By Jennifer McDougall
If you’re recovering from addiction or living a sober lifestyle, judgment is something you’ve likely spent a lot of time dealing with. While it’s easy to focus on the judgmental people around us who seem intent on holding us back from making healthy choices in our lives, that’s not what this article is about. Instead, we’ll be exploring how to deal with judgment and overcome it so that we make better decisions without allowing other people’s opinions or judgments to get in the way.
When people are judgmental, it’s a reflection of their insecurities.
We all have an inner critic. It’s that little voice in our head that tells us we’re not good enough, smart enough, or thin enough—and when it comes to addiction recovery and sobriety, this negative mindset can be detrimental. There’s no denying that judgmental people can be toxic to your recovery process—but what if their negativity reflects their insecurity?
When someone makes a rather offensive comment about your lifestyle choices, they’re usually doing so as a way to feel better about themselves. For example, when someone makes fun of you for being sober, it might be because they’ve been struggling with addiction themselves and have underlying conditions they have not healed. Likewise, when someone says something rude about how you are not drinking at dinner with friends or family, it might simply be because they feel guilty about their consumption of alcohol. Due to societal norms, they believe there is nothing wrong with having a beer or glass of wine with a meal. For you, though, you are educated and informed on the fact that no amount of alcohol is good for you. Your choices reflect the knowledge and insight you’ve been given, and you make healthy choices to go against the grain of what society believes to be acceptable.
When you judge others, you make yourself look bad.
The truth is, you don’t know what a person’s life has been like. You don’t see how they were raised or what hardships they have faced in their lifetime. Whether someone is judging you for your addiction or choosing to be sober, it doesn’t matter because you cannot control how others view you. It is essential to let go of judgment because we make ourselves look bad when we judge others. When we think of other people for how their life looks compared to ours, it makes us feel angry and frustrated that things didn’t turn out differently for them than they did for us–but that’s not fair! Not only does this bring us down emotionally, but it also takes away from our happiness because instead of enjoying our lives, we end up dwelling on everything that isn’t going right in theirs, which leads back into an unhealthy mindset and even possible relapse.
You will never get better if you allow yourself to be crushed by others’ opinions. Instead, focus on what makes you uncomfortable about their views and use that information to improve yourself.
The best way to do this is by focusing on what makes you uncomfortable about the opinion instead of getting lost in the self-doubt surrounding it. For example: “I’m not good enough” makes me feel like I need to change myself or prove everyone wrong by doing something great and impressionable. But instead of taking someone else’s word for it, I can ask myself why it matters so much what other people think and then figure out how I can become more comfortable with my success (and failures). The only person’s opinion that matters is your own. How you talk to yourself matters, and you need to be extremely mindful of that, especially when other people are trying to influence your thoughts and behavior in a negative light.
What is judgment?
The definition of judgment is a decision or opinion that’s been made about someone or something.
Judgment can be positive or negative, but often it’s based on the actions of others. This can make it hard to deal with when you’re in addiction recovery, as your decisions and opinions are often based on other people’s experiences (which may not be accurate for your own). However, when we’re sober, we have more clarity about what’s happening around us, which helps us see things more clearly than we could have when under the influence of drugs and alcohol.
This ability to think more clearly means recognizing when someone else is offering their opinion as fact or a belief that they have that may or may not be true—and then using that information appropriately. Letting go of judgments allows us as individuals to come closer together instead of further apart because each person feels like they needn’t defend themselves against an attack. Having tremendous self-love and self-respect is like a shield that guards you against toxic people and their negative projections of how you should think or act.
What is it like to be judged?
Being judged can be scary because you’re worried about what other people will think of you. This is especially true if you have low self-esteem. When people have low self-esteem, they care so much about what other people think of them and feel the need for constant validation. They want approval from others to feel pretty, loved, valued, smart, etc. You are all those things, and as soon as you begin loving yourself more deeply, what people think of you won’t matter much because you love yourself, which is a beautiful thing.
To a certain extent, being judged is inevitable. As human beings, we’re all judgmental at some time. But as someone in recovery from addiction and mental health issues, you may be more susceptible to judgments than the average person who has never gone through what you have experienced.
Why? Because your brain is still healing from years of abuse or neglect, it’s no wonder that you might feel insecure or defensive around others who are unfamiliar with your situation. Individuals who often use drugs or alcohol to help them cope with uncomfortable feelings like stress and anxiety; may also avoid social problems by withdrawing into their world, where they can avoid having their past exposed to others.
How to Deal with Judgment in Sobriety
There are many ways of dealing with judgment, which may differ depending on your past experiences and the personality type you identify with:
- Don’t let others’ opinions hold you back. If someone doesn’t approve of something you do or say, it’s not worth letting it bother you—you are responsible for how YOU feel about yourself. Don’t let someone else’s opinion sway what matters most: your goals and what YOU want to achieve.
- Focus on your own goals and what YOU want to achieve. Instead of focusing on others’ opinions or trying to please everyone, we should focus our energy on ourselves.
- Surround yourself with people who support, encourage, and love you. These people could be strangers you meet through a support group or a church. They might not be people you’ve known for long, but they see, understand, and want to be there for you. Lean on these people.
- Practice affirmations and mantras to empower yourself.
- Address someone’s rude or offensive remark with something enlightening, such as asking them a question about why they feel that way rather than being snarky or rude back to them. Avoid the temptation to get on their level. This is an opportunity for your to shine and be the bigger person.
- Realize what people say and do has nothing to do with us and has everything to do with them.
Don’t let society or judgmental people hold you back from making healthy choices in your life.
When we make a choice that goes against what others are doing, it may not seem like a big deal at the time, but it can have lasting effects on our self-esteem and confidence if we allow ourselves to be crushed by others’ opinions.
When someone is judgmental towards us, it’s because they have an insecurity that they’re projecting onto us. Knowing this about them can help us realize that it’s OK to make choices different than theirs without being ashamed or embarrassed.
In the end, it’s up to you to decide how much weight you want to give the opinions of others. Do they have value? Don’t let their beliefs dictate your choices. If someone is being judgmental, it’s likely because they’re unhappy with themselves and projecting that onto others. In either case, try not to take it too personally. Instead, focus on what makes you uncomfortable about their opinions and use that information to improve yourself.