How to Stop Judging Your Own & Others’ Feelings to Have Better Relationships
Do you ever find that when the people in your life express emotions especially uncomfortable or painful ones you judge them?
Maybe you think they are “weak” or need to get “tougher skin.” Or perhaps, you notice that you don’t let yourself cry or feel sorry for things that happened especially in your past so you wonder why should they. Or you may notice that you get uncomfortable when people cry & you just want them to “suck it up.”
Do you ever feel like if the people in your life weren’t so emotional you could get some peace?
Their Emotions Aren’t the Real Problem
I understand all of these feelings but they indicate one core relationship problem which is: You are lacking self-love.
You may think right now “How does judging others’ emotions indicate a problem with me when it’s their problem?” so please allow me to explain.
Have you ever heard you can’t love another person until you love yourself? I remember resenting whenever I was told this in my 20s while I was deeply struggling with depression, trauma symptoms, & codependency. Of course, I knew people meant well when they said it. I knew they were hoping I would stop looking for approval & gain enough self-respect to finally stop settling for crumbs in my relationships. But what I heard back then was an invalidation of my love for the man that I was dating. I thought, “How can you tell me my love for him isn’t real or valid just because I hate myself?!”
But then, as I eventually cultivated self-love & self-respect, I finally understood the truth. It is completely possible to love another person if you don’t love yourself but the quality of the love you provide to another will only be able to match the love you have for yourself.
Your Emotions Aren’t a Problem
When you don’t fully love yourself, so much time is spent thinking about all the things that are “wrong” about you. It’s easy to focus on where you think you’re not enough or too much.
When you lack self-love, it’s common to judge, & criticize your thoughts, feelings, needs, wants, & actions. As a therapist for the last 11 years, I have learned that one of the most common things people judge & criticize is actually their own emotions.
It’s impossible to have such conditional acceptance of ourselves & magically provide an unconditionally loving & safe space for another human being. No matter how much we adore them.
Emotions are a key part of our humanity. We don’t choose them. They simply exist & act as information for us. When we judge something as fundamental to our humanity as emotions, it negatively impacts our relationships. When we judge our own emotions, it reduces our ability to fully love ourselves. When we judge others emotions, we lack empathy which reduces connection & increases conflict.
Therefore, the first step towards a healthier relationship with your partner (or anyone else in your life) is to work on being less critical of yourself.
Judging Your Own Emotions Doesn’t Comfort You
I recently noticed I was judging my own emotions. I couldn’t fall asleep due to feeling anxious. I was getting married the next day & was telling myself I “shouldn’t” be afraid since, in my bones, I knew this was the right step for me. Of course, telling myself I shouldn’t feel anxious didn’t comfort me – I was still wide awake…..& afraid. Then, I remembered self-validation which is simply expressing understanding for my emotion. I told myself “Of course you’re afraid. This is a big step in your life! However, courage is doing the important thing in the face of fear so you’re being courageous!” I felt so much relief from simply honoring & validating my emotion that I fell asleep shortly after. The wedding was magical by the way & I’m proud I have learned to be courageous.
How to Comfort Yourself & Your Emotions
I encourage you to start this simple practice for yourself of self-validation which simply looks like this:
- Notice when you’re judging your emotion “I shouldn’t feel this way,” “I should be over this,” or “I’m being stupid” etc.
- Take a deep breath
- Notice that given the situation & your life experience this emotion makes sense. It does make sense by the way. For example, it’s understandable you would be disappointed if someone cancels plans on you or angry if someone is running late.
- Tell yourself aloud or in your head “Of course I feel this way, it totally makes sense!” or “I understand why I feel this way”
- Repeat as needed
This process helps reduce your experience of self-judgment & criticism which helps you love & respect yourself more. It helps you be more accepting & understanding of your emotions which will allow you to provide more empathy to your partner (or anyone else in your life) when they are upset. Your ability to stay present & empathize with them rather than judging them & shutting them out has the profound ability to reduce conflict & increase connection.
I’m so excited for you to provide yourself & others more understanding & emotional acceptance. It’s so liberating!