What to do when you feel Judged by your own Community

Lea Misan (United Kingdom)

Everyone has readily accessible tools at their fingertips to freely express their thoughts and feelings. Visibly. Widely. But this freedom comes with invisible shackles. The more of a free-for-all we experience, the more pressure we feel to conform, the more judged we feel and only seemingly free. This has always been the case. From the extremes of the Inquisition and the Witch Trials when being judged was a death sentence, to excommunication – such as of the philosopher Spinoza who was ostracised and excommunicated from his community in the 17th century. His viewpoint has much to offer us when exploring what to do when you feel judged by your own community.

The polarising effect

Today, the very palpable fear of being ‘cancelled’, facing severe backlash and public condemnation for one’s actions or statements, is just as potent. Visibility of each one of us, coupled with the anonymity of social media, amplifies our fears of being judged and cancelled by a tendency toward mob justice. Perhaps not physical death, but being cancelled is akin to death in every other way: it leaves people feeling ostracised and socially isolated.  Cancel culture is about shame for the person being cancelled and about acceptance for the cancelling mob. This cancel culture has a highly polarising effect.

Learnt patterns and how you respond

Before we can explore what to do when you feel judged, let’s first examine what you do?

  • Do you align and adopt?
  • Do you withdraw and keep silent?
  • Do you rage, rebel & react?

These three ways of responding when you feel judged are learnt patterns. Perhaps one of them has become your usual attitude. Underlying these responses to fear are unspoken myths we have told ourselves out of our desire for acceptance and our fear of shame. Do you recognise any of them?

The myths we tell ourselves

Myth No. 1: The majority is always right

If most people hold the same view they must be right, even if I feel and think differently. I need to align myself with the majority.

Myth No. 2: People in the community experience things in the same way

Only when we experience things in the same way can we be a community.  I need to withdraw or keep silent if I experience things differently.

Myth No. 3: I am a centre of action, free and self-determined

We humans act on the world. We are separate from the world we live in, separate from nature. I choose how I act.

What we do when we feel judged

Go slow and notice

When you feel judged by your community the first thing is to go slow. To notice what is your natural impulse, notice what you do, what action arises within you. Is there a belief that motivates that action? Tracking the belief enables you to unpack it.

Interrogate the impulse

The impulse to align and adopt, does it come from a belief that the majority is always right? Or a fear of being overpowered, judged and cancelled?

The impulse to withdraw and keep silent, does it come from a belief that I experience things differently from my community and so it is better to keep silent for fear of being overruled?

The impulse to rage at injustice, does it come from a belief that I am free and self-determined, that I choose to set myself apart from the community?

Holding the polarity between fear and hope

Within the polarity between fear of shame and hope of acceptance, we suffer a polarising effect.

Source: iCN Issue 45  (Executive Coaching); pages 31-33

About Lea Misan

Lea Misan is an accomplished consultant in systemic psychotherapy and process-oriented psychology who is passionate and dedicated to helping people involved in conflict, abuse, trauma and in leadership positions. She is also a Facilitator, Trainer, Coach, Founder, and Director of the mental health charity Act for Change.

A firm believer in continuous learning and development, Lea holds an LLB in Law from the London School of Economics. She is a Fellow in Holocaust Education with the Imperial War Museum and a Fellow with the School of Social Enterprise. Lea is the author of two books, ‘A Body’s Call to Presence’ and ‘The Tribe Within’ (publication due in June 2023).

Website Link https://leamisan.com/