Chapter 13: Survival Skill #2 – Living Above the Judgments of Others
Here’s a statement my experience has taught me. And a statement I never want you to forget.
I cannot stop you from judging me. But you cannot stop me from living above your judgment.
Hallie, never live below the judgments of others. Live above the judgments of others. This is the second survival skill you will need for walking the path of freedom and for feeling free in a world of slavery. To keep yourself from being dominated by any individual or group, you must learn how to live above the judgments of others.
Many young people your age already hate themselves. They feel like they never measure up. That they are never good enough. That they are never obedient enough. That they are never smart enough. That they are never handsome or pretty enough. That they are never athletic enough. That they are never cool enough.
That they are inferior. That their lives are not worth living.
Why? Because the dominance hierarchy on Earth has produced a world of non-stop judgment.
Non-stop. It never ends.
Everyone wants to be better than the next person. They want to be superior, not inferior. They want to be the dominator, not the dominated. Everyone wants to be the judge, not the judged.
Everyone wants to be higher, not lower on the dominance hierarchy. Everyone wants your diamonds, not just the power classes. They want to define your identity and disrupt your inner peace.
Therefore, it is only a slight overstatement to say that young people hate themselves, and hate their lives, because they have been awakened to a brutal reality. That being: that they are being judged all the time by everybody for everything. And as a result, their inner lives are in perpetual conflict as they struggle to live above, and not beneath the heavy weight of constant judgment.
Some might object to me making these comments to you. I can almost hear someone saying something like this: “That’s a colossal overstatement. That’s not true. Teens need to be taught that most people aren’t thinking about them at all. They shouldn’t be so narcissistic anyways.”
Which is a judgment. Which makes teens feel even worse. That they are invisible. That they haven’t been judged as being important enough by others to be noticed. That for some unexplainable reason they went from being cute, adored, and delighted in as small children, to being condemned, abhorred, and despised as teenagers.
Let me prepare you for the world I brought you into. You must learn to deal with the absolute fact that most everybody will be judging you all the time about everything.
You already know this. And it’s not going away in your lifetime. You will be judged. You will be labeled. You will be called names. You will be bullied. You will be threatened. And all potential dominators have this in common: they want you to live below their judgment. They want their judgment to control you, to keep you in their assigned place for you.
The whole world is one big, battle for survival. As a result, the whole world is one, big dominance hierarchy. As a result, the whole world is one, big ball of judgment.
This is the world I brought you into.
So, let me prepare you for this world. Let me give the second survival skill you will need for your journey. That being: how to live above, not below, the judgments of others.
In what ways will you be judged?
First, in this world, everything – and I mean everything – about your physical body will be judged. In our culture, physical beauty is a fast path to dominance. The physically attractive will dominate the school spirit in every level of your education. The physically attractive dominate social media. The physically attractive dominate advertisement. The physically attractive dominant entertainment. The physically attractive are usually the leaders of society.
In this world, many people assume the dominated position because a more physically attractive person has assumed the dominant position. All the “uglier” people end up listening to them. In this world, less attractive people surrender the diamonds of their identity and inner peace to more attractive people.
A couple of years ago I was chaperoning an overnight field trip for your brother’s 6th grade class. During one activity, the group I was overseeing was doing a treasure hunt. They had to solve clues and riddles in order to find the right paths that would lead them to their treasure.
The prettiest girl in the class took the lead. She immediately made her conclusion about the first riddle and started leading the pack down a meadow trail. They all followed her.
Except for one girl. Someone just as smart. But not as attractive and socially confident. In an insecure, weak voice she yelled to the group, “Guys, it’s this way,” pointing in the opposite direction.
After we chaperones helped the less popular girl, get the mindless pack following the pretty and popular girl to stop, we all re-evaluated the riddle. The one girl who was not as attractive was actually correct. Following her logic lead our group to the right path and ultimately to the treasure.
The point is NOT that physically attractive people are bad and should not be trusted. Or that they will always lead you astray. The point is that physically attractive people are dominators. And that most people will defer to someone who is better looking. They will follow someone who is better looking. They will listen to someone who is better looking. I’m not saying this is right or wrong. I’m only saying it is so.
The physically attractive dominated the public high school I attended. They were the most popular and the cool crowd. They dominated the leadership positions of my college. I see them dominating culture and social media. I see them dominating leadership positions in business and politics around the world.
I’m not against attractive people. You are one. I am just preparing you for something. Physical beauty is idolized in this world. And you will be judged on every aspect of your physical appearance.
And if someone judges some aspect of your physical body to be insufficient according to their judgment – they will vocalize it. If they are “nice enough” to not vocalize it, they will communicate their disapproval through their body language.
I’m not sure I can pinpoint a single aspect of my physical appearance that has NOT been judged to be inferior by someone else. I have frequently been made fun of for my fair, Irish complexion. I always wished I had one of those deep suntans so that people would not make fun of me. Anytime that I attempted to get a tan, it always resulted in three days of pain from a red sunburn that simply faded in just a few more days.
I’ve also been told numerous times in my life how parts of my face were unacceptable. I had extremely crooked teeth growing up. Needless to say, many people could not conceal their judgment about how unsatisfactory my teeth were to them. They just had to vocalize their disapproval to me – which was hurtful. Which impacted my identity and inner peace. It was such a relief to get braces in college. Once my teeth were straightened, I avoided the painful judgment of others about my teeth.
With my teeth straightened, judgers looked elsewhere for an opening for dominance. They focused on my nose which had been broken multiple times in basketball. People had no problem vocalizing to my face how unacceptable my nose was to them. Eventually, worn down from all the mean statements from others, I had my nose fixed. My nose is still not a thing of beauty, but it’s better than it was. Getting a “nose job” has helped me avoid the painful judgments of others about my nose.
In my first couple of decades of life I was extremely skinny. Many people were happy to tell me how weak, skinny, and inferior my physique was to their judgment. Therefore, I lifted weights diligently until my physique looked more impressive. Gaining some muscle helped me avoid the painful judgments of others about my physique.
Now in my mid-forties, I look back on all this with horror. That so much of my life was lived under the domination of other people’s judgments. That I surrendered the diamonds of my identity and inner peace to mean people. That I allowed others to dominate me through their cruel judgments and nasty words. That their judgments drove me to make changes.
I don’t regret the changes. They gave me more confidence. But I do regret the motive for the changes. I regret living under the judgments of others. I regret being manipulated through the cruel pettiness of insecure human beings. People who found happiness in my unhappiness. People who found security in my insecurity. People whose judgment said more about them than it said about me.
I have bad news. It’s going to be worse for you as a girl. You're already in my eyes a very beautiful little girl. And I'm not just being a glass-half-full person when I say I think you're going to be a very beautiful woman.
But I’ve noticed something. People already are judging you based on physical beauty. At two, they are already projecting how beautiful you will be or not be. Welcome to the world. It just never ends.
Everything about your physical appearance is going to be judged. They're going to judge your eyes. They're going to judge your skin and its complexion. They're going to judge your nose and ears. They're going to judge your mouth and teeth. They're going to judge your hair color, style, and texture. They're going to judge your neck. They're going to judge your body type. They’re going to judge your bone structure and muscle tone. They're going to judge your breasts, your butt, your legs, etc.
Welcome to the real world. It’s all one, big dominance hierarchy. And physical beauty is the fast path to dominance. If another girl thinks she’s prettier than you, don’t be surprised if she’s not nice to you.
· In her own mind, she has claimed the dominant position.
· In her mind, she is the judge. You are the judged and you must live under her judgment.
· In her mind, she has the right to disrespect you.
· In her mind, she can justly be mean, nasty, and condescending to you.
· In her mind, she’s better than you.
Before I go too far, let me say something. You are beautiful. You are going to be tempted to be the dominator. That you can treat people bad who you judge to be more physically unattractive than yourself.
Don’t you dare. Don’t judge people, love them. Don’t label people, love them. Don’t lord over people, love them. Lift people up. Don’t put them down.
Second, in this world, everything about your intelligence will be judged. If someone judges themselves to be smarter than you, they will assume the dominant position over you. They will expect you to live under their judgment. They will expect you to submit to their will and decision making. They will expect you to wear their labels for you. They expect you to surrender to them the diamonds of your identity and inner peace.
Your intelligence will be judged in any possible scenario you find yourself in. People will want to know your knowledge and skill level:
· in any sport you participate in
· in any subject you study in school
· in any musical instrument you lay your hands on
· in any job you are working
· in any discussion on video games and entertainment, etc.
Because if people judge themselves to be smarter, more skilled, and more experienced, they will assume the dominant position. They become the judge. You become the judged.
After leaving ministry, I remember working a construction job for a couple of months. I was low man on the totem pole when it came to building skills.
And the men I worked with treated me accordingly. The loved their area of dominance over me. Were they bigger than me? No. Were they wealthier than me? No. Were they more well-traveled than me? No. Were they more educated than me. No. Were they any better looking than me. Not really.
But they were better at installing kitchens. Therefore, they judged themselves to be dominant. They had the right to be condescending and treat me as though I was stupid. Because I wasn’t “smart” in their area.
I have to also add this. One day they were trying to make me feel worthless and insignificant because they had watched more movies than I had. That they were smarter, more worldly wise, and more knowledgeable about modern entertainment. My congratulations to them. They were better couch potatoes than me.
Be prepared. You are in a world where everyone is vying for dominance. People trying to make you look stupid will be a daily occurrence. When it comes to knowledge and intelligence, everyone is looking for the high ground. Everyone wants to know more than you and judge themselves as more intelligent, that way they get the dominant position. They want to be the judge, not the judged. They want the “right” to be mean and nasty. They want to define your identity and disrupt your inner peace.
I should also add, your intelligence will be judged by your ability to speak. If you are clear and articulate, they will judge you to be intelligent. If you are shy, quiet, slow in delivery, or inarticulate, they will judge you to be unintelligent.
Is it any wonder why public speaking is almost always near the top of any “greatest fears” list? Legions of people are extremely smart, but they do not want to expose themselves to the judgmental ears and eyes of a crowd. I get it.
Third, in this world, everything about your possessions will be judged. If someone judges themselves to be richer than you, they will act dominant over you. In their minds, they are the judge. You are the judged and must live under their judgment. In their minds, they are superior, you are inferior. In their minds, they can treat you bad. In their minds, they are better than you.
Recently, we began watching Season 1 of Little House on the Prairie. A show I watched growing up. In one of the episodes we were watching, Mary and Laura were nervous about their first day of school. Not only was it their first day of school. They were new in town and had never attended school before. And they were farmer’s daughters with plain clothing.
As they arrived at their one room schoolhouse in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, the judgmental eyes of all the other students were on them. Like a wolf pack, the students instantly smelled Mary and Laura’s fear. They mocked their ignorance and inexperience. They looked down on the fact they were poor and in drab clothing.
And the richest, prettiest girl in school, Nellie Olson, quickly asserted the dominance of an alpha female. She scanned Mary and Laura up and down with her eyes. She then gave them a condescending look and said, “Hmm. Country Girls.”
Nellie judged them. Nellie labeled them. Nellie treated them like crap. Nellie attempted to rule over them on the playground. Everyone had to play the games that Nellie decided. Nellie expected them to live under her judgment.
Something Mary and Laura learned not to do. Instead, they learned to stand up to Nellie and to live above, not under, her judgments.
“Nellie Olson’s” are a dime a dozen. They are everywhere. In every workplace. In every school classroom. In every sporting event. In every social gathering. In every church. In every family. In every setting. Never be one. Never live under the judgment of one.
The “Nellie Olson’s” of the world want to dominate you. They will judge everything about all your possessions. They are looking for an opening to assert dominance. They will judge your clothes and shoes. They will want to know the brand names that you wear or do not wear. They want to estimate in their minds how much your clothing and shoes cost. If they judge you to be inferior to them concerning these matters, they will believe themselves to be dominant over you. And they will treat you accordingly.
The “Nellie Olson’s” of the world will judge you by the lunch you pack, the type of foods you eat, and even the lunchbox that it is in. They will judge you by what you drink out of. Even food comparisons turn into dominance hierarchy battles.
And I’m sorry, but you will be judged by your family. You will be judged by the physical appearance, intelligence, and social confidence of your father, mother, and brothers. You will be judged for having a brother with Down’s Syndrome and whose Autism makes him uncomfortably stim. You will be judged by the car we drop you off in. You will be judged by the house we live in.
You will definitely be judged by the professions of myself and your mother. You will be asked frequently, “What does your father do?” And, “What does your mother do?”
Hmm. I wonder why they want to know this?
I wish I did not have to share these things with you. But I think it's going to help you survive in this world of slavery. And I want you to have a game plan on how you're going to deal with this.
Just understanding the universal normality of being judged is a great start. Make no mistake, all humans are constantly judging and comparing themselves with one another, because they are trying to see where they fit in the dominance hierarchy.
Be prepared. You live in a world where everyone judges one another all the time about everything. The world is one big, battle for survival. Which caused the world to become one, big dominance hierarchy battle. Which caused the world to become one, big ball of perpetual judgment.
How do you survive in such a world? By not surrendering the diamonds of your identity and inner peace to anyone. NO ONE gets your diamonds. By protecting your mind by knowing how to think for yourself. And by having the courage to live above, not below the judgments of others.
Here's the statement again that you'll probably hear me say a 1000 times in the first 18 years of your life.
I cannot stop you from judging me. But you cannot stop me from living above your judgment.
This is what you must always think, and even frequently say, to the “Nellie Olson’s” of the world. Those who want to assume dominance over you. Those who have set themselves up as judge over you. Those who want you to live under their judgment.
There may be occasions where someone tries to make you feel inferior because of physical appearance, intelligence, wealth, skills, etc. Feel free to look at them and say, “I cannot stop you from judging me. But you cannot stop me from living above your judgment.”
Let me give you a visual. Make a fist with your right hand. This fist represents you. Then make an umbrella shape with your left hand, palm-side facing downward. Place your right fist beneath your now arched, umbrella-shaped left hand. This umbrella-shaped left hand represents any judgmental person attempting to dominate and control you.
This is what the “Nellie Olson’s” of the world want. For you to be living underneath the shade of their judgment. For you to be controlled by the label they have slapped on you. For them to achieve a sadistic inner peace by the knowledge they have disrupted yours.
You can’t stop people from attempting to do this. And some might succeed for as long as you allow it. But don’t stay there. Don’t live under the judgment of another human being. Living free requires that you learn the skill of living above the judgments of others.
Now take your right fist which is below the umbrella-shaped left hand and do three things: 1) pull it out from underneath the left hand, 2) place it above the left hand, and 3) forcefully pound the left hand down. This represents the choice to live above the judgments of others. You can’t stop people from judging you. But they can’t stop you from living above their judgments.
I want you to remember this visual every time someone comes up and makes some kind of mean, nasty comment. Remember they want dominance over you. They want to let you know that they believe themselves to be superior to you. They want to be the judge. They want you to be their judged. It’s just part of man’s baser nature.
Let’s give a practical, future scenario. Let’s say that one day, when you are having a bad hair day, some catty girl sarcastically spouts, “Nice hair, Hallie.” And it is abundantly clear that she is just saying it to be mean, and as a means of dominance over you.
In that moment, make a decision. Choose to live above, not beneath the judgment of another. You, not her, have the power over your own identity and inner peace. You have the power to say to yourself, “I cannot stop her from being a jerk. I cannot stop her from being judgmental and cruel. But she cannot stop me from living above her judgment.”
Get to the place where you can reply, “I know making fun of me makes you feel like you’re more. But it doesn’t make me feel like I’m less.” In some situations, you might even say, “You’ll never earn my respect by disrespecting me.”
As I close this chapter, let me clarify two things. First, I'm not talking about being hyper-sensitive about any and all comments that could ever be made to you. I beg you, don’t take yourself too seriously.
Get over yourself. Soon. Enjoy good-natured ribbing that may come from one of your friends causing you both to laugh about an unmanageable hair day.
You will need to learn to laugh at yourself. What I’m talking about in this chapter is living above bad-natured put downs coming from people who clearly want dominance over you.
Second, the judgments of others, even those given with bad motives, can occasionally be helpful. Learn to judge the judgments.
· Are these things being said as constructive criticism? Is the person saying this to build and better me?
· Or, are these things being said as destructive criticism? Is the person saying this to dominate and destroy me?
· Can even the words of an enemy, maliciously spoken to hurt me, also be used to instruct and to help me?
Criticism, whether constructive or destructive, is like potential food. Some of it is harmful like poison berries. Don’t ever pick it up. Don’t ever eat it. It’s fatal. Don’t consider it for a moment.
But most criticism is edible, even if it is not enjoyable. Take it, eat it, and slowly digest it.
What happens during the digestion of real food? Your body breaks down and sorts everything you’ve eaten. Some usable parts of the digested food will be retained and incorporated into building the cells of your body. The unusable parts of the digested food will be rejected and eliminated from your body all together.
The same goes for the digestion of edible, critical judgments from other people. Your mind should slowly break down and sort everything that was said to you. Some usable parts of the criticism should be retained and incorporated in order to make you better. The unusable parts of the criticism should be rejected and eliminated from your mind, emotions, and life all together.
Having made these two important clarifiers, let me double down on this admonition: live above the judgments of others. May your mentality always be: I can’t stop you from judging me. But you can’t stop me from living above your judgment.
These two survival skills: 1) learning how to think, and 2) learning how to live above the judgments of others, will help keep you from being dominated in life. They are absolute essentials for walking the path of freedom and for feeling free in a world of slavery.
Now let me now give you some very specific preparation for living in this world of slavery. I’m going to share with you how to protect yourself from various types of power-class dominators (the religious, ruling, and rich classes) and practical-class dominators (parents and siblings) who will want control of your diamonds.
Diamonds and Dominators: How to Feel Free in a World of Slavery contains an introduction and 20 Chapters. I am releasing this introduction and the first 13 chapters of this book in my blog.
Also, chapter 20 - "How to Feel Free in a World of Slavery" can be read on this website by clicking on the Read tab.
If you would like to also read chapters 14 to 19, I would encourage you to buy the book in either ebook or paperback formats.
Chapter 14: You Were Not Born to be Dominated by the Religious Class
Chapter 15: You Were Not Born to be Dominated by the Ruling Class (Part 1)
Chapter 16: You Were Not Born to be Dominated by the Ruling Class (Part 2)
Chapter 17: You Were Not Born to be Dominated by the Rich Class
Chapter 18: You Were Not Born to be Dominated by Your Parents
Chapter 19: You Were Not Born to be Dominated by Your Siblings
Thank you for taking the time to visit my website and blog. If you have found these thoughts to be helpful, please share (and subscribe if you have not already). Thanks, Joe.