How to Care Less

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“I was always looking outside myself for strength and confidence, but it was within. It is there all the time.”

(Anna Freud)


Have you ever made a decision that wasn’t in your best interests, out of fear of being judged by others? Most of us have. It comes up in counseling quite often. As we explore further, it becomes fairly evident that the idea that others are not qualified to judge us is hard to accept. It feels palpable at times.

That makes a lot of sense. Think about how we learn what’s expected of us socially to begin with. Take yourself back to kindergarten for a moment. The social norms of your household - ways of being that just feel like “what is” because they have always been with us - mash up in a traffic jam with as many “cars” in it as there are human beings in the room.

You do something you’ve always done, only to find some other tiny person looking at you in horror because it’s not the way they do things. You’re 5. Your little brains can only hold “different” as “wrong,” because something is not conforming to the expected pattern that has kept you alive up to this point.

If a teacher or other adult confirms the perception of the other child, many 5-year-olds will experience shame - a deep seated sense that they are wrong, instead of holding the simple data that people do things differently.


These patterns keep us alive, as I noted in the blog, People Are Not Mushrooms. A pattern that’s kept us alive on any level will be much more tenacious to shake. Our fundamental fears and insecurities will tap into this old shame pattern and try to convince us that random people who judge us might just be right, so we had better conform.

Telling people not to listen to the people outside of our heads that affirm what the scared kids inside our heads believe about us is a lot like telling a kid in school to “ignore the bully.” It would be lovely to ignore the bully, or the judgmental person, but as long as our bodies register threat? That ain’t happening.

In order to care less about the judgment of the people outside of our heads, we are going to need to put our bodies in neutral (to fully engage the thinking part of our brains,) and then directly address cognitive fallacies.

Thank You, Jillian Michaels

For those unfamiliar, Jillian Michaels was once a trainer on the show, The Biggest Loser. She is well known for screaming fat phobic blather at her trainees, for going after the musician Lizzo with a diatribe filled with presumption, misinformation and arrogance, and, for doubling down on that very diatribe when called out. I was listening to Aubrey Gordon’s take on Ms. Michaels in Gordon’s book What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Fat just this morning. My initial thoughts were… ungracious… to say the least. Jilian Michaels has harmed an awful lot of people with her misguided shame fests. I struggle to be gracious toward those who recklessly harm others.

When I catch myself being judgmental about judgmental people, I take a note from my Indigenous ancestors and seek to overwhelm the destructive space with something constructive, leaving the destructive thing irrelevant. I send the person love and healing in my mind.

I do this first for myself, in order to rebalance and refuse to let someone have power over me. Secondly, I do this because I truly believe that all people are sacred. As I often say, “When we don't know who we are, we act like someone else.” The offender appears to be out of touch with who they are as a sacred being among other sacred beings.

The Revelation

So I sent love and healing to Jilian Michaels. I’m not pretending to know her mind, but I do know that we humanfolk most often harshly judge people who are saying and doing things we don’t have internal permission to say and do.

Michaels is clearly convinced that bodies can only be healthy if they look a certain way, in spite of the evidence that our body size has zero correlation with actual measures of health like blood pressure, resting heart rate, endurance and so forth. (Furthermore, all of the contestants on the Biggest Loser show either gained weight, or stopped losing, aside from one, once taping was finished.  The majority of the participants experienced damage to their metabolic systems, significantly challenging their future ability to lose or maintain weight.), It would appear Michael’s acceptance of other’s bodies is fiercely conditional. It is a fair guess that she is at least that conditionally accepting of her own body.

A “You” Problem

When the people outside of our heads collude with the fearful children inside our heads, the judgment coming at us does not belong to us. They are judging themselves and are projecting their fears onto us.

Let’s reorder our thinking:

  • Recognize that the external opinion is invalid. (There is not a living soul outside of your body that has enough data to know what you should or should not do in any circumstance.)
  • Recognize the inner voice that wants to agree with the judge. (Isn’t that fear speaking? Calm the fear and look at the actual data you do have.)
  • Recognize the projected insecurity of the other person. (Ask and answer: Why is this person so invested in having an opinion without proper data? How could that be an expression of anything but their own fears?)
  • Send love, healing and even celebration to the accuser within, and without. (Judgment and shame divide us. Generosity and grace make room for all.)
  • Make choices with integrity, with grace, and without apology.

Don’t we have enough to carry on our own, without taking on other people’s unhealed stuff?


Sometimes moving something from a nice idea to a life change takes support from others. Let me know if I might be that person! Contact me today. Let’s talk.