The Four Agreements, Self Judgement vs. Social Judgement

From the card
Don’t take anything personally: become immune to poison.
The whole world can gossip about you and if you don’t take it personally, you are immune. Immunity to poison in the middle of hell is the gift of the second agreement.
From me
Do you remember the last time you heard someone was gossiping about you? Remember the sting of knowing that there was something so horrendous in your life that people had to talk about it behind your back? How could they? Why didn’t they just come talk to me? Who are they to judge me?
Do you remember the venom that was then released from you as a result?
I remember the last time this happen to me. It was last year sometime, I found out someone very close to me, had hidden opinions of me, and I found out because they gossiped. Too bad the opinion was not very positive. When I heard of the “gossip” for the first time, nothing mattered more than the pain I was feeling.
I tried repeated to myself over and over again, “this is a challenge for my ego,” but I could not hold on. I told myself I could get through this without completely exploding self righteous bullshit all over the place. But I couldn’t.
My immediately reaction was astonishment and hurt. I became defensive and angry. I could not believe that they didn’t have the decency to talk to me first. I judged them right back, even though it felt terrible. With every word that slipped unfiltered out of my mouth I was hurting more and more.
It took me awhile to process the situation with a different point of view, and when I did I watched myself soften into a place of understanding and acceptance.
Why did it hurt so bad? Surely worst things have been said about me. I wasn’t called any vulgar names, actually nothing but the truth was said. But the pain stemmed from being judged for my life choices, to me it seemed I was being judged for who I was at the core. I have been in a constant struggle with myself, and since I quit my job, I have left myself open to copious amounts of free time in which I spend mentally abusing myself.
One of the most difficult jobs I have ever done, and am still doing, is being a mother. It is deeply personal and challenging. My oldest daughter is 17 years old, so I am no stranger to judgement being passed on me in this department. Especially as a young mother, I endured this often.
I have been ignored, spoken to as a child, and snubbed by the other moms on the playground just because I didn’t fit the bill of the average everyday mom. I have been asked if I was my daughter’s sister more times than I can count, and at finding out I was her mom, the shocked facial expressions are all I have ever needed to completely shut down.
The judgement and ridicule for me was interpreted loud and clear. However, I am not that young mother any more, I am an adult who has lived and learned.
I am not great at following the parenting curve. I don’t find parenting all that hard. I roll with the punches, and have made my fair share of mistakes and parental triumphs. Honestly, none of that matters, in my opinion what matters, is how a parent is able to learn about and best guide their child.
My take on parenting has changed dramatically as the years have past. I used to take everything my children did very personal, as if it were a direct reflection of who I am, and my abilities to be a “good” mother.
Now, not so much. I still get wrapped up in the little things at times, but I do my best to allow my children to express their divine individuality and I try to help them understand how they best fit into this world.
Maybe my approach takes a bit longer for a child to grasp, much longer than the rules of, “do I say, not as I do,” or “because I said so.” I offer up choices with explanations, because I want to raise decision makers. Problem solvers. People who accept responsibility for their actions because it feels right, not because they have been convinced through fear.
I don’t think I am right, and I also don’t think that anyone who disagrees with me is wrong. We are free to raise our kids the way we choose, and nothing should get in the way of that. I believe in myself, and I will explain to anyone who is interested how I came to this parenting philosophy. The catch is, even though I believe all of this, I still create a world where I am misunderstood, and hurt by those who judge me.
I know deep down that people in my life are still going to wonder why there are drawings hung in a disorganized fashion on my living room wall with blue tape. I know that my neighbors won’t understand why my kids run around outside unsupervised without shoes on. I get that people can’t wrap their head around why I let my kids speak their minds even if it sounds rude. Why during the summer I don’t force them to take showers. Or why I let them eat when they are hungry and not by a set schedule.
The gossip that hurt, it was me hearing the following statement as if it was an insult, “free range parenting.” Yes, it hurt my ego. I heard this description of me, and interpreted it as people thinking that I don’t care about my children. As if I am doing nothing to help guide them into greatness. I already think I make mistake after mistake, that I am too quick tempered and distracted when I hear their little voices.
I already judged myself strongly as a parent, albeit for different reasons, but hearing someone else judge me was something completely different. This situation was pushing me to feel convinced that, “yep, I am a total failure.” I began to think, if others feel this way, then it must be true.
There are two very important things here: #1 This hurt so bad because it is reinforcing my own fears, #2 I couldn’t acknowledging that this person was judging me from their perception of the world.
As I work through integrating The Four Agreements into my life, this will be a corner stone; the thing that I return to, time and time again, to ground me in the reality of a new dream. I must remember that personal perception is the key to understanding others and ourselves. We all have own our view of the world, filtered by our past and the agreements we made with ourselves as we grew up, trying to make sense of the world around us.
I don’t see the world as you do, you don’t see the world the same as your spouse, or best friend. No one sees the world the same. You might think I am gross because I leave pizza out over night and still eat it. You might think I am raising little assholes because my kids debate about everything. You might think my house should always be clean because I don’t have a “job.”
You and I can think whatever we want about whoever we want, but it is time to understand that these judgements are our own personal views of how the world is. Not acknowledging the perspectives of others is forcing them to live in your dream instead of respecting theirs.
Accepting this is the first step to not allowing the poison to affect you. You have to stop the poison, the gossip, the judging. You have to speak truth and honesty. You have to accept that not even your own children see the world through the same looking glass as you do.
As you decrease the poison in your mind and the venom that is spits from your mouth, the more love and kindness you will put out. The more understanding and acceptance you practice the more positivity will flow through you.
You will be able to hear poison spoken about you and say “I see your perspective, and I don’t agree.” Just let it go, the thoughts of other’s are not who you are; and as for the other person they are hurting more than you’ll ever know.
Practice observing how you react next time poison comes your way, and how you feel the next time you put poison out into the world.

2 Replies to “The Four Agreements, Self Judgement vs. Social Judgement”

  1. Absolutely raw. Something every mother relates to. The school yard stares. The feeling of being left out/judged/misinderstood/gossiped about…all this…every word. I respect your truth. I found your mother’s voice to be one off empowerment for others, not only in terms ‘getting over’ of gossip. hurt feelings, and social cliques, but more importantly, a way to understand it, work through it, and heal, and in the process, become the self. Stunningly clear writing that was resonant with truth. Great work here!

    Liked by 1 person

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