What Judging My Friends Really Says About Me


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Why does she have such a hard time with that thing that is so manageable to me?  Why doesn’t she just suck it up and see the best in it?  Why does she act like it is SUCH a big deal?  She’s kind of a wuss.

I have a judging problem.  I know, it just jumps off the page and makes you want to be my best friend, doesn’t it?  It’s incredibly embarrassing, but it’s true and it’s a problem. I judge my friends and acquaintances for choices they make all the time, especially as it relates to weakness.  The above thought pattern has actually gone through my mind way more times than I care to admit.  For someone who wants to consider myself a compassionate and open-minded person, those thoughts prove that I have a long way to go.

So what’s it all about?  Why do I keep harboring these thoughts that I don’t want anything to do with?  What’s at the root of my judgmental attitude towards others, and particularly other women?  Why do I hate the very idea of showing weakness?

I’ve analyzed it a lot over the years and for a long time I thought it was just how I was raised.  My mom is a very steady person, not prone to emotional highs and lows, and that inner stability combined with a lifetime of working outside the home gave me the impression that that’s what it meant to be a strong woman.  (My mom has never used those words, they are simply my own interpretation.)

But recently I picked up the book Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brene Brown and stumbled upon something interesting.  Brown asserts that the feeling of being annoyed or critical of someone else’s demonstrated weakness is actually a sign of a vulnerability problem.  I was taken aback.

I like to consider myself a vulnerable person.  I like to be open and honest and am not a particularly private person: 5 minutes into a conversation and you will likely know quite a lot about me.  But it turns out there is a difference between being “not particularly private” and actually being vulnerable, and the main crux of that difference is taking risks for emotional exposure.  If I disclose a lot about the circumstances of my life but not about my fears, failings, and weaknesses, I am not actually risking much.  I’m not being vulnerable.

So what’s the big deal?  Why does vulnerability even matter?  Couldn’t it be best to keep yourself locked up, to not risk emotional exposure and the hurt it might bring?

Well apparently, research shows that people who have the courage to be vulnerable are actually the happiest individuals on the planet.  They enjoy the greatest life satisfaction, quality relationships, and sense of self even amidst trials and hardships.  They have made peace with who they are deep down and are free to live and love in the healthiest way.  That sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

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