look beyond their behavior

When I was in nursing school I heard one of the most influential pieces of advice I have ever heard. It has totally shaped the way that I approach my nursing career and has impacted my personal life as well. Cathy Ryan (one of my instructors) would frequently tell us to “look beyond the behavior”. At the time it seemed like it was just one of those kooky things that the professor was saying, but I have since realized it’s wisdom.

 

Basically all behaviour is an external expression of an internal process. If we look solely at the behavior, we can often times MISS that internal process. If someone is mean to you, could be because they are tired or crabby or they don’t like your shirt. Not necessarily because they don’t like you or you did something to cause it. Not everything that someone does TO you is BECAUSE of you.

 

That leads me to the subject of this post. I was asked something along the lines of, “how do you feel when people judge you”. (Either because I am eating something “unhealthy” or my usual MASSIVE amount of food or because I am sweating WAY too much or whatever non skinny person thing I am doing in the moment) My short answer was roughly “I try to understand that it isn’t about me. Their judgement is more about their shortcomings than anything I am doing or saying.” It got me to thinking.What are some of the reasons that people become judgey and how should we deal with them?

 

So in no particular order or rank this is what I thought of and how I would deal with it.

 

1) Maybe they are judging what is on your plate because they are jealous. I get this one a LOT “I wish I could eat that much”, or “I’d weigh nine million pounds if I ate like you”. Either they think that it’s an inappropriate  amount or frequency or content.

 

It really doesn’t matter what they think. Maybe they weren’t given enough acceptance as a child and so they can’t be accepting. Maybe their dog was abducted by aliens and force fed until its stomach exploded and it died and what is on your plate is the last meal their dog ever ate. Maybe they think they know something about “nutrition” and how it applies universally to every human on earth. Maybe their husband called them fat this morning and they are taking their self pity/hatred out on the world.

 

How I deal with it depends on the person and how well I know them. Sometimes I just smile and nod and make some comment about how lifting weights makes me have a super metabolism. Sometimes I just ignore them. Sometimes I just hand them my phone with my progress photos and say nothing. Mostly I just smile and ignore. It doesn’t matter what they think because what I do is what works for me and I am not going to change because of them.

 

2) Or possibly they think it’s wrong. They think that “fat people” *shouldn’t* eat certain foods. They think that “fat people” shouldn’t eat at all, especially in public! I think that this one usually comes from people not having an understanding of what it means to have food addictions. Or what is actually required for the human body to sustain life.

 

These people are easier for me to deal with. I eat what makes me happy. Period. End of thought. I pay no attention to what makes OTHER people happy if I eat it. Granted I don’t eat grains and I don’t eat MUCH dairy so I get less of the “why are you eating a box of twinkies?” and more of the “you ate a whole jar of peanut butter this weekend?!” kind of thing. But no matter what I eat, I only eat what makes me happy. If it doesn’t make me happy I don’t eat it.

 

It is easy for me to understand that people don’t know me or my story or what works for me. They don’t know what I have been through and they don’t know my stress/success. I  can remember that and eat my food that makes me happy and smile and ignore them!

 

3) Sometimes I hear people say something like “women shouldn’t lift weights” or “women shouldn’t lift heavy” or “that’s a man’s lift”. People get judgey because they feel like women might get all veiny/muscular/whatever, because they don’t understand that women who aren’t on the juice won’t look like Arney! Or maybe they feel like their opinion of “sexy” is the only one that is REAL. Or maybe they are genuinely concerned that I might hurt myself in the gym. They might possibly think that the “one true exercise” for weight loss is CARDIO, hours and hours of  fast treadmill.

 

This one is another one I deal with on a case by case basis. If it’s just some random stranger in the gym? Chances are that I didn’t even see/hear them because I had my headphone on and music loud. I tune people out in the gym. If it’s someone I kinda sorta know, I don’t really bother with a response although “thanks for your concern” is usually a good one. My family has done given up judging me on this one out loud because they know it’s a lost cause.

 

4) When people hear that I don’t like to do the treadmill and that I prefer hiking, mountain biking, long distance trail rides, or mountain climbing (which are generally considered “extreme”). I sometimes get judged. It could be because they see me having massive amounts of fun doing zany things and they are jealous. Could be because they think that “extreme” things are dangerous and that women shouldn’t do them.  Maybe they knew a friend of an uncle’s sister’s neighbor’s third cousins twice removed’s ex fiancee who went hiking and never came home and left her to deal with six dogs and three children and a parakeet and her life was NEVER the same! Maybe they don’t like dirt/bugs/heat/extreme sweat/being alone and away from amenities/whatever and think that no one else should like them either.

 

This one goes right back to I do what makes me happy. If people question me I usually just smile and say “it makes me happy”. Just because someone else doesn’t like it doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t like it either. If God had made us all the same the world would be a terribly boring place.

 

5) Sometimes I hear “you shouldn’t dress like that” or “a lady should look like” or “NO CARGO PANTS”. I think people who want to impose their way of dress upon the world are people who really don’t understand individuality. Maybe they grew up in a home where individuality was frowned upon. Maybe they think that conformity to the ideal that they hold is the only way that anyone can be happy and they really want me to be happy. Maybe they LIKE not having pockets??

 

I usually smile and nod and go on about my day. I don’t worry much about what other people think. If someone who doesn’t pay my bills is that concerned with what I wear they can just not look at me 😉

This is really the biggest things that I personally get judged on. How about you?

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