Episode: 04



Recently, I posted on social media that this podcast was on hold. There were two reasons why I was going to stop producing these stories. The practical one was money, as I was short on it and I had trouble justifying the expense of hosting services. But, I have to admit, the real reason was fear, the one of being adversely judged by others.


In the few episodes I have produced, I have reacquainted myself with the fact that when you put your ideas out into the world, people are going to judge you for them —for what you say and for what you don’t say. It’s inevitable. While it is said that actions speak louder than words, words still have great power. In my experience they can draw people closer but can also create a rift.

It took some time to put aside those concerns and give this podcast another go. What I realised is that this project is a kind of medicine for me— it brings joy to my life and the process of making it helps me make a little bit more sense of the world I experience.

For today, I want to keep exploring the idea of judgement. So, I’m heading to River and Osborne where I want to ask people what it’s like for them when they are judged and how they deal with it. 

When I arrived, I watched a young woman panhandling for some time, she would walk up to someone, explain something for about ten seconds, and as soon as she was done speaking, they would shake their head no, and walk away. 

This pattern repeated itself for the duration that I observed her. I thought about talking to her but I didn’t have the courage to approach her before she left. But, after a long internal pep talk, I approached a few people. 


BR: I’m asking people today if they’ve ever experienced being judged by others and what that was like. 

W1: Yes. 

BR: So can you tell me a bit about that? 

W1: Well, a girlfriend and I had a big fight and, she started telling everybody exactly what I said, and I kept my mouth closed and we’ve only started talking like recently, and that’s been about two years. So I felt judged by the other people who never came up to me and said, you know, did you talk to so-and-so meanly? 

BR: So what was that like? 

W1: What did it feel like? 

BR: Yeah. 

W1: You know, it was a bit disheartening cause we all sat over at the picnic table there and I just didn’t sit there anymore, which means I made different friends. So, but now, now I do no problem. 

BR: Is it just human to judge other people? 

W1: I think so. 

BR: Yeah. 

W1: I think so. I think it’s like gossiping about other people. Um, because when you gossip, you’re just trying to make yourself feel better. 

BR: Is that right, that’s interesting, what do you mean by that? 

W1: Well, you know, if you sit around with gossipy people and they’re talking about so-and-so and how much they hate them and all that kind of stuff, you know, you’re just trying to make yourself feel good about being a person, feel better, like superior.

You know, I have a friend who, who can be, you know very judgmental and used all the old slangs and, I have told him that I don’t like it, but you know, I find by just not saying anything, he’s not going to have a reaction. 


W2: I was talking to a colleague this weekend. She was telling me a story about a friend who’s going through a lot with cancer with their family. And, just some of the decisions that they’re making right now as a family for how to, how to go forward because it looks like it’s terminal and they have young kids. And so, you know, they’ve got to Go Fund Me going and they are asking for support from the community.

And, I was just thinking, like how hard it is to understand the choices that families make in those situations. And how, you know, there doesn’t seem to be one right way to deal with those things, but, um, you know, you hope that people understand why you do what you do and that they support you, and don’t judge you in that. Because like, I think the husband has left his job to be with his family, and so they’re kind of relying on the kindness of strangers and friends.

And I just thought, well, that’s a tough spot to be in, but it’s also, it would be hard if you’re worried about people judging your decisions in that time. 

BR: Do you think people generally are accepting of how people live their lives and how they choose to live their life?

I don’t know. I mean, I think it’s easy to look at it and say, I would do that differently or to judge how people live. I mean, I think people do it very quickly, make decisions based on their own context and experience. So, I mean, I’d like to think that, you know, people are, you know, willing to let other people make their choices and live their lives. But I’m not, you know, it depends. It’s not always, sometimes you have to deal with judgment for the choices you make, and I don’t know. It’s a little bit of both. 


W3: It’s kind of a horrible feeling sometimes because you don’t know what they’re really thinking. 

BR: Right. 

W3: Cause like they’re always judging what you’re doing. They’re not happy with themselves, that’s why. 

BR: What do you mean by that? 

W3: Because, I find a lot of people, I don’t judge anyone, I don’t really care.

BR: Right. 


W3: I’m happy with myself to some degree, but not always, but if you’re happy with yourself, I don’t think you care about what other people are doing or not doing. I find that everybody has different ideas and we’re all different people, right? 

BR: Right.

W3: We all have to live here. 

BR: Right.

W3: So why can’t we be good, be good to each other. I treat people the way that I want them to treat me. How’s that? 

BR: That’s perfect. That’s a good way to live. 

W3: That’s the only way to do it. 

BR: Alright. Thank you very much for talking to me.

W3: No problem. Take care.

BR: Ok, see ya. 


W4: We actually had yesterday at work, I was wearing a top that maybe was too, showing too much flesh and because it’s winter, they thought it was not appropriate. So, but yeah I’ve had a few experiences of being misjudged. 

BR: So what, what’s that like? What does that feel like?

W4: It knocks my confidence, I guess. It kind of just makes you feel a bit embarrassed, I guess. 

BR: What would you recommend to someone to sort of, how to get past that? 

W4: I say you just be who you are. Accept how you act and obviously within reason, but I just think you shouldn’t let anyone else’s judgment worry you. You are who you are. You kind of express who you are, and you don’t let anyone impair that. 


W5: You’re judged everyday actually, so I don’t know what, I know what’s that like, but it’s just hard to put it in words. It’s like, you’re, the other person is just not putting in an effort to know you. But they’re, just, it’s easier to repeat whatever stereotype you have in your head, rather than putting in an effort and going ahead and talking to the other person. It’s just easier to judge than to know, right? People just don’t want to put it in an effort.

It’s just, yeah, if you talk to me for five minutes, you’ll know a little bit about me, but then,  do you have five minutes to talk to me? Nope. So, yeah, easier to judge. 


W6: Well, right now, I’m currently panhandling for a living, unfortunately. So every single day people just judge me,  just because I’m panhandling, and they just assume that I do drugs, which I don’t. I’ve been in lots of abusive relationships and I’ve had my own apartment and I’ve had my own job many different times. Not having enough work experience, people thinking like even when I’m going to get a job, they’ll just assume that, cause you didn’t have a job for a year or something that you know that you’re not reliable. But it’s basically just been me letting myself get taken advantage of by lots of people and stuff like that. 

I’ve kind of learned to just usually shut it out. I mean, there’s different, there’s good and bad judgment, right? And like those people who are just like, get a job, you know, it’s like I’ll pluck one off a tree. It’s, it’s not that easy, you know? Yeah. It doesn’t feel good most of the time, but yeah. 

BR: So even in, even in trying to get a job, you’ve experienced similar sort of things? 

W6: Yeah. Yeah.

BR: What kinds of things did people say to you? 

W6: What were you doing in between these two jobs? If they see a gap in your resume or whatever, and it’s…I’ve been, it’s like I was homeless so, or I was staying in an abuse shelter for a while. Like people, they just assume things, you know? Sometimes, I don’t know, a lot of people aren’t that open-minded, I guess.

I judge people too sometimes, but I try and do my best not to as much as I can, treat people equally. It’s just kind of something that pops up in your head sometimes, you know, you judge them by their looks, or the way that their body language or whatever. I ask every single person for change, even if I think this person isn’t going to give me change, for sure. Cause sometimes I’m surprised. There’s some good people out there. At least they’ll respond to you, you know?

BR: Does that happen a lot where people just ignore you? 

W6: Yeah, it does. Yeah. But I’m okay with that. I’m getting over it. There’s some nice people. 


W7: I had a very unfortunate life, and at one point in time I was turned out as a prostitute, so I’ve been judged for it ever since, even though I left that life way, way behind.

But yeah, as far as judgment goes, I’ve received the worst of the worst. 

BR: So what is that like? 

W7: It’s degrading. It’s humiliating. It just demoralizes you to the core. 

BR: Right. And how do you handle that? 

W7: Well, unfortunately it causes mental issues and you deal with them the best you can. And you run into little guys like my puppy here who are wonderful little therapy dogs. And the thing I found. As long as you find a reason to smile every day, whether it’s laughing at some stupid thing you see, or a bird, or taking a moment for a sunset, if you find a reason to smile everyday, you don’t end up in the ditch. 

BR: Right. Yeah. 

W7: That’s the biggest thing. As long as you find that reason, no matter how stupid it is, you got to find a happy each time, every day, even if it takes work to do so.

BR: Right. 

W7: Other than that, find a spot to go collect yourself. You got to take a break for you sometime.

BR: Right, yeah. Is it human nature to judge, do you think?

W7: I think it’s learned. I very much think it’s a learned behavior. We learn that certain things are acceptable and certain things aren’t, like what I’m out here doing today, I’m out here panhandling.

Most people assume I have an addiction problem or I’m a drunk, or, or, or, or. Where, in the meantime, I’ve spent too much money on my six month old puppy and I haven’t eaten in three days. And, I’m eatin’ my pride and looking to see if I could find some change and spend it and Safeway and go home and eat!

BR: Right.

W7: So it’s, you learn to be judged, you learn to deal with things.  

BYSTANDER: I don’t have much more but it’s what I can do to help.

W7: Your adorable. Thanks, sweetie. But yeah, no, I never come out here other than when I’m starving. I used to do this as a kid. 

BR: As a kid. 

W7: Yeah. When I was kicked out of my parents’ house, and the system. I used to run away and hide in the village here as a teenager.

So nowadays I deal with my mental issues and then do the best I can. I have PTSD. I also have DID, which is multiple personality, basically. Um, depression and anxiety. And, I have a lot of health problems, also. Subluxing joints, fibromyalgia, asthma, basic things like that. But you add it all together and it makes me unemployable and I’m a workaholic.

So you do the best you can and you find a reason to smile. And sometimes eatin’ your pride gets you what you have to have. Cause all you need someone to love, a roof over your head, food in your face, and a reason to smile. 

BR: Yeah. Those are good things to strive for. 

W7: Well you do your best, right? If you don’t succeed one day, there’s always tomorrow. And you gotta forgive yourself for when you fuck up. Start again the next day.

BR: Alright. Thank you for talking to me. 

W7: No problem. 

BR: I appreciate it. 

W7: Hopefully somebody out there hears it and understands and well, I’ve been to hell and back and I’m still here. I’m still smiling. Anybody else out there can make it too. Judgment, rips people to shreds, because everybody has to make a choice that they got to sleep with at night, the other person doesn’t have to make that choice. 

BR: I appreciate you talking to me today. 

W7: No problem.

BR: And for your honesty.

W7: I’m brutally honest. I learned lying, karma kicks you in the ass real hard, then you end up really rough. But you treat people good and you’d do the best you can. And, well you find happy people along the way that you can enlighten and have a good day.


BR: I recently read that we judge people to decide on a person’s morality, sociability and competence. Apparently, it happens within seconds of an encounter. 

At the core, I think judgement is something we do to feel safe and protected, even to survive. We judge who we want to run with and categorize people to determine who aligns with us and who doesn’t. To some degree, I think we eat based on whether others like us or not, so acceptance by others offers security. We rely on each other and to fit in in some way, somewhere, is to survive. Here is another comment from a man that I met. 


M1: I prefer to be observed. 

BR: What do you mean by that? 

M1: To be described instead of put in a category. I don’t know if that even makes sense. Judgment, I’m not a religious person in any sense of the word, but I think that Catholics have it right, that you’re judged at the end of your life. You should always have time to redeem. That makes a lot of sense. I think that’s a good lesson for anybody. Judgment seems like that it’s final. Observation, if you get that, it’s feedback, you can do something with it, if that makes sense. 

BR: Right. Yeah, that makes total sense. Is it just human nature to judge?

M1: I don’t know, maybe, but it doesn’t have to be like that. You can always soften your approach. 

BR: Soften it. In what way? How do you do that?

M1: It sounds trite, but empathy?


BR: The battery in the recorder died at that moment, but what about empathy? The ability to put ourselves in the shoes of another. His approach makes sense, but like one woman said, are we willing to take five minutes to get real with someone? Maybe it is easier to pass judgement and move on. 

I don’t know, but when I catch myself judging people negatively, what is revealed to me is my own insecurities. In reality, I’m saying more about myself than the person I am judging. It can be difficult to make peace with the overbearing internal protector that cuts off our will to communicate and therefore understand. 

It takes practice to stop repeating the fear responses that loop in the head. It feels risky to open up and take in differing views because it can shake up and challenge our core beliefs and upset or sense of comfort. 

A false sense of worth comes from judging someone negatively. In my experience it always backfires and creates anxiety more than anything. It can be difficult to challenge the automatic reflex but, I think that acknowledgement of the behaviour is the first step in turning the habit around.

Maybe envisioning ourselves in the place of someone else regularly, would produce a fresh mindset and develop new safe places around us. It would be worth testing out. 

While I worry about being judged for the things I say on this podcast, what I’m really doing is fearing possible outcomes, fearing things that may or may not happen, things that I have absolutely no control over. These concerns affected me greatly last summer but are now mostly managed. 

With this project and with life in general, my core hope is that I speak and act out of love and respect for people. If I can manage to do that, it will be a success in my mind.

So, here I am giving this podcast another go. I’m not sure how often episodes will appear but with any luck, the fear of being judged won’t be in the driver’s seat this time. 

Special thanks go out to all the people who took the time to talk to me. Thanks for listening, I hope your day is good. 

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