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Issue #15: Defying the Fear of Judgement

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Chatting with a coaching client recently I asked him “Who do you want to be?”


The context of this question is as we come to explore what the guys want for their lives.


Who do they want to be: what kind of man do they wish to be?


What do they want for their lives?


And, ultimately, we are starting to look at what they value and what is important to them as we start to tap into what forms (or will form) the direction of their lives moving forward.


So, it comes to Eamon’s turn.


And he starts off well: “I want to be confident in my authentic self…”


Then he drops the bomb. The bomb that so many men drop or believe in some way.


He says “I want to be free from any judgement or criticism…”.


This simply cannot happen.


I told him – with some loving challenge:


“You’ll NEVER be free of judgement or criticism, Eamon. You are a human, you will experience judgement and criticism. Unless you go meekly into life and exist in isolation in an attempt to avoid these things.


Even then people might still judge and criticise you for those choices. At least.”


The work isn’t to be free of them or immune to them, it is to be able to be okay with them. 


To accept that they will happen. And to accept yourself regardless of them. Despite them.


To not place your sense of self on them. To not let them determine how you feel about yourself. Your identity. Your self-worth.


To pay attention to them, take note of them but not make them your story or reinforce your old stories.”


It might seem like a flippant, even understandable statement.


However, this is actually a significant thing to note, dive into and challenge.


It is also notable how his ‘Villain’ still has such a hold over his life.

On daddy-daughter time. Communication happens in many formats

‘The Fuck is his ‘Villain?’”


His ‘Villain’ is the simple way we summarise in ELA the part of him (all of us) that holds his deepest fears, insecurities, wounds and historical unmet needs into an identifiable being.


Our Villain is responsible for all of the self-preservation beliefs and behaviours whose sole work has been to try and keep us safe from previously unpleasant experiences from happening again.


He is run by fear and will run from it until we stop, deal with it and change the relationship to love on that little guy so that we integrate all of ourselves and ground ourselves in self-acceptance.


In this statement, we see that Eamon is letting his Villain’s fear of being judged and criticised (as not good enough or lovable) run his life and how he looks at what is possible for his future.


If I sum up the situation for most of the guys I talk to and work with, this would be it.


Not necessarily the exact content of Eamon’s share. Although that set of circumstances, beliefs and behaviours is extremely common.


But undoubtedly this context of their lives being run from the shadows by their Villain.


So much so that it prevents them from often even thinking about what they want for their lives because they don’t believe they deserve it.


Let alone having a depth of clarity on it to ensure that it is something based in love, purpose, meaning, and our deepest and strongest values.


Judgement will always be present and possible when humans are involved.


The work is never to be immune to judgement or criticism but to be so okay about it, so comfortable in your skin, that you can take any noteworthy feedback from them and then let the rest go without taking a hit to your self-esteem or sense of self.


For Eamon, he is well and truly in this work. It can be confronting to hear this feedback, to face our fears and insecurities head-on and see that “Oh shit, they have been driving this bus for so long!”


The work is not to kick them off the bus. It is to let them be in the back seat, relaxed, part of the full package. But not driving. Do not let them take the wheel as soon as someone says something mean or unkind about you.


The work is to take the wheel. Always. To reassure them that they – and you – are okay as you are. And that you get to be a work in progress.


To acknowledge that you are a human. A complex being full of experiences and soft edges and rarely visited depths. While sticks and stones may break your bones, names don’t get to hurt you.


Legit; names – judgement and criticism – don’t get to take the wheel of the bus and hurt your life. Nor does the possibility of them get to determine the direction of your journey and where you are going.


Because that is only ever looking in the rare-view mirror. It can never lead us towards a meaningful place.


No one ever got anywhere meaningful by being focused on their rare-view mirror and letting their insecurities have control of the bloody bus.


Some questions to take with you today:


  • What big fears and insecurities have been driving the bus for too long that you want to move to the back seat?
  • Where have you let fear of judgement or criticism have too much say in your life or how you live?
  • What are the parts of you that you want to drive the bus that is your life?
  • What does this ask of you?
  • Who do you want to be? Describe your favourite version of yourself. Present and future tense.
  • What do you want for your life?
  • How do you want to feel?
  • What do you want to embody?
  • What does all of this require of you – now? Consistently? In the future?


Get to work.


Because, if you are serious about wanting to “be your best” – and that kind of common reason men give for joining newsletters like this or investing in coaching courses and programs – then you’ll take these simple yet PROFOUND actions.


And if you find that you seem to not, like you just can’t sit down and do the things, or you try but can’t get the meaningful answers, I invite you to consider taking on support – adding skilled experts, team, and community to your team.