I was thinking recently about how much it can make you feel restricted in your actions and behaviour when you are so aware and conscious of being judged or viewed in a certain way.
As humans and creatures of habit, we naturally make assumptions when we meet people, are observing their behaviour or have a little insight into their life.
There has been a lot going on this year that has made us really aware of each others different viewpoints and actions. There have been some major divides, even between close friends and family. This can really affect our mental health overall.
Even the very recent media coverage about those entitled to free school meals, has sparked criticism and judgement of some on a low income and their actions.
It is assumed for example that if you can afford to be out enjoying yourself sometimes, purchase a bottle of wine for the weekend whilst shopping or have a mobile phone contract; that you perhaps don't really feel 'the pinch' of covering all the lunches and snacks during the school holidays.
I know myself, I can feel very conscious of being seen out enjoying something which would be considered as a 'luxury' by some, as a lone parent on a tight budget. Just feeling and sensing people's judgement and assumptions about my personal life or what I choose to spend my money on, can really affect mental health generally. I know many feel this way.
All too often, there is much more to the situation than meets the eye. If I'm lucky enough to be at a play centre with the children, out for a meal or enjoying a take away for example; it's frequently because a kind, generous friend or family member has actually insisted on treating me or the children (particularly over recent months). These treats really help to lift us sometimes, but the assumptions and glares of others can ultimately undo the overall benefits!
If you do feel judged, observed and criticised, you probably don't feel totally relaxed and are not fully being yourself. This stress can affect your health overall. You really have to try to block it out and effectively 'bubble yourself' from the thoughts and negativity of others.
It's an ongoing process to learn to not be bothered by the thoughts and judgement of others. It is very freeing when you do suddenly manage to stop caring so much about what people think. I would encourage you to try your best to hold your head up high. Keep being you. Ultimately you know you are doing nothing wrong and are entitled to live your life however you wish.
It can help overall if you work towards boosting your confidence and self esteem; so that you can handle these kind of situations and the perception of others more easily. Meditation and affirmations are a great way to start to do this, as well as becoming more active so that you feel good about yourself! It is also important to remember that those that really matter will never really judge you and will accept you exactly as you are.
If you are looking for some further guidance on how to handle the judgement of others, and are particularly in need of moral support as a lone parent, I have just set up a 'Gingerbread' lone parent group and a new Facebook group 'THE' Sudbury Mums; which also includes the option of mentoring for further support through the tough times. A good support network can make all the difference!