who is judging whom


In our previous article “Behind the Façade,” we discussed how people often hide their authentic self. This article will further investigate those who changed their façade based on their judgment of other people’s judgment of themselves.


When people become focused on how they believe others are judging them, they give away their personal power. Often the other person doesn’t even know that they have been given this power because they aren’t actually judging the person and may not have even noticed them.




When someone tells me that someone else is judging them, I typically ask a few questions. My first response generally is, “Why do you care?” In some cases, the answer to this question is obvious. However, in the case of a stranger or acquaintance who is not closely connected to the person, the answer is less clear.


Another question I ask is, “What made you jump to the conclusion that they are judging you?” The answer to this question is rarely satisfactory to me. It is something they perceive, but is often not tangible.


Who Is Doing The Judging?


In reality, if the other person has not directly stated a judgment, these people are judging the other person. However, I don’t believe most are aware of their own judgment.   It is in some ways a self-judgment and in other ways a judgment of the other person. It is possible that they believe they should look or act a certain way, but instead of owning it, they project it onto someone else. Alternately, they are judging the other person as someone who believes others should look and act a certain way.


For these people that see themselves through the eyes of others, I have to wonder how their life would change if they stopped projecting their judgment onto others.  It would clearly change. We must stay somewhat within cultural norms. Yet, at some point we need to be our true selves and not define our value on how we believe others perceive us.


So, when you start to believe that others are judging you then question yourself, “Are they really judging me, or am I judging them?”


behind the facade



As a child, my mother insisted that we keep the drapes closed at all times. I assume she was worried about protecting the family since she was a single working mother. My dad had died just after my sixth birthday. Therefore, I don’t really remember if she had a similar concern when he was alive.


All I know is that she never wanted anyone to see into the house. This became readily apparent one beautiful day when I dared to open the living room drapes. I was severely reprimanded as soon as my mom arrived home.


Of course, she also never wanted to be seen by anyone when she wasn’t looking her best. I assumed it was partially because she wanted to be attractive to men. Thus, she was always looking her best when she went anywhere.


Others Are Judging


Later, I realized that these behaviors were tied, in part, to her belief that she knew how others were judging her. Thus, she felt compelled to show people what she thought they wanted to see so that they would think highly of her. She was concerned with what others thought of her and made sure to show them what she believed they wanted to see. When she wasn’t prepared to show that image, she wanted to remain hidden.


I believe everyone does this to some extent.  Most of us put on our best business look for job interviews, are just a bit sweeter than normal when talking to a new love interest, and act a bit different at church than at home. However, there are those that rarely show their authentic self. Instead, they hide behind a façade of what they think people want to see. Those are the ones that are perpetually disconnected.


Some of those people end up feeling as if they have lost their identity. They may go through life without ever acknowledging their own value. These types of people constantly put others first and are often everyone’s go to person when they need something. Yet, these people often do not feel valued.


Hiding The True Self


Other people hide behind the façade as an escape from reality. For instance, a woman may not feel beautiful, thus, she will over-beautify herself. Similarly, a man may feel that he isn’t as good a provider as he believes he should be. In that situation, he may exaggerate his job responsibilities and income.


Others have, for one reason or another, come to believe that others’ views of them is critically important to their success and worth to society. These people often create judgments of themselves and attribute them to others. If they actually bothered to have a conversation and learn about other people’s perspectives, they might learn that the people that they are trying so hard to impress, don’t actually have the judgments that they believe they do.


Being Authentic


A person needs to show their authentic self in order to connect. Hiding behind facades prevents true connections.


In our next article “To Judge and Be Judged,” we will discuss the phenomena of people that judge they are being judged.


the search



In the previous article “Family Connections,” I discussed some of the reactions when people learn that one or both of the parents that raised them are not their biological parent. In this article, I explore the connections and feelings that often arise during the search for a person’s birth parents.


Now, rare cases exist where the person takes a DNA test and immediately finds their birth family, everyone loves each other, and they live happily ever after. However, that isn’t the norm.




A person shouldn’t expect anything other than a rollercoaster ride when looking for a birth parent.  Emotions will go high when the person sees a DNA match. Then, they will fall through the floor when the match does not respond to messages or hides all their information. This process may repeat several times.


Likewise, the person searching may contact a DNA match, who puts them in contact with other family members. Just when they start building a strong connection, someone else does a DNA test and it blows a hole in the theory of who the birth parent is. Now, they are left dangling.   They feel connected, but they aren’t connected the way that they think they are. In some cases, they may not be connected at all.


News of a mis-connection can be almost as emotional as learning that one or both of your parents are not your biological parents. This is especially true in cases where the new connections were supportive and welcoming, while the parents that raised the person are deceased or the relationship with them is strained.


The Process


The process can be lengthy and the result is not guaranteed.   It is very easy for people to become too excited, which often scares off DNA matches. It is equally as easy for people to become frustrated, lose interest, and just give up.


The best possible approach is a slow, steady approach where the person makes lots of connections. This allows emotions to be more even while allowing the person to build relationships with people that are related, if only distantly. Building connections with these people helps the person learn information that is useful in solving their parentage puzzle. Possibly, more importantly, these connections help the person to feel connected to family.


The final article in this series “Found, Now What?” will discuss the ability to connect with birth families and the associated emotions.



After the recent flooding in the Midwest, I had to scoff at a politician who claimed that there were towns totally destroyed that would never exist again. Although this is possible, this politician clearly does not understand the mindset and determination of Americans.


Examples From History


If we look back in time, Chicago rebuilt after a major fire destroyed over 17,000 buildings in the 1870s and San Francisco came back stronger than ever after a 7.9 earthquake hit in 1906. More recently New Orleans is rebounding from Hurricane Katrina. Likewise, Joplin, Missouri is on the mend after a devastating F5 tornado destroyed a nearly mile-wide swath when it plowed through the southern part of the city eight years ago.


In all these cases, people died and property was destroyed, but the community survived. The same can be said of countless communities across the country. The key to their recovery is the people. People coming together to help one another is a way of life for many Americans. They fight for their communities even if politicians don’t realize it. Human resiliency should never be underestimated.


I can tell you that my father and father-in-law are prime examples of people who would be there any time for anyone. And, there are countless others like them. During the recent Nebraska flooding, for example, a farmer lost his life when he was taking his tractor out to help someone in need.


A Little Help


People overcome tragedy on a regular basis. Some get more attention through the media than others, but that does not diminish the effort. There are millions of situations where people help each other every day. It can be as simple as the neighbor who clears another neighbor’s sidewalk and drive after a snowstorm. We’ve had neighbors do this for us and vice versa. The neighbor of my father-in-law offered a portable heater upon learning that he needed something to heat his back porch to keep stuff from freezing.


A Lot of Help


Sometimes the help is more substantial. For example, in his earlier years, my father-in-law raced to the scene of a fire to save a family’s home, took a tractor through two-feet of snow to get mail for the entire neighborhood, and did mechanic work on a semi on Christmas Eve so that the driver could get home to be with his family for Christmas.


Other times people risk and sometimes lose their life to save a friend, a neighbor, or even a stranger. People do this for each other. It is human nature to help those around you who are in need.


If we stop for a moment, each of us can recall with examples of how someone has helped our families or us. Likewise, we can remember ways we have helped others.




Even though there are times it is challenging to express gratitude, especially when the gift is anonymous, I believe most of us are grateful for those that help. Most of us have seen heart-warming videos of someone graciously giving their time and effort to help others in need. Those videos are very touching to us as a third-party. The person who was the recipient of the help, is likely extremely touched and grateful.


I for one am very grateful for human resiliency. I am proud to be a part of a community and a country where people help others in times of need. The world could be an even better place if we focused more on the wonderful gift of human resiliency.




There is a local restaurant where my wife and I occasionally dine. A nice feature of this restaurant is that they allow you to create custom salads and entrees from a list of ingredients. We often create salads, choosing the greens, toppings, and dressing.


Creating custom salads and entrees is a bit more challenging for kitchen staff because they don’t know what is right because they have made it a thousand times. Instead, each time is unique. This requires having a process to ensure that the food items are created per their customers’ requests.


Some of their locations seem to do this well. Unfortunately, at the location closest to our home, they seem to have a difficult time making my salad according to my specifications. And, if mine is correct, it seems someone else’s meal has an error.




I have come to expect that they will make mistakes when making my salad. Even when it appears that they’ve made it correctly, I usually spend the entire time looking for the mistake. If there isn’t one, I will still find a flaw. I might say something like, “Well, it has all the right ingredients but they put too much salad dressing on the salad.” I try to mold reality into meeting my expectations..


The restaurant is usually good about fixing the mistakes. However, the errors are annoying because the rhythm of the dining experience is thrown off. My entrée sometimes ends up arriving before I get the correct salad. Other times, one person is eating while the other is waiting.




After this happened several times, I wondered if there was a connection between my expectations and the errors occurring in the kitchen. As such, I tried setting expectations beforehand that the kitchen staff would correctly make my salad. This seemed to help improve, but not completely eliminate, the issues with my meal.


Positive Expectations


It does make me question, however, how much my expectations result in self-fulfilling prophecies. Thus, I started working on setting positive expectations to see if I could observe results from my expectations. Recently, I have focused on positive expectations regarding close parking spaces and avoiding traffic congestion. So far, having these positive expectations seem to help me be successful in achieving my intent.


It doesn’t really matter if I am actually experiencing these positive results or it’s just my perception. By connecting these positive expectations with my results, I am creating a healthy self-fulfilling prophecy. As I expand these positive expectations to the rest of my life, I can experience a major life shift.





When people think about teams, they typically think about sports teams. However, many businesses also use the concept of teams to focus individual workers on common goals. Teams, however, go far beyond athletics and our work lives. They don’t even have to be officially designated as a “team.” A team can be any group of people acting together with a common purpose.


Team Formation


Some teams, such as a college basketball team, have an official charter.  Meanwhile, other teams don’t have a formal designation. In the latter case, people may work together for some common cause or purpose without officially forming into a team.  For example,  people often work together to free someone trapped in a car after there is an accident. In this case, there is a common purpose of saving someone’s life even though no one stopped to declare the rescuers a team.


When people come together with a shared purpose, clear agenda, and strong leadership they can plan and coordinate in a manner that creates amazing results. If we look at Apple, for example, Steve Job’s leadership and his development teams changed how most of us live our daily lives.  This is true even for people that use competing products.


The Common Enemy


Sometimes leaders struggle to get the results they desire from their teams. To focus the team on a goal, the team leadership may identify an “enemy.” In the basketball example, a coach may target another team as an enemy.  Often, the coach is trying to create or leverage a rivalry. However, they may have other motivation for selecting a specific team to target.


The focus on one enemy can have amazing results. During World War II,  the Allies joined forces to stop the Axis Powers. People came from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, cultures, races, and genders for a common goal of defeating Hitler. Everyone was a part of the team.  Some worked in factories, some fought, and everyone sacrificed.  The patriotism and teamwork during WW II is unrivaled to anything experienced today.


However, having a common enemy also has the potential to have negative outcomes. In basketball, the team can become so focused on one team that they lose sight of the bigger picture.  They put so much effort into beating one team that they lose games with other teams that they should easily win.


By becoming obsessed with beating an enemy, the team’s identity becomes based on the enemy. The team does not have its own identity because all decisions and actions are based on what is perceived to be needed to beat the enemy. They may be working to beat the competition, but if they win or the “enemy” goes away they are suddenly thrown into a new place with no identity.




Another risk associated with defining an enemy is that the enemy becomes the “bad one” and the team becomes the “good one.” By defining one as good and one as bad, the “good” team begins to believe that it deserves to win at all costs. The team may even see themselves as righteous and above others. This can lead to inappropriate, unethical, and potentially illegal behaviors.


Using the basketball example, there are certain teams that display less than appropriate sportsmanship. Sometimes these behaviors can even do physical harm to other players.  Yet, they seem justified to the player and sometimes to the coaching staff, too.


Often not all players feel the same way.  If they disapprove, other team members have to make a choice.  They can stay with the team and overlook these behaviors even though they do not approve.  Alternately, they can speak up knowing that there may be repercussions.  If they disapprove strongly, they might even excuse themselves from the team.


In many situations, team members are pressured into remaining silent.  To make matters worse,  frequently people stand up for the inappropriate behaviors. This often takes the form of excuses and finger pointing in an effort to distract people from the inappropriate behavior.


The Value of Teams


A team is much more powerful if it has its own identity.  That way the team can stand on their own.  Their competition is less relevant.  They can withstand changes that happen around them and are not reliant on their perception of the competition.  The team is less likely to be overconfident or lose sight of the overall goals.


The world needs teams because people who are working together can accomplish amazing things.  If leaders could engage large groups of people in a common purpose, with clear intent, and a coordinated effort, things we never imagined would become possible.  Diversity of thought, discussion, and compromise, would unleash creativity like never seen before.




The purpose of advertisements is to create a connection between consumers and the product being advertised. They really don’t care if the viewer has no interest in their product or no need for it. Instead, they try to show a connection and a need that will encourage people to buy their product.


Not Actors


The statement “These are real people, not actors” appears regularly in advertisements. This statement is intended to connect the viewer with the “real people” in the commercial. The idea is to get the viewer to think, “Oh, these are real people like me. If they like it, so will I.”


Other advertisements try to connect the consumer with things that they desire. A weight loss commercial may show men and women that lost 50 pounds. They are hoping that the viewer will react strongly. Perhaps they will say, “I want to lose that much weight. Maybe I should use their program.” On the other hand, the consumer may say, “I only need to lose 20 pounds. If they can lose 50, surely I can lose 20.”


Magic Pill


Pharmaceuticals often advertise the magic pill. In commercials, someone suffering from depression magically becomes a happy person after taking the magic pill. Advertisers hope that you will ignore or not even see the fine print that says some people have suicidal thoughts when taking the magic pill. In reality, there are no magic pills.


Alternatively, the advertisement may feature a sexy woman or man. Consumers are drawn to them because they want to be like them and they want to have what the person in the advertisement has. The hope is that the consumer will equate the sexiness of the actor with the product. Thus, they are attempting to implant the idea that the fancy car will make the consumer sexier or draw a sexy person into their life.


People are driven to see the grass on the other side of the fence as greener, which is fueled by these advertisements. Of course these advertisers don’t tell consumers that they are fine the way they are. If they did then they wouldn’t sell anything. Connecting people with being happy the way they are and with what they have is completely contradictory to advertising.


Negative Advertising


Advertisements aren’t, however, always presented in a positive manner. In political advertisement, for example, many advertisements paint an opponent in a negative light and contrast themselves as positive. These advertisements may use black and white images of the opponent, shroud the opponent in darkness, and/or use negative verbiage stamped across the opponent. Meanwhile, the favored candidate is presented in color with positive verbiage. These types of psychological techniques have evolved over the years, but are still obvious in commercials today.


Be In Control


It’s important for us to understand how advertisers attempt to make connections to products, services, and people. By having this understanding, consumers can use their own critical thinking rather than being at the mercy of the advertisers.


So, next time you see an advertisement, especially if it seems too good to be true or is very degrading to someone, question it, research it, and consciously choose how you react to it.





This week I had the pleasure to meet a very nice younger woman. She was having some rare time on her own, as she is the mother of a four year-old and a six year-old. Still, the conversation focused mostly on our children. We talked about the inability to do anything – even go to the bathroom – alone when the kids are really young. She said that she was enjoying this age and she appeared a bit apprehensive about the teenage years.


Sensing her concern, I decided to share my perspective about the Terrible Twos, the Rebellious Teens, etc. I believe that although a particular child can be challenging, a lot of the behavior of children is connected to the expectations and words of their parents. If the parents expect the children will be brats or will be well behaved, they are most likely going to be correct.


Our expectations for our children and other things in our life drive both what we notice and how others behave towards us. We cannot disconnect our expectations from our words and our actions, which in turn affect the people around us. Thus, it is important to have the best possible expectations while maintaining a healthy balance of reality.


It is critical to expect our children to behave, our boss to treat us fairly, and our neighbors to be friendly. However, those objectives may not always be achieved. If we are in a situation where our objectives are repeatedly not met, we need to adjust our expectations.  For instance, if our children continually get into trouble despite our expectations, it would be unreasonable for us to continue to think they were perfect angels. We should continue to love them. However, consequences are important. Otherwise, the message is that they can get away with anything.


Reality based on our expectations is not limited to interactions with family and close associates. Our expectations can affect every aspect of our day-to-day experience. For instance, if you believe you are better than others, they will perceive that and treat you with disdain. If you believe people in certain jobs are incompetent, you are likely to find those that are incompetent. Alternately, you will perceive people you encounter in that job as incompetent. Similarly, if you view people at the small café in town as friendly and outgoing, people will pick up on that expectation. Therefore, the people that you notice and who notice you will match your expectations.


Things do happen that you have no control over, but a majority of your reality is created by each of us every day. So, make it a good one!