Q: I feel like my family is constantly judging me. What should I do?
EE: Well this one smacked me right in the empath…
I hear you, my friend.
Coming from years of experience as the ‘judged,’ there are some moves I can recommend.
Tell them to wind their necks in.
This strategy brings mixed results. They may think ‘Oh shit, we’re being judgier that Rinder on a mean streak, better pack it in before it does any more damage,’ which would be awesome, obviously.
You could also land yourself with a series of counter-arguments about what it is you’re doing/thinking/feeling/being that is so worthy of their condemnation. At this point you’ve lost and it’s back to the drawing board.
Stop doing/thinking/feeling/being whatever is getting up their noses.
Change your whole being to fit the mould they have decided is best for you, make strenuous efforts to please them and sacrifice your entire sense of self and all of your own goals in a fruitless attempt to somehow ‘win’ with these people.
I tried it for most of my life and can report that nothing good came from it.
Learn how to deal with it.
For clarification, this does not mean put up and shut up.
The thing you have to remember is that, even when they desperately want to, most people don’t change without serious dedication to making it happen. So the likelihood of people changing when they don’t want to is slimmer than the slimmest metaphor I can’t quite think up right now.
So that leaves you.
You can’t change how your family treat you, but you can change how you react to them. How you go about it depends on you and which relative it is that’s being a douche.
When it’s parents or another authority figure, the quickest way to shut them up is to agree. Bonus points if you can manufacture some gratitude at having been corrected. If your self-discipline isn’t quite there yet, try going silent and putting an apologetic expression on your face while maintaining eye contact (sad eyes are best). Even the rantiest parent will run out of steam when you aren’t fighting back.
If neither of these are plausible, store up an achievement they will approve of for an emergency distraction technique.
‘You are correct, parents, I am indeed a terrible person – by the way, did I tell you I got accepted into Yale/got promoted to manager/bossed my latest exam etc etc?’ Be sure to embellish your story in ways they will appreciate for long enough that the point they were initially making has become redundant, OR they are too impressed to moan about your other life choices.
Older brothers/sisters/cousins require a different approach. Just know that if judging you is one of their ‘things,’ the worst response you can give is the one they’re hoping for. Much like above, this requires minor advanced planning but instead of distracting them with something shiny, you’re aiming to blindside them; either by how little their opinion interests you or with a counter-attack (bonus points if you can illustrate the ways in which they themselves have done far worse/contributed exponentially/are talking out of their arse.
Other good responses: a well-timed smirk, exaggerated yawn, glance at the watch or simply standing up and wandering off as if they aren’t actually there. Basically, anything to infuriate them to the point of snapping while you remain blissfully unruffled. This has an added bonus. Depending on how wound up they are, you can deliver the killer final blow as nonchalantly as possible:
‘You seem incredibly, how shall I put it nicely… ‘passionate’ about this. Everything ok, hun?’
My sibling is a monumental ‘lady-garden,’ who has opinions on EVERYTHING and is never shy of sharing them. I cut them out of my life last year but prior to that, I had many years of honing counter-attack techniques.
Finally, if the judger is a younger sister/brother/cousin then they’re completely out of order attempting to mess with the established hierarchy and a simple slapdown back to their place in the pecking order should suffice.
You got this!