One thing I can tell you for sure about my dieting days: when I was deepest in self judgement and self loathing, I was also quickest to judge others as well.
My judgements were a self perpetuating cycle. First I did something “wrong” (like eating a piece of cake,) so I called myself all sorts of nasty names (like “lazy” and “undisciplined.”)
But then I would see other people doing the same thing (eating cake, that is) and my brain automatically labeled them as “lazy” and “undisciplined” as well. Because it didn’t make sense that they were normal for eating cake, and I was a slob for doing the same. Obviously they must be slobs too.
Obviously. See how your brain works when you are sooooo deep in diet drama? And the more I judged others, the more I judged myself for other things like skipping the gym, or eating cake….
Judgement became a toxic habit for me, and it’s a habit I see happening for many people who are stuck in the diet mindset and wanting to break free.
Here are two of the biggest judgements that we tend to make about others:
1. Judging what others eat — It’s so easy to look at someone else’s plate and think “oh my gosh, I can’t believe they are eating THAT!” It’s important to remember that what we see is just a single snap shot of that person’s life, and chances are you don’t know their whole story, what they eat for the other 20 meals of the week, and why they make the choices they make.
The best way to avoid this judgement: keep your eyes on your own plate. Focus on what fuels you best, and avoid jumping to conclusions my the choices that other people make.
2. Judging how others look — The media has taught us a nasty habit of judging and commenting on how others look. Just look at what makes popular headlines: “has she put on weight” “has she lost too much weight?” “Is that butt even real”….
Seriously, it’s maddening, and it teaches us that A) we have a right to have an opinion on what other people should do for their bodies (we don’t) and B) that everyone is looking at us and scrutinizing us (they aren’t).
Just as with judging others for their food, judging others for the way they look is likely not going to portray an accurate or fair picture. Chances are you don’t know their whole story.
By breaking free of my judgement of others, I was able to be more kind and gentle to myself, judge myself less, and eventually break the habit all together of self criticism and criticism of others.
If you find yourself speaking harshly to yourself, or judging yourself, chances are you are judging others as well. Sometimes it is much easier to start by changing the way we speak and think of others, and developing the habit of kindness towards the people around us will make it easier to be kind to ourselves as well.