Are People Judgmental or Just Have Low Self-Esteem

When we judge others it may be because of our own low self esteemI listened to a program by Caroline Myss on Self Esteem recently. One of the many things she talked about was how our judgments of others can be because of our own low self esteem. That got me thinking about how judgmental we can be, and the real reasons for our judgments of other people.

Most, if not all, people have low self esteem issues around some aspect of their lives. Body image and level of success are two of the biggest ones that I see most often, with body image being number one by far. We think we are too fat, too thin, too short, too tall, too dark skinned, too pale, the list goes on and on. Judging ourselves that way is bad enough because we are all beautiful and perfect in our own way.

Judging Others

A lot of time we project our own low self esteem by being judgmental of others too. My family likes to watch Dancing With the Stars. It’s easy to sit at home watching the show and say things like “I cannot believe she is wearing that” or “What makes him think he can dance? He doesn’t stand a chance in this competition!” What are we really saying when we judge the stars like that? A lot of times, if we really think about it, we will find that what we really mean is “I wish I had the nerve to do that.”

I’ve only watched the show for a few seasons. I watched it the first time because I’m a NASCAR fan and Michael Waltrip, one of the drivers and team owners in the Sprint Cup series was a competitor on the show. Because he was popular he was able to stay on the show far longer than anyone thought. He wasn’t exactly the best dancer. Gary Busey was on DWTS last fall, and no he wasn’t the most gifted dancer either. It was very easy to be judgmental of their performances and question why they agreed to do the show.

Once you get past judging their performances though you can learn something important about yourself. They were stepping well outside of their comfort zones to do something they have never done before, and had the nerve to do it on a very popular network television show. How many of us have the nerve to do that? I would guess not many. So when we judge them are we actually being critical of them, or of our selves for not being brave enough to try something new? Once I came to that realization I wished I was a celebrity so that I could get invited to do the show and see if I have the nerve to show up every week.

How much of the body shaming that you see and hear about all the time now actually stems from the shamer’s own low self esteem? If a young lady feels amazing wearing a beautiful dress and it shows on her face, her smile can light up the room. It doesn’t matter how she looks. It is about how she feels. A lot of times we are afraid to take that chance to feel amazing and instead we choose to criticize them for taking it instead. Besides, it isn’t my place to judge her appearance when I can enjoy her happiness.

A lot of people have been giving Carrie Fisher a lot of grief over her appearance in the new Star Wars movie. I think a lot of that actually comes from the fact that we haven’t seen Princess Leia on the big screen in 32 years. All of us who saw her in Star Wars when we were in our teens or younger (I was 8) are getting older and seeing our favorite characters on the screen again looking 32 years older brings out all of our self esteem issues about getting old ourselves. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the original cast again and sharing that experience with my kids.

My Own Experience

In the area of success, I have seen the same thing directed at me in the past. I took the typical path by going to school and college then getting a well-paying job. I reached a point where I got fed up with that rat race and decided to do something else. I went to massage school, got into network marketing and eventually quit my job. There were some people who cared about me and tried to talk me out of that path. People with college educations and good jobs don’t become massage therapists and network marketers and quit their jobs. It just isn’t the “responsible” thing to do.

In most cases I know the criticism came from the fact that they had often thought of doing their own thing but didn’t have the strength to go against the grain and do their own thing the way I had done. When they see someone who does, it stirs up their self esteem issues and they can get critical. Sometimes they eventually get over it and joining them.

The next time you notice yourself being judgmental of others, take a moment to look inside and find where it is coming from. You will probably find an area of your own self esteem that you can work on. Then thank that person for helping you grow.

You can find the Caroline Myss program on Self Esteem that inspired this post hereCaroline Myss on Self Esteem.

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree? Let’s start a conversation in the comments below.

Disclaimer and Disclosure

I am not a psychologist or any other kind of mental health practitioner. These are just my opinions and observations. I am an affiliate marketer, so I may earn a commission if you choose to order products through any of the links on this website.

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8 Responses to Are People Judgmental or Just Have Low Self-Esteem

  1. Hi Ben,

    I spend a lot of time coaching and teaching people to run an online business or blog.

    It’s often the first time they’ve taken action on their dreams, instead of doing what they were always told they “should” do.

    So, I take my job very seriously because I know I’ll be dealing with a lot of low self esteem issues.

    You’re really spot on with this article… people are so often critical (this won’t work) (this guy didn’t really do this) (etc). The criticism, more often than not, is an inward reflection. It’s their conviction that (this won’t work FOR ME) or (I really can’t do this) (etc). So while they’re criticizing others, they’re really being critical of their own doubts, their own past failures, and their own low self esteem.

    Interesting article.

    -Donna
    Donna Merrill recently wrote about..How To Start A Blog On WordPress – And WhyMy Profile

    • Ben says:

      Hi Donna. Thank you for taking the time to leave me a comment. I appreciate that. I’ve seen the same thing with the few people I have coached with their websites. You really spend more time on building up their confidence and other mental aspects of the business than you do on the technical details, just like in your recent post you spend more time on the “why” than on actually building the WordPress blog.

  2. Beautifully said Ben and I can SO relate to your example about well-meaning friends trying to “help” you! Many years ago when I decided I wanted to leave my cushy job as an administrative assistant to go into hotel sales there wasn’t a friend outside of my workplace that didn’t try to talk me out of it – some just said I was plain crazy. Fast forward 5 years and instead of sitting at a desk typing letters and contracts I was traveling the world in first class as the Director of Sales and Marketing for a major tourist attraction. None of that would have happened had I not mustered the courage to believe in myself and not listen to the naysayers.
    Marquita Herald recently wrote about..4 Reasons You Could Be Resisting ChangeMy Profile

    • Ben says:

      Hi Marquita. Thanks for sharing your story. We all have to live our own lives. Good, bad, right, or wrong, when we are called to something we have to trust it and try it out. It is only afterward that the “right” or “wrong” labels get attached anyway, so we have the ability to make it what we want.

  3. Dana says:

    Hi Ben,

    Oh boy, do I know what it’s like to be judgmental.
    It’s funny – because it seems like such a normal thing to do.

    Speaking for myself, I did it because of the reason I just mentioned above, but also because I had an inferiority complex. Being judgmental toward others made me feel superior – so I guess you could say I subconsciously used it as a coping mechanism.

    Of course, I didn’t know I was doing this, and I don’t think others do either. We sure don’t like to be on the receiving end of it – but if we can learn to be the observer of our lives and everything that takes place, we’re in a position to gain some clarity over why we do the things we do.

    And if we’re willing to admit who we have been to ourselves (which isn’t so easy), we (may) get to the root of it and then we see why others are doing it.

    I’m familiar with Carolyn Myss’s work. She has some good material.

    I think most of us are walking emotional reactions to our internal environment. We don’t mean harm, we’re just in pain and don’t know what to do about it or how to properly diagnose it.

    Great topic. Things like this need to be addressed.
    Dana recently wrote about..How to Use Anger Constructively (Instead of Allowing it to Consume You)My Profile

    • Ben says:

      Hi Dana. You’re absolutely right. Judging other doesn’t have to be a sign of low self esteem because it has become a learned behavior and a social norm. If you are are with other people and they are all being judgmental, you stand out like a sore thumb if you aren’t playing along. It is something to be aware of. Thanks for taking the time to visit and leave a comment. I appreciate that.

  4. Hey Ben,
    You are leaps and bounds ahead of most people as you are also in the minority. In fact only happy people succeed because success is happiness in my book and if someone is always criticising another, it is the lack of confidence within them.
    People want to feel good and often by putting someone else down they feel better, where as if they could butter themselves up and talk themselves up, then they would surprise themselves.
    I always think it’s a shame when someone has to low ball another in order to feel good. I think it comes down to incompetence and low self esteem.
    I don’t really understand the whole competition thing , I’ve always only competed against myself.
    I also loved what Donna says about low self- esteem I totally agree with that.
    I love what you said about people getting up and having a go and pushing themselves out of their comfort zone. People don’t realise the guts it takes to do something. It’s not what they think.
    Great post my man- Jennifer

    • Ben says:

      Thanks Jennifer. The thing with putting someone down is that they really don’t feel better. They may feel superior for a few minutes but it doesn’t last. And those people who push themselves outside of their comfort zones do feel better. It is exhilarating when you do something new. I like comments from Donna too. She always has great thoughts to share.

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