I know this feeling. It’s so familiar to me. It is familiar to children who have been bullied (particularly by isolation) or children who have experienced contempt or rage. If you are the black sheep of the family and you are reading this, you will know exactly what I am talking about. In fact you will love my blog post 4 Wicked Ways Which Make Family Life Harder which uses the scapegoating storyline from that wonderful musical ‘Wicked’ to highlight dysfunctional family behaviour.
This beautiful, smart young girl was literally struggling to walk into the dinner hall at school because she felt as if people didn’t like her. I can feel the anxiety rising just thinking about that and a bit of anger too, for the people who think it’s okay not to be kind.
Judging is unkind
Have you ever thought about it in that way? Yes we all do it. Some of us do it more than others. I can be quite judgemental. I have strong opinions on things – especially when it comes to bullies. Here’s another example of how we judge our children.
Last week, my friend took her daughter to a christening and the main talking point was how ‘good’ the children were.
I HATE IT WHEN PEOPLE TALK ABOUT HOW GOOD OR NAUGHTY CHILDREN ARE!
YES I AM SHOUTING INTO MY KEYBOARD. WE HAVE TO STOP THIS.
Can you see why?
Are you good all the time?
Are you always nice?
Do you forget stuff and cock up?
It’s massively unfair, unrealistic and a huge pressure to place on a small person who every day is still learning. In fact, we are all learning every day. We are working towards mastery, understanding and inner peace – or is that just me?
A child’s behaviour is a message for us to help them in their struggle. All behaviour is driven by feelings. ~ Smiley Coach Lisa Parkes
Every day is a school day
Sometimes I am not ‘good’ (whatever good looks like) or I can be a bit narky or shouty, but that doesn’t change that fundamentally at my core I am a good person. I am human and I make mistakes. And boy have I struggled to shed my perfectionist skin and realise that it is safe to be me…safe to be me with all my broken, hurty, inappropriate, silly, lost and wonky bits.
To know that I won’t get told off or be punished or disappoint people if I decide to do what is right by me and not by them.
It is safe for you to be you too. If other people don’t like that and they are judging you – that’s because they are judging themselves.
If we are judging people, we have no time to love them. ~ Mother Teresa
If we are expecting our children to be good and nice all the time and we are not, they will think we are hypocrites and that’s not kind or fair. We have to be able to role model the behaviour we want to see or at the very least, work on it as a family goal.
Do you worry about what other people think of you?
It’s likely that if you do, then you carry shame or you are a perfectionist. You are externally focused and your image or self-esteem is very much dictated by what goes on outside of you. When you are internally focused, you have appropriate boundaries and know that whilst other people are entitled to their opinion it doesn’t define you. Watch this video and hear me talk about why we need stronger boundaries if we worry about judgement.
Do you want other people to like you?
On a first meeting do you make it more about what they think of you or are you standing there thinking ‘I wonder if I am going to like you?’
Your likeability rating is determined by you and you alone. People see the world through a filter. Imagine the water filter in your Brita jug or your coffee filters. They stop the stuff you don’t want in your glass. That’s what boundaries do. Boundaries keep you safe and you get to decide what is okay and what is not okay by you.
The thing is other people don’t get to define us unless we let them. It gives away our power. And yet, we label and criticise children a lot. My niece came home from her new school this week and showed me their classroom reward chart. I understand that teachers have to maintain decorum and calm in the classroom in order to do their jobs. I understand they want to motivate children to do the right thing but motivation needs to come from within the child not externally. When I asked how she thought the child would feel when they have to go on the ‘naughty cloud’, she thought about it long and hard, before saying ‘sad’.
Your filter is broken = poor boundaries
If you have rock solid boundaries, then your filter will discern what you are letting in and what you are keeping out. Rock solid boundaries mean:
- that you know yourself and have good self- awareness (you would be surprised how many children don’t know who they are because they are looking for the adults around them to tell them)
- you are very clear about what you will and won’t tolerate
- you aren’t embarrassed or feel like you are being a pain when you ask for what you want
- you can speak your truth with kindness and stay calm
- you don’t need to call 3 people before you make a decision
- you don’t need compliments to know that you look ok (okay I won’t lie it’s nice to hear them)
- you don’t need other people to like you because if they don’t, you can say ‘not my tribe’ and move on
- you don’t feel guilty when you speak up or ask for what you need
- you don’t make other people’s opinions your truth (they are not facts, they are other people’s opinions)
- you won’t let other people use and abuse you
- you don’t over give and over function to make sure the other person is ‘happy with you’
Here are 4 things that will help you. It starts with you and then it will quite naturally filter through to your child:
- notice when you are judging yourself (based on external factors and not your own feelings or what feels right for you)
- learn how to set boundaries with love and kindness
- become an observer instead of a judge. Notice what you see and what is going on for you instead of making the other person wrong or wanting to change their behaviour
- Focus on effort and personal qualities like kindness, polite, loving, caring, creative, committed, determined and know that all feelings determine behaviour. So when we feel better, we do better.
So back to my client. The one who is terrified of judgement. I am coaching her to have a good sense of self, stronger boundaries and to know that other people’s reaction to her is about them and their choices. It has nothing to do with her. We finished our session by working out that …
In the sea of life she is a beautiful mermaid and she keeps swimming to shore hoping that one day she will be accepted in human world. She is lonely and desperate for company but looking in all the wrong places. She worked out that what she needs to do is to stay true to her scaly tail and seek out her mermaid crew who totally get her, support her and love her for who she is. This came with a realisation that she may have to swim alone for a while and get comfortable with that until she found her mermaid crew. She then came up with ways that would help her swim through the lonely waters.
Great session! I love that! Better to be alone and a bit lost temporarily, than live a lie. Don’t you think?