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January 27, 2020

How to Handle Judgmental or Negative Friends and Family


There’s a common saying, I wonder if you know it: “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.”

I don’t love it.

I understand what it’s trying to inspire—a motto for us to remember what we deserve and only keep people in our lives who can handle it when we show up not-so-perfectly.

But, I dunno, the thing that bothers me is … if we love this person, if they really mean that much to us, I feel like we should go out of our way to make them feel appreciated and considered, not dumped on and like they get the worst of us.

I’ve seen this many times in relationships. Because one person feels so comfortable and safe in the relationship, the other person ends up getting all their stress, all their anxiety, sometimes their misplaced anger and gets positioned as a figurative punching bag. While everyone else—the strangers and people they’re trying to impress—get the happy, easy-going, accommodating, supportive version.

Feels unfair and lopsided.

Shouldn’t we prioritize the experience of those closest to us over strangers?

I wonder if you agree. But the main point is … my boyfriend of almost 2 years saw me at my worst a few weeks ago. Lol.

I was super sick with a flu/cold thingy and we were on a little getaway, and I was doing all the gross, unattractive things you do when you’re sick: hacking up a lung, blowing my nose constantly, getting the chills and then sweating my ass off to the point that my hair and face were greasier than ever, spitting, GI issues, barely making it out of bed and generally being disgusting.

It happens. What else could I do. And luckily and not surprisingly, he took amazing care of me, no questions asked.

But afterwards, I turned to him and said, “Well, I think you’ve officially seen me at my worst now.”

We both laughed.

I was so grateful for the experience. And it got me to thinking: how many of us have people in our lives that we can fall apart with? That we trust to hold it down when we’re being our most base selves? That won’t judge us when we just want to play the victim or complain? That know we’re powerful and amazing but we’re just having a moment, and they won’t hold it against us?

Danny-J is certainly one of those people to me. My brother, Danny, too. My friends Karis and Jillian. Even my ex-husband Jade. And of course, my current partner, Keith. I’m lucky to have an incredible inner circle of people I can go to who can hold it down.

But based on the messages we get at ‘The Best Life’ podcast, we know that a lot of women do NOT have people in their lives they can be real with, feel safe with, not feel judged with.

And that sucks.

So today I want to give you a little insight into how I handle this.

A couple years ago, I called up a good friend of mine and divulged some shady shit I had done with a dude I was kind of seeing. Haha, ugh. Nothing illegal or anything, but look, this was back in my dating days and honestly, I’m not proud of everything I did, but it was what it had to be for that time in my life. I learned a lot and navigated being single for the first time since I was 18, and just did my best.

But when I told my friend, he got surprisingly judgmental: “Jill, I can’t believe you did that! NEVER do that again!” etc, etc.

You’d have thought it was a lot more serious than it was, and I was definitely taken aback.

This was a good friend of mine, but a somewhat new friend. And man, did I not expect that response! Besides, it wasn’t as if he’dbeen a standup guy at every turn, and I was always there with zero judgment and a safe space to hold when he needed to vent.

So after we talked, I hung up the phone, and sat on it for a while.

I didn’t like how it went down.

So I called him back and I said, “Hey, I really value our friendship and it’s because I value our friendship that I have to tell you … I felt pretty judged by you just now, and I didn’t expect that. I feel like I hold it down for you whenever you’re going through stuff, and I always listen without judgment and make you feel affirmed. So, to get that response from you felt really shitty. I’m not saying I’m right, it’s just how I feel. But I’m also letting you know that I just don’t have people like that in my life. So, I don’t know what that means for our friendship.”

I tried to clearly and honestly state how I felt and was willing to let the chips fall. If he couldn’t see it, and that was the level he was committed to operating on, then well, I was willing to let the friendship dissipate. That told me everything I needed to know.

BUT, he ended up being super apologetic and was able to see it from my point of view. He profusely apologized and reiterated to me how much our friendship meant to him, too.

This was an uncomfortable, scary conversation that could have ended with us going our separate ways.

But luckily, honest communication was able to save the friendship. And our communication has been better than ever since then.

Oftentimes, the relationships we have in our lives don’t feel safe. We don’t have judgment-free zones. We don’t have people who can remove their own biases, insecurities and sensitivities and just hold it down.

Maybe we have people in our lives who get defensive or make everything about them, when in actuality, we’re just looking to vent and talk to someone who can be objective.

This stuff is hard.

But I would say “being at your best” is showing up in the world as authentically and as communicative as possible, and then letting the chips fall.

Be the one who’s willing to lose something in order to be in their integrity or enforce a boundary.

There’s power in honesty. There’s power in openness. There’s power in taking radical responsibility for the relationships you maintain.

And if you have people in your life who don’t treat you with the respect and consideration you want, then that’s on you. People will always do what they do. So how will you show up differently?

You might be staring down an uncomfortable conversation that needs to happen. You might consider clearly stating and then enforcing a new boundary. You might consider ripping the Band-Aid off and being 100% who you truly are and letting people see who exactly they’re in a relationship with.

My ex-husband said once, “If we want people to love us for who we are, we have to have the courage to show them who we are.”

Be at your best. Be at your worst. But commit to emotional integrity. Commit to honest communication. Perhaps commit to uncomfortable conversations as a means to deepen a relationship, like I did with my friend.

I don’t have all the answers, but I can tell you: being honest, open and taking radical responsibility for everything in your life can feel scary, but at the end of the day, it’s the most liberating thing.

If you want more on relationships and communication, we’ve recorded some useful episodes at ‘The Best Life’ podcast:

  • Episode 4: Teaching People How to Treat You
  • Episode 26: Outgrowing the People Around Us
  • Episode 41: Dealing with Toxic Personalities
  • Episode 58: Authenticity for Yourself and Others
  • Episode 89: Curating Health Communication
  • Episode 124: Projecting our Insecurities and Experiences

Anyway, a little off-topic today but wanted to share some things that have been on my mind lately, and give you some resources if you are in a place where you want to dive further into self-development and communication with loved ones and people in your life.

Danny-J and I are recording new episodes for ‘The Best Life’ all week, and we’d love to hear what topics you’re interested in! Hit me up in my DMs and let me know!

Hope you have a great week!

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