October 15, 2018 (posting November 7, 2018)
I work with a lot of people who have dissonance between what they want out of their lifestyle, career, relationship, or health, and what they have become or are expected/pressured to be. I use Emotional Freedom Technique and homeopathy to help each person discharge emotions and have the power to step into the life they want–without feeling judged. I have been observing in different cultures and situations how people subtly judge, and wanted to write a bit about it today.
I went to an event outside of Dublin called “Hammered Hiking.” It was advertised as a walk to a local pub, a 4-hour challenging hike through the hills, a brief stop at another pub, then a walk back to the meeting location. It sounded like a lovely way to meet some people in a casual atmosphere. What surprised me was the number of people in the group who did not drink. It came up in casual conversation as someone passed around a small flask, and three of the 10 of us did not drink at all. We got into an amazing and eye-opening conversation about judgements and social expectations of others. The question all the “non-drinkers” have been asked/hassled about/judged around: Why don’t you drink?
It’s a question I have heard myself. When I traveled to California and was on a detox, people were astounded I would go there and not have any wine. “What? We are near Napa! You can’t go home without having a glass of wine with me!” I also was asked by a couple of people if I was pregnant. Because WHY would I CHOOSE not to drink? The women I was with were astounded to see that I danced, laughed, and engaged as much or even more than if I had been drinking. I know people who will carry around drinks at parties and pretend they are drinking in order to deflect the social pressure. There can be a strong undercurrent of judgement as well. I.e. If you don’t drink, you must have a Problem with drinking. (If someone is respecting themselves and the others around them by honoring their choice of sobriety, we should be applauding them, not judging them!!) Others look for a Reason beyond just the fact that one doesn’t want to drink that day/week/month/ever. My clients and friends report having to make excuses (I have to drive, I’m not feeling well, I’m on a detox, it interacts with my medication, I’m trying to lose weight, etc.) for it to be socially acceptable not to drink. One friend of mine in Minneapolis quipped, “if I say I’m not drinking alcohol, people wonder why and judge me. If I say I’m straight-edge, I’m a cool part of the culture.”
One person in the hiking group said “I feel split from myself when I am drinking. I don’t like that feeling.” Another woman just doesn’t like the taste of alcohol. Both of them reported being pressured to drink over and over. As if the people they were with were not comfortable unless everyone is drinking. One said, “I don’t pressure others not to drink because I’m not. Why do they feel they should pressure me to drink?”
I hear the same thing said about food judgments. I know a woman who has an extremely high metabolism who has a hard time gaining weight. People say things such as: “Really, you are just going to eat a salad?” “You’re so skinny-why don’t you eat a sandwich!” With the increased allergies in our society, the people with serious food allergies versus just intolerances are not always taken seriously. “Oh, you’re one of THOSE gluten-free people.”
Why do we make these negative/judgmental-sounding comments towards people for their choices instead of being supportive? Is it us trying to feel better about our own habits and choices? I know in Minnesota we have a mentality where we have to offer food or drinks of any sort over and over again to feel hospitable. “Are you sure you don’t want anything?” I have friends who don’t like chocolate. They get comments like, “who doesn’t like CHOCOLATE! That’s _(insert word of choice).”
I really think that we don’t realize we are making comments that are negative and tiring to others. Perhaps we think we are being playful. Regardless, the words we say have an impact on others. My challenge for myself and for you this week is to watch how you engage with people about their choices. Are the words you are using implying judgement or support?
If you are ready to make changes in your life and let go of the emotional and social ties around it, send me a message and we will set up a complimentary 30-minute talk to explore how I can help you. I provide a safe, non-judgmental space for you to share and heal. I look forward to our conversation.
P.S. Comment below to share other ways you observe judgement in everyday conversation.