I recently read an excerpt from Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body published by Utne. The author, Courtney E. Martin, asks, “I would never say anything rude to a fat man or woman about his or her weight, but would I think it?” And she goes on to discuss her internal monologue where she comments on everyone. She further notices that her internal comments are mainly negative and suspicious, but that they often don’t immediately seem that way. When we stereotype someone with our comments, that is equally awful. For example, “How cheerful, she (that black girl) dresses like she’s still in Africa.” What am I implying?
I am going to try to be nicer to myself and to consciously stop the automatic internal comments on other people. Then, I will find something positive to comment on. Maybe I’ll compliment that person, maybe I’ll just adjust my own thinking. Goal: To avoid stereotypes and sounding patronizing.
I think I’ve been trying to be less judgmental for a long time and that it is part of what led to my divorce. I rejected the “us against them” attitude that had infused our relationship, especially our marriage. As I once explained to him, “I don’t think the universe is out to get you. I think shit happens and you just happened to be in its path today. There’s no ‘fair’ share.” This allowed me to stop blaming myself, others and the world for any and everything that didn’t work out exactly as I planned. And that allowed me to accept that I really couldn’t control everything. And THAT allowed me to stop trying, lowered my stress levels, improved my health and made me generally more fun to be around. My work is to remember and re-remember that as needed.