.

Judgment really blocks our compassion. It blocks our compassion for ourselves and for other people, it just puts up this wall that totally stops any kind of productive conversation or healthy and supportive relationship building. You know, it cannot get past judgment. That’s why I think of it as a trap. Everything stops when the judgment starts.

So once I started outlining this podcast episode, I started to pay attention to the judging that I was consuming as the day went along. And this was just on a Saturday. Now I do tend to consume more media on a Saturday, uh, because I’m not at work for the most part. And I don’t have my routine of staying out of the media.

So anyway, I started to look around and here’s where I noticed the judgment. I saw it in newspaper articles that I was reading about U.S. politics. And that is probably a no-brainer. I heard about it, some judgment in a podcast episode on parenting. Then my husband was watching some YouTube channel that’s about awesome people. So that’s positive judgment, but it’s still judgment. Then my husband and I were watching this TV show where the main character is judged by everybody, and basically pushed out of society because of something that was done to him.

Then I read an article about people who expose sexual abuse in their community, and then they are ridiculed and made to leave their communities. That’s judgment too. So then I looked at Instagram. And I love Instagram and my feed tends to be positive judgment, but it’s still judgment. And the last one I’ll mention here is that I looked at Twitter. I mean, my goodness, negative judgment. I think that that is what makes Twitter profitable as a platform.

So I just say this to let you know that I see it all around me. And I’d like to invite you maybe to notice the judgment that you’re seeing around you too.

Another point here that I want to mention is that judging is a way to manipulate the people around us. And it works. Now we use judgment to manipulate people because it’s probably inconvenient or uncomfortable for us if people make changes. This is what happens when you speak up about your needs and then somebody judges you about it, or probably they criticize you about it. That’s going to stop you. What happens there is it keeps that person from having to face their own discomfort or their own inconvenience.

One place a lot of us face judgment is when we try to set boundaries in our lives, and when we communicate those to other people. Look, I wish that judgment and criticism didn’t go along with setting boundaries, but it does. And I just don’t want to try to hide it. I like to always be honest about boundaries. I don’t want to make them seem easy. They’re effective, but sometimes you have to go through some really hard stuff to get to the other side and get the benefits of setting the boundaries.

If you have heard other episodes of this podcast, you probably already know that I try really hard to look at the behaviors and cultural norms that I’m talking about as neutral and as data to help us understand our world and the people in it. Obviously this time around, I’m having a much harder time seeing judging as neutral because I have spent so much of my life trapped in it. And I mean, both positive and negative.

But judgment really is something that our primitive brains do to protect us, being able to make a quick judgment about what’s safe and what’s not safe. That really is going to help keep you alive if you’re being chased by a tiger.

So is judging bad? I mean, I can’t say that I, I don’t like it very much and it has held me back, but it is normal and it is something that we evolved to do.

Now that we’ve been through all of that and you’ve heard my thoughts about judgment, we really do have to ask this question and I promised you that I would get here.

How do you stop listening to the judging voices? How do you stop giving those voices so much power over you? How do you overcome the negative and harsh effects of judgment so that you can take good care of yourself and prioritize you?

 And I want to let you know that I have done this work in my own life. I know this works. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. Here’s how I’ve done this.

The first thing to know is that, and I’m just going to state it here very clearly, judgment does not have to control your life. You have a choice about it. It’s really that simple. I’m almost certain that no one has ever said this to you before. No one has said it to me, but it is true.

We have a choice about whether or not judgment is in control of us, about the work of being in a place where judgment doesn’t control you. That is a practice. And I think that’s really good news because it means that you can do it no matter what the circumstances in your life are. It means that you can get better about it over time. You will be able to approach it in the future with more ease and maybe less anxiety than you do now. That has certainly been my experience over time.

So let’s talk about the practice of it. Well, it always starts with noticing the judgment. And I did that for you, I took my day and I noticed where I was seeing the judging come in as inputs in my life. And you can notice that too.

Now, one of the things that I didn’t talk about was that I also have a practice of journaling. It’s what I call doing a thought download, where I go into my own head and see everything that’s going on in there. And yes, I do write down the judging that comes out of my own head. Sometimes it’s pretty awful. Sometimes it’s pretty extreme. But the first step is noticing it. And so when I go in my own head and I take a look and I write it down, at least I have a good chance of figuring out how I’m going to deal with it.

So once I notice the judgment, once you notice the judgment, whether it’s coming in from around you, or you see it in your own head, the next step then is going to be to process it.

What you’re feeling and thinking about it when you see it, or when you participate in it, whether it’s judging that has to do with you or has to do with someone else, there are ways of taking those thoughts and being very deliberate about managing the thoughts, and feeling the feelings so that you don’t have to be stuck in them.

And then the last step is to decide what you want instead. You can decide that you want to limit the judgments that you are consuming so you can stop reading and stop listening to, I mean, any of the things that I mentioned today. I could have chosen not to consume any of those things that I was hearing and paying attention to on Saturday.

And once you’ve decided what you want, then you can also set some boundaries about the judging that you will listen to in your life when it comes in from other people. You can learn to be gentle with yourself when you’re judging yourself, and you can decide you’re not going to be held back by it anyway.

So in other words, you can kind of learn to ride the wave of judgment. That’s what I’ve learned to do, to notice it and to process it and decide what I want to do about it. And I have to tell you, I truly, I’ve learned to make judgment much more neutral for myself so that it doesn’t hold me back. And it doesn’t keep me from taking good care of myself anymore.

Is this easy work? I’ve said it before, this is not easy work. Judgment is everywhere in our culture. It is all around us. It’s just coming out at us from all sides and that’s positive as well as negative judgment.

But I just really want you to know if judging voices are holding you back positive or negative. And I’m also talking about the ways that you judge yourself. If you’re anything like me, then you can learn to practice not letting judgment control your life so that you, you can live a life that you’ll find on the other side of judging.

This is what I think of as a life of true freedom, when I am not being held back by what other people think of me, and also what I think of myself. You know, if my first instinct is to judge myself and then to let that stop me, I am not free at all. So I think this is to live a life of true freedom, where you can have whatever you want and you can do whatever you want. And be in a place where you can get the rest that you need, and you can be in relationships that are supportive and healthy, and you can say no to things and you can say yes to things and you can take a job doing what you want instead of what everybody else wants for you.

And this is really what I mean by freedom.

And when I talk about prioritizing yourself, this freedom? That’s on the other side of judgment. That’s the reason it’s so important to me to talk about judgment instead of hiding from it. So that you can get the skills that you need to live a life where judgment doesn’t control you either.

If you liked this episode, you have to go check out my free community to talk about boundaries. It’s a safe space for us to do the work of making decisions about what’s okay and what’s not okay. And communicating those decisions to the people around us. It’s not easy, but we can support each other while we do it. You’ll find the link in the show notes, or you can just go there now. And it’s at facilitator on slash boundaries. I can’t wait to be with you again in the next episode, From One Caregiver to Another.

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your guide

Kay Coughlin, CEO of Facilitator On Fire, is a business coach for the non-profit sector and social justice businesses. She is also well-known for being an advocate for family caregivers.

In every forum she can find, she shouts that it's OK for every human to earn a living, set and enforce boundaries around their bodies, thoughts, feelings and actions. You can join Kay's free, private online community to talk about boundaries here.

Kay also teaches about emotional labor, how to rest, and Human Giver Syndrome, and is the host of the "From One Caregiver to Another" podcast and author of "From One Caregiver to Another - Overcoming Your Emotional Grind."

Kay is well-known for her public speaking on boundaries and self-care. 

Facilitator on Fire is a subsidiary of Donor Relations Mindset LLC, which Kay founded in 2015. She lives with her husband and children in central Ohio, and is the primary caregiver for her own mother, who lives right next door. Kay can be found on LinkedIn and Instagram.

Copyright 2022. All rights reserved, Julia Kay Coughlin and Facilitator On Fire.

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