Comparison, judgement, self-doubt, insecurity
I want to tell you the stories that I have been told from real women here in East Texas. These stories reveal a toxic problem in female culture that I just have to address.
“I heard her say “If my kids acted like that…”
Of being judged by others
“The lady just glared at me from across the store while I [breast] fed him, but he was literally screaming, and I couldn’t wait!”
Of people not-so-quietly criticizing their choices
“The waitress said to her coworker ‘Did she order all of that food just for her?’ It’s none of her business anyway, but I ordered for my whole family.”
Of people even intentionally trying to hurt a woman’s self-worth with their words
“A mother told her teenage daughter (while laughing!): “Honey, if you ever get fat, I don’t want to see you wearing shorts like that.”
Telling half-truths, or building a narrative that fits their ill-informed perception
“Within earshot she told her kids, ‘do you want to have to work a job like that? Well that’s why you go to school.’ When the truth is, I AM in school and I love my job!”
Good grief! You would think that as we grow older that we would also mature, right?
Wait, aren’t we all adults here?
How common is it for someone to observe a tiny piece of our lives and then craft a whole narrative of assumptions and judgement based on that one tiny piece of information? It happens all the time.
Here are some thoughts I have on the inner-workings of these types of mean-girl behaviors:
There is this strange thing that happens when someone makes a decision that, deep down, you judge: the little voice of comparison and self-doubt taps on your shoulder and whispers “who does she think she is?” This initial judgement is actually often synonymous with “she must think she’s better than me” or “she needs to fall in line with the tribe.”
Let’s not even get started on the perils of herd mentality, but rather, lets take that train of thought another step deeper. If this hypothetical person isn’t falling in line or following tribe rules then here’s the root fear motivating the judgement: “she must think my choices are wrong.” And if the person can get really honest about that root fear, we can boil this all the way down to an underlying core truth they don’t want to face “I am insecure in my choices, and my judgements are only a reflection of me”.
Ok, ok, that got really deep, really fast, but I’ll toss in some examples:
Ask yourself how you feel when someone talks about polarized parenting topics with you, something that matters to you like choosing to birth fully un-medicated vs. with an epidural. Or the choice to vaccinate or circumcise. Or maybe you don’t have strong feelings about these birth or parenting topics but you can think of another relevant issue. Sometimes people can really get their hackles raised just by seeing other people’s choices.
For some women, when they see a choice someone else makes, the temptation creeps in to believe that it somehow threatens their worth and value. The way one woman chooses to live, birth, parent, etc. is not a critique of how you live, birth, parent, etc! Don’t be fooled:
Other people’s choices are not an attack on your choices.
If someone is criticizing, bad mouthing, trash-talking, taking personally, or is otherwise unsupportive of who you are or what choices you make, their issues are their own. They may not know it or believe it, but it has really got nothing to do with you. It’s on them, baby.
It takes self-awareness, humility, and maturity to be able to see that our judgments are really about ourselves. Women doing the hurting probably aren’t at a place where they can realize they are operating out of insecurity and self-doubt. It’s all a journey, right?
As I have grown in confidence and authenticity (thanks in large part to my trainers at ProDoula) I’ve learned that releasing others from your judgements releases you from self-judgement as well.
And as wise Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you will be criticized anyway.”
Does judgement-free support for your birth and parenting choices sound like something you’d like a bit more of? Drop us a line!