I am quiet and reserved with many, and fully myself with only a few.
This puzzled me for a long time. I struggled to figure out, to name what makes the few different than the many. What is that single characteristic that they hold that makes them different?
Is it their age? Is it their experience, wisdom, social class, economic status, religion, gender, education or intelligence?
No, no, no, and no. Regardless of how I tried, I simply could not find a common thread that applied to them all. I knew there had to be something, it had to be there somewhere, and if I just looked at them hard enough I’d find it.
Eventually I figured it out, or thought I did.
It had to do with how much they judge me.
I am quietest with those who judge me the most – avoiding ridicule or disapproval – it is better not to speak, interact, or engage beyond courteous civilized behavior (because then they can’t hurt you).
I am my full, open, engaged and authentic self – with no fear of ridicule or disapproval - with those who don’t judge me and fully embrace my unique humanness.
Quite satisfied with myself, I neatly put the judgers in a box labeled “poopy-headed judgers” and put the non-judgers in a box labeled “awesome people” and tucked them both away on my mental book-shelf.
At some point later I smugly shared my revelation with my beloved, who doesn’t universally share my opinion about these folks - that I so neatly labeled. She does, however, see the difference in my behavior depending on who I’m around.
She said to me, “Of the people in the Poopy-Headed box, or the Awesome People box, which one are YOU in?”
Before the words left her lips I realized that my judging them as poopy-heads, made me a poopy-head. Ughh, I am those I condemn, smugness snuffed out.
She went on to say, “How can you expect to be judged for who you are, if you hide your true self from others? The only difference between the “poopy-heads” and the “awesome people” is how much of yourself you let them see. If you were your full, authentic self with the poopy-heads, you would quickly realize most of them are awesome.”
And there it was, crystal clear. There is no difference in THEM, the difference is in ME. They weren’t judging me (for the most part) – or were judging me for who I was portraying. I took this as unfair, which it is. It was unfair of me to be or act less than my genuine self.
When we feel judged it’s not (for the most part) an act on the part of someone else, it's our own fear of being judged (not actually being judged). It's this emotion, this fear, which affects our behavior.
It’s a feeling. It’s a feeling that we have control over. It’s a feeling we decide (consciously or not) to allow ourselves to experience. We give ourselves permission to feel what we feel.
The problem is that it’s easy to get tricked. Our ego is so convincing, so compelling, that the fear of judgment doesn’t feel like a feeling at all, it simply feels like reality; and reality is something we appropriately respond to.
When we let the fear of others possible opinions (which are none of our business anyway) cause us to be less than who we really are, everyone gets cheated.
You get cheated out of being fully alive and authentic (which is your birth right), and everyone else gets cheated out of getting to know the awesome person you really are.