Living each day much muchier

Ditching the badge of honour


Cartoon by Michael Leunig

Have you ever looked at someone and felt irked, even though they were minding their own business?

Look at those fit girls with their tans, topknots and Lorna Jane lycra. They must spend so much of their time and energy on how they look.
Do those people think I want to listen to their loud, vacuous conversation?
Why are you stopping right in front of me? Wake up guys, c’mon.

Judgemental thoughts, I have them and then I’m horrified at myself for having them, but they’re there and I bet you have them too.  Maybe not those ones, but others like them.

People are going about their day, but you’re hyper conscious of their existence and it annoys you. You might even start compensating for that by getting louder around them or perhaps fading away.

We project a story onto other people because we are telling a story about ourselves. How well or poorly do they compete in the categories on which we judge ourselves? They irk us because they’re better at it or sometimes because they don’t seem to care at all and that invalidates our own effort.

It’s like we’ve got an inner Idol or I’ve Got Talent panel of judges who sit in oversized, rotating chairs inside our heads. There’s a mean judge, a kind judge and a joker judge who cast their vote accordingly.

They way we judge others and ourselves is tightly bound together.

When someone irks me, I’ve started asking myself what badge of honour I’m trying to wear. If their poor choice annoys me, am I wearing my ‘I’m wise and insightful’ badge?  If their beauty annoys me, am I telling myself that I’m not pretty enough? If their oblivious wandering annoys me, am I wearing my ‘I’m awake and aware’ badge? If their popularity annoys me, am I telling myself that I’m unseen?  

If I was comfortably myself, it wouldn’t even register whether other people lived up to my standards. I don’t assign intelligence to people based on their career. I don’t assume happiness when people are single, married or in relationships. I love watching other people dance gracefully and playfully. None of these things are badges of honour and I have no need to judge.

The more harshly we judge ourselves, the more we imagine other people are judging us and we judge them back reflexively. A heightened sense of self consciousness around people is actually a flag that you have a problem with yourself and that you’ve carried it with you, probably for a long time.  I’m not talking about introversion or even social anxiety. I mean the specific, judgemental annoyances that ruin our peace and capacity to enjoy the moment. The more judgemental we are, the unhappier with are with our ability to live up to own badges.

There are common badges that we latch onto and perpetuate. The ‘I’m healthy’ badge, the ‘I’m busy and important’ badge, the ‘I’m desirable’ badge, and the ‘my life is awesome all the time’ badge.  There are also misfit badges, like the ‘I think for myself’ badge or the ‘mysterious’ badge.  All of these things are perfectly fine ways to be. They become badges when we’re afraid they’re not really true and we’re suddenly vulnerable to invalidation by other people. We judge them in first strike self defense.

If I understand how I judge myself, maybe I can relax and let the pent-up thoughts about other people go.  In the same way, if I can become aware of the thoughts I have when I morph into Judgey McJudgeface, maybe I get a sneaky insights into how I’m blocking my own peace and attacking my own self esteem.

Maybe, when I see that fit girl with her butterscotch tan and sleek lycra, I can let go of my judgement. She makes her choices, which are different and unrelated to mine. We can both go our own way in peace.

“No one has it all figured out, especially not the people who are acting like they do.”
Tucker Max



One comment on “Ditching the badge of honour

  1. Jai Normosone
    August 13, 2016


    You have managed to put something into a context that I had never discovered or thought about before. You’ve touched on some interesting things there that make me wonder if you have been doing some extensive reading or are maybe doubling-down on working out things that are happening inside your head.

    One of my ‘badges’ is the whole junior-psychologist crap that everyone else thinks they can solve your issues with their own platitudes — but I have already done the junior-psych thing to death on myself. There are things that go on inside that episode of Star Wars (big empty expanse) that just annoy the crap out of me and I doubt that anyone can explain, so I guess they just need to be lived with.

    In my opinion, the introspective view is a good thing to have because I think it allows you to pull yourself up when about to judge others – along the lines of “do unto others….” but that becomes a badge in itself when you see people out there who are seemingly completely oblivious to everything (especially when driving). One thing I will point out to those who are parents and how great they think they are at teaching manners and courtesy to children when they are seemingly incapable of leading-by-example with those traits themselves.

    This post is definitely worth a second, third and fourth read but I will also suggest that one doesn’t become too introspective and willing to write off the behaviour of others (due to whatever feeling that is trying to be overcome) as there is potential to develop a lot of guilt and grief from it. Perfect example is the bloke in Europe who (since the influx of illegal immigrants) was pack raped (by males) and he felt extreme guilt for having reported the males (NOT men) to the authorities and they were deported.

    Too much guilt on your mind is probably worse than judgmentalism – especially when that guilt is indoctrinated into you from a young age.

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This entry was posted on August 11, 2016 by in Self awareness, Self worth and tagged , , , , , , , , .
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Department of Words

Department of Words

Thinker. Writer. Photographer. Dancer. Not necessarily in that order.

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