We see a snapshot of someone at a given time. We can't possibly know or judge everything about them from that one fleeting moment.
I completely agree and this is how I approach it.
I'm an ugly runner. I'm slow. I'm loud. I wheeze. I'm certainly not athletic in my appearance. But I've upped my running lately despite all of this and I wonder: what must people think when they see me abusing a treadmill at the gym? I certainly don't look like a woman who has maintained a 75lb weight loss for 9 years through major life events, pregnancy, etc...? Could they do something like that? Do they know what a challenge that is in and of itself?
Probably not. They probably see a goofy looking woman with a red face who has a bad knee and can't run an uninterrupted mile. So yes, "what don't I know" is the first question I ask myself.
This is such an interesting thread. To the OP, I think you're courageous to be so honest about your feelings. Toward the end of your post, though, you seemed to suggest that you didn't think you would be able to do anything about those feelings, and I disagree. I may be in the minority here in thinking that "I can't help the way I feel" (generic comment, not implying you stated that) is a cop-out of sorts. I believe we can help the way we feel if we really want to change our heart condition. Saef offered one good way, i.e., making a conscious effort to view people on a real, human level. Some time ago, I decided that I needed to work on my character, and one aspect of that was becoming less judgmental. I had started reading the Bible, and I realized Jesus loves me with all my faults, and I wanted to try to view others as He views us. (Not trying to preach here; just sharing my experience). Now, when I have negative thoughts about something and I'm ashamed of those thoughts, I will purposely try to change my reaction---fake it 'til it becomes a habit of sorts. From habit it changes to real feeling, and I find that I'm becoming a more empathetic person. Of course, I fail time and time again, but I won't give up, and I do see improvement.
OP, I'm definitely not trying to be self-righteous. I'm just trying to offer you some hope that you can change if you want to.
My experience is somewhat different from yours, Neurodoc.
I am far harder on myself than I am on anyone else I see. I am like a mean girl in a black comedy when I face myself in the gym mirrors after having a weigh-in that reports a five-pound gain. But when I see other people in the gym, I think, "That was me once. Good for her." Maybe the difference is, I was them once, I'm not just an observer. I was once 257 pounds. I spent over a decade climbing to that weight gradually year after year. And I didn't lose it overnight. When I first made my effort to lose that weight, I was afraid to set foot in a gym. I walked around outside in all kinds of weather, in dark, in sometimes unsafe circumstances, because I was more afraid of being judged adversely than my physical safety. Which is stupid. So those people are **better** than me, if anything. Braver, psychologically stronger. See, this I know: There are some heavier women who have greater peace of mind and self-acceptance than I may ever achieve. Despite my weight loss, which -- so society tells me -- ought to have left me more self-confident and in a better place. No, it didn't. Like that Sheryl Crow song, "If it makes you happy, then why the he!! are you so sad?"
When I see fat people, my mind goes to what I want to call my "writerly" place, where my empathic faculties reside. I tell myself a story about them. "She's coping with late or nonexistent child support payments ... she's got a mother who needs her car keys taken away ... and an autistic child ... maybe she comforts herself with a trip to McDonald's ... she owes back taxes ... she's got thyroid issues ... she's the kindest person you've ever met ... she adores her three cats, one of which needs insulin shots ... She was, until last week, afraid to leave her car at her son's soccer game because she felt she was too fat to be seen ..." I have an endless supply of stories, some from my own experience, some from the boards here. I imagine these people are the exact same people who are posting on the boards here. And I care a lot for the people posting on the boards here. Not just for individuals, but in the abstract. Poor humanity, and all the pain we all carry inside us.
I wouldn't want to lose an eye. The job is negotiable. I like my job, and it's part of my identity, but it's not my whole identity. If I lost it, I'd have to change the way I live, and spend money, and my pride would hurt horribly, but I think I could get by. I have survived through some boring and tedious jobs, like filing medical records in the basement of a hospital all day long, pushing a shopping cart full of them around. I would piece together some kind of life somehow.
To OP...I weigh 270 pounds after a 40 pound loss...trust me, people as fat as me don't even need you to say anything to know what you are thinking. The constant air of judgement permeates our physical environment and eventually our psyches. People don't get this fat because they don't understand simple thermodynamics...they get this fat because the culture is toxic. For years I avoided being seen, it's pretty hard to lose weight and foster healthy eating without being seen.
Judgement is an adaptive trait, I get that. However there is a difference between noticing peoples physical attributes and assuming to understand why they possess said attributes. When you see someone is a wheelchair, do you feel sympathy for them or do you assume they were driving drunk?
We all struggle with maintaining a compassionate mind I think, and what better way to promote that then encouraging just such a discussion as you have! Thanks for posting!
Last night, I spent 20 minutes writing a carefully thought-out, lengthy post and then lost it when I accidentally hit the back arrow on my browser. I was so mad that I couldn't face re-doing it. Now, I no longer remember a lot of what I wrote.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond. Whether you appreciated my honesty, admitted that you do it too, were justifiably upset that I could be judgemental when I've "been there and done that," or tried to answer my question with suggestions of how to overcome the negative thinking, I want you to know that the dialogue is important to me. And, lin43, I DO believe it's possible to change; I just don't know how to do it, which is why I asked the question to begin with. I'm learning from all of you that the trick to staying empathetic rather than either condescending or disgusted is to mentally create the "backstory" of each person's individual struggle as much as possible. And to give them credit FOR the struggle, even if you don't think there is one (e.g., the shopping cart full of junk food). I also appreciate the person who basically encouraged me to "fake it til I make it" - to act as though I'm completely nonjudgemental, because if I do that often enough, I will gradually become more that way.
In my professional life as a physician, I often need to tell someone that their lifestyle puts them at risk for strokes (often in the setting of the person already having had one or more strokes) and that if they want to prevent further damage, they must learn to eat differently and move more regularly and more vigorously. When I'm in "doctor mode," I seem to be naturally more attuned to the challenges these patients face in order to do what I've asked, and don't think those catty thoughts nearly as often. I would try to engage that mindset more often, but it seems to go hand in hand with a need to give advice, which I clearly am not going to do to strangers who are not asking me for it.
You don't drown in the river by falling in, but by failing to get back up.
Oh my, I think I would grow so frustrated with people if I were a physician and had to repeatedly remind them their lifestyle is killing them, sometimes, I assume, to no positive effect...although I hope many more people do become motivated to change! I've actually never had a physician who had the chutzpah to bring up my bulk. I commend those who do! I wonder how the trajectory of my life might have been different if my pediatrician ever suggested to my mom that it's not healthy or OK for a 5th grader to weigh 180lbs! It's hard to say I guess.
I really like the back story and "fake it to make it" ideas too. Good practices for anybody to employ!
I'm here to say, you're not just paranoid. It's not just in your head. People really are that shallow, myself included, and make comparisons and pass judgement all the time. I'm not proud of it, it's not something I do on purpose, and whenever I have one of my "oh god she's fat" thoughts, I quickly tell myself off mentally for having passed judgement. BUT I DO IT ANYWAY. ALL THE F*CKING TIME. Today, heaven help me, I actually almost said something to a pair of overweight girls in the locker room of my gym, aged maybe 10-11, who were wearing bathing suits and eating ice cream sandwiches (I considered "should you be eating that in here?" instead of my initial gut reaction of "you so don't need those calories; why don't you throw them away?" but thankfully decided neither of these would be appropriate).
I'm expressing all of this because I've really been struggling with these feelings the last couple of months. I'm not proud of it but I also don't see a way to stop thinking like that. What do you do? If you've found ways to think less judgmentally, please share.
Everybody judges. It happens to all of us even when we are actively trying to be positive. Since you specifically said you can't see any way to stop the pattern and that you are looking for ways that work; I figure you are really looking for that kind of feedback and not a pat on the back or an attack for feeling what you are feeling.
So...you have become aware of the negativity, instead of "mentally telling yourself off" and continuing the negative thought pattern, here's something more productive you could try. If the person is still in your path compliment them on something, anything. You sent a negative vibe in her direction and projected your negative thoughts onto her; so try to think of a positive to help balance it out. Compliment her shoes, her hair, the color of her shirt, her eyes, etc. Change the negative vibe as quickly as possible, instead of continuing it by beating yourself up for having the thought. Kindness. Pass it on. If the person is gone before you realized the judging behavior, you can still change it if you practice random acts of kindness.
The goal is to lift people up, not bring them down...especially if we are talking about overweight people who are at the gym trying to improve their life. If you have to; think about butterflies, rainbows, unicorns and pixie dust. Sing a song that makes you want to smile or dance. Whatever it takes. As long as you keep thinking negatively, you perpetuate the cycle of negativity and you get it given back to you in terms of kharma or the Golden rule or you reap what you sow.
This discussion has been "renting space" in my head ever since I read the first post!! I've been thinking a lot about it and my own role in judging people.
Unlike many people here that were "just" overweight, I was hugely morbidly obese. So my experience in being judged was pretty much a daily experience.
Now that I am thin, I find a couple of things - when I see very large people, I sometimes want to run over to them and tell them that they CAN change, that their lives can be different - I want to "save" them.
However, I find myself EXTREMELY judgmental when it comes to 2 things - people that are SLOVENLY and obese. If they are unwashed or dress completely inappropriately for their body I tend to get judgmental. I have always taken pride in my appearance, even at my highest weight. Secondly, I tend to be extremely judgmental about people who make excuses for their behaviors - for example saying that they don't have time and "have to" eat fast food.
These are not things that I'm proud of, they are things that I process and re-process. But, I will say this - and this is going to tick some people off - there is no LAW saying that just because I was fat once, I have to be compassionate and caring with people who are now fat. I have the "right" to judge people if I want to. Who says that I have to be that "bigger" (no pun intended) person? There is nothing inherently wrong in judging someone else, IMO. If it's something that you want to change, then it is an issue that you can work on, but who says that we have to be nice to everyone in the world?
Finally, it is interesting that now that I am thin, I am STILL judged. Just the other day I was in a meeting and the room was FREEZING. I was all huddled up and rubbing my arms and my boss said - in a voice dripping with sarcasm - "Well, maybe if you had more then 3% body fat you wouldn't be so cold all the time!" And I later overheard him tell someone that I am "obsessed" with running and that's not healthy. So you can't win...
"I'm through accepting limits, cause someone says they're so. Some things I cannot change but 'til I try I'll never know!" ~ Wicked ~
"Have you ever looked fear in the face and said 'I just don't care!'" ~ Pink ~
ChrisMohr, those are great observations and I think those fears are present in many folks, me included. Me especially! Years later I project these fears through judging others. I don't have much to add now- there's so much to consider in this thread, but I appreciated your thoughts.
I'm a judging type too. As several of us have noted, we are much harder on ourselves than we are on others. Once, Karen and I noticed that our conversations often degenerated into judge-fests of even our dearest friends. I inquired into the source of that judgment and first felt a wave of grief. Then I realized that I was holding certain unconscious beliefs:
1) If I ever relax and let myself just be myself, I will gain weight, do no work, accomplish nothing in my life, and generally just allow the rotten person I am give full expression.
2) Whenever I judge someone else, I am at least ten times as guilty as they are of the same thing, at least potentially.
3) Judgment of others is a way of transforming my own grief, and my own fears.
4.) The only motivator I know is self-judgment: fear of being consumed by self-loathing motivates me to do the things that keep those awful feelings at bay.
Feeling grief and self-hatred and lack of confidence/self-trust is not easy but it has helped ease judgments. Judgments do arise still, but the work I have done on myself has made that process more transparent. Since I am less than a year into my own maintenance and I gained ten pounds over the winter, it's too early for me to be very judgmental of others who are overweight. What I feel now is simple fear that soon I will be the same as them! So for the time being, my insecurity is so right out there, I can't use the tactic of judgment much to protect myself from that fear. If I have a couple years of success on maintenance I will certainly watch that tho!
In the meantime, I still compare my body to those of others, especially other men, almost constantly. It's almost like I'm placing myself somewhere on a slimness/fitness hierarchy that measures my worth.
Phenomenal discussion! I've been working very hard for about a year and a half to silence my negative inner dialog, primarily directed at myself but often at others. I decided I needed to change it because it wasn't adding any value to my life and I wanted that brainspace back. It's a gradual process and I am by no definition an expert. Chris's experience with fear mirrors my own - the root of my negativity sprouted from fears, which in my case, have to do with "living up to my potential." Mostly, my technique is to stop the thought, ask myself "Where's your evidence?" and if there isn't any, to move on.
The fact is, most of us on this thread would rather lose an eye or a job than regain the weight we've worked so hard to lose (and keep off). If being fat didn't disgust us, we wouldn't have been motivated to lose our weight to begin with. We spend our days working hard to prevent regain, and live in fear of the scale (or our skinny jeans) telling us that we've gained even a few pounds. So, how hypocritical would it be if we DIDN'T feel disgust (or pity) at others who are overweight? Pass judgement when others can't manage what we have? Feel real fear when we see someone who's the shape we used to be, knowing how easy it would be to return there?
Well, I'm here waving from the other side of the abyss. I did regain most of my weight loss and am now struggling to get it back. I do not believe that I regained the weight because I didn't care that much. I regained because I never really solved some of my underlying issues and so when I hit a period of extreme stress, after holding it together for more than two years, I ended up reverting back to the behaviors that made me fat in the first place.
And I can tell you right now that I would absolutely NOT rather lose an eye or my job than be fat. I don't like being fat much, but one thing that being normal-sized taught me was to like myself. YUP. I find it very difficult to muster the kind of self-hatred that actually drove me to lose the weight in the first place.
I'm working on losing the weight again, but I don't hate myself anymore. I look at my own fattest pictures with compassion and that allows me to look at everyone else with compassion as well.
Furthermore, I can be fat and do my job. I can be fat and get all dressed up and stand in front of a room and give inspirational speeches and people will line up afterwards to get my signature and all this while I AM STILL FAT. It's kind of like Dorothy and the ruby slippers. I had the power all along: the power to believe that I am good enough the way I am. I did not need to lose 110 lbs to turn into the person I want to be. I already am that person, and even if you look at me funny at the gym, quite frankly, I probably won't notice.
But, I was not born like this. I'm over 50 and I think I wasted a lot of my life judging myself way too hard, and then being hard on others because I thought they were looking at me the way I was looking at them-- judgmentally.
Your awareness that you are doing this and not liking it about yourself is a sure sign that you are not a bad person or evil or cruel or judgmental, but I might guess that you are not able to look at your own fat pictures with compassion and equanimity.
Being fat is unpleasant for many reasons, but bad enough to lose a beloved job or an eye? Absolutely not.
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.--Winston Churchill
I've been thinking and processing this discussion. neurodoc - Kudos to you for starting it! If we can't discuss things like this on 3FC, where can we discuss them?
I will often catch myself having a judgmental thought about someone - weight related or not - and refer to myself as "Judgy McJudgerson." That sort of brings my thought process to the surface and allows me to recognize what I'm doing, which is the first step to stopping - which I, like others in this thread, am trying to do.
But yes, I judge. I think some of mine might be fear, as Chris said, but also a huge part of it is jealousy. I'm jealous of people who don't (seem to) care about the cookie they're eating, or if their bra shows some back fat, or if they worked out that day or - whatever. Now, I'm fully aware this RIDICULOUS. I was overweight/obese my whole life, and I definitely didn't enjoy it, but I obviously miss that place of ignorance. I'm not even sure if that makes sense. In any case, I'm aware that my judging is much more about my unresolved issues than about that person I'm judging.
The only time I get truly aggravated and judgmental is when it's people close to me (family and good friends) whine and complain about their weight/fitness while eating an entire pizza followed by a gigantic ice cream sundae (or whatever). If you're going to eat, eat and enjoy it. But don't complain that you "can't lose weight" when you have the information you need to get started, but have made a choice not to.
Such an interesting discussion! And usually I get really ticked/offended with the people who disagree w me on this sort of thing, but now I realize that it's probably just that I'm ticked that I'm the ONLY one with my views and feel like the world is a terrible place. But here it looks like the "sides" are more evenly matched. It makes me feel less judgmental.
Anyway, I think I see this very much like the poster who said that she invents stories for people to explain things that one might otherwise be judgmental about. I know from my own life and from my work with prisoners that people don't do anything in a vacuum. We are all a product of our experiences and our environment and the people that have effected us. Nobody just one day decides they are going to be fat (or stay fat). It is a painful and difficult life to lead, as we all know. And I don't believe that there's a person out there who, if they had the confidence and the self-love and the know how and support from their loved ones would not be taking care of themselves. (I do think, though, that there is more than one way to take care of oneself and becoming "normal weighted" is not the only way.)
One thing I have noticed about this topic (and there is a similar topic going on now on a low carb forum and I see the same there) is that, the people who were never *really big* tend to be more judgmental. I think it is harder for those of us who have really felt the judgment and even remained fat and overeating and not doing whatever it is that you judgmental folks think we should be doing while feeling that judgement, to be that way towards others.
And one thing I just wanted to mention, OP, because you're a doctor, I do think you really have a duty to change this about yourself. I know that you said things are different with your patients, but I cannot help but believe that some of it gets through. If you weren't a doctor, I would say you don't owe it to anyone to change, you are who you are. But you've put yourself out there in a position where it just is not okay to lack compassion in this area. As a fat type I diabetic, I have actually felt like I had fairly good luck with doctors regarding my weight, in terms of how respectful and understanding they've been. I never *felt* discriminated against. But now I am kind of realizing that my endo who I saw for about ten years just severely underestimated me. I don't think his pushing would have helped bc I didn't know how to lose weight and he didn't know how to help me lose weight. But I'll tell you that once I figured it out (I have tried every diet known to man, and it wasn't until I stumbled upon 85% fat that I suddenly and shockingly started losing) it became clear to me that he just thought I was a lazy fat person who wasn't willing to put in the work.
type I diabetic and mama to ds1 (9/14/03) and ds2 (2/11/09)
sometimes vlc, sometimes pure carnivore, always once-a-day feeding
I find it really interesting that this thread ( http://www.3fatchicks.com/forum/body...ight-loss-219/ ) is going on at the same time and there seems to be a pretty strong consensus that it is the fat person's fault that they are fat. If it is the fault of the fat person, then I'm not sure why we shouldn't be judgmental. Seems sort of like the flip side of the same question.
type I diabetic and mama to ds1 (9/14/03) and ds2 (2/11/09)
sometimes vlc, sometimes pure carnivore, always once-a-day feeding