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When Friends and Family Judge You Without Knowing It
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Thursday, July 26, 2018

by Mubeena, Founder at

Friends and family are the closest people in your life. In their intention to mean well, they can end up judging and undermining you. Here are the top 5 incidences clients regularly express that have left them vulnerable around those they love.

There’s no doubt that your friends and family can be your rock. In good times and in bad, true friends and genuine family will be there no matter what. Relationships can make or break the way you face life. Even when you don’t seem to have a purpose, are lost or at a crossroads, life isn’t so bad when you have amazing people around you.

Great friends make it easier to get through harrowing times. You laugh with them and share your achievements. You approach them for advice on the trivial and the significant. You are instantly comforted when they come around to help you to finish that daunting task. You are grateful that they cover for you when you just aren’t up to it. Real friends know your inner workings and support all your decisions, right?

A great family can also be an amazing source of support and sometimes they are the only network you need. Whether it’s a job you’re looking for, or a blind date, family members can come to the rescue. And what about those amazing get-togethers on special occasions and holidays! There’s nothing like coming together with family and celebrating over sumptuous feasts. You get some of your habits, personality and attitude from your family as well, shaping you as a person.

But of course, that’s all in an ideal world.

For many others, friends and family have caused the most brutal betrayal, pain and hurt. Most of my first clients sought me out after being hurt by someone they knew, loved and trusted. This has been one of the major motivations in scaling my professional listening practice globally. Speaking to a stranger after a loved one hurt them proved hugely cathartic for many of my clients. A stranger doesn’t know your past and has no connection to your friends or family and this made the experience a cleansing one. I wrote all about this in one of my earlier blog posts: Why Strangers Make Better Listeners.

Apart from extreme cases of betrayal and pain, people tell me what they feel by those they love on a daily basis too. Much vulnerability is experienced by subtle and covert behavior that leads one to feel undervalued by those they are most close to. And they do it all unknowingly, without intending to and with no realizations after the fact. Many of my current clients have expressed their mild frustration at the subtle ways they are judged everyday by family and friends.

Here are 5 common incidences related to me by clients over the past year where friends and family leave them feeling judged without knowing it.


So many of us garner self-confidence and social recognition from the effort we take to dress and look great. I hear stories on a regular basis related to this issue, and how friends will comment on that zit on their face or that top they wore that made them look heavier on an off day. “I want to be myself and be accepted just the same when I don’t look or feel my best” is a common complaint. Now you might consider the people who would comment or criticize you on any aspect of your appearance not to be a real friend. Friends do not intend to make you feel less than you are, even though I personally witness this kind of covert commenting happening all the time. It’s okay to want to dress down, or want indulge in a carb fest with tons of ice cream in front of everybody. And they ought to love you for living in and feeling the moment.

Expected Social Behavior

If you are having an awkward day or not in the mood to socialize, friends and family can get overbearing. And many a time, they will chastise you for cancelling on them at the last minute if you genuinely do not feel like going to a social engagement that was planned. The first reaction alludes to them believing that you are being deliberately selfish and uncompromising. Friends and family need to understand that as a human being, you are free to change your mind. “Unless someone is dying, I don’t get to change my mind or decline.” is what I hear all the time. Ironically, one of the most anxiety-inducing feelings is the dread of going to family gatherings especially on holidays. You are expected to attend without question, particularly in cases where your presence is required to represent your own family at these occasions. This is an all too familiar form of judgment and has left many of my clients feeling vulnerable.

Major Life Change 

If you experience a major change – such as weight gain or weight loss, or sudden shifts in your money situation, getting married or divorced, or a slight alteration in your opinion or viewpoint – it can affect how family and friends relate to you afterward. Family and friends are the first to take notice and bring up all the nuances of how your life-changing event will now alter the person you are, the new schedule you would now have to follow and drumroll… the new people who are sure to enter or exit your life. These reactions are natural. It is healthy to talk about life changes with your real friends. It is unfortunate however that many men and women feel undermined by their friends’ reactions to major shifts in circumstances. It is more common than you’d think, with reactions ranging from jealousy to despondency to downright indifference or nonchalance. The point is that friends have invested part of their life in you and when you undergo a major transformation, they may have lost some of that investment and subsequently choose to cope by unintentionally passing judgment.

Insist on Giving Advice

Close friends and family have deservedly earned a sense of entitlement on account of the relationship. So when it comes to providing their opinion, out it comes without a filter. Again this is the most natural instinct. Most friends will give you their two cents taking the liberty they’ve earned. Sometimes, the advice is unsolicited and forced upon you without you asking for it. Friends and family may believe they are entitled to tell you things that are in your best interest, but this isn’t always the case and they aren’t aware of it. “My best interest is mine alone” is what I hear clients tell me. When friends mean well by insisting on advice, clients have come to me feeling like pushovers in some instances. It gets complicated when they attempt to tell friends that they don’t necessarily need their advice at this time, which puts a strain on things for a while.

Account of Give and Take

Many friendships and relationships are built on the ideal of reciprocity. A good solid friendship is about maintaining a healthy balance between give and take. In fact, the value and quality of friendships are usually assessed by how much you’ve done for them and vice versa. Not many people realize that this equation is a form of subtle criticism, denoting the conditionality of friendship. When problems arise, the first weapon of defense is usually the “after all I did for you” card. It is a classic guilt-inducing mechanism riddled with the burden of defending yourself. What you do for your friends is definitely a way to build a friendship, but it is also used viciously when the time comes to settling a pressure point.

Summary of Article

The Big Ideas

01. Covert

Much vulnerability is experienced by subtle and covert behavior that leads one to feel undervalued by those they are most close to.

02. Freedom

Friends and family need to understand that as a human being, you are free to change your mind if you genuinely feel off.

03. Best Interest

Friends and family may believe they are entitled to tell you things that are in your best interest, but this isn’t always the case.

final thought


That’s what close friends and family members do not only because they mean well, but also because it fulfills their own emotional needs. So what should be done about it? I say there’s nothing to do about it but to be aware that the people who love us the most can unknowingly put us down without meaning to. Judgment, criticism and condescension don’t have to manifest loudly. They can also show up in softer ways through the people we love and could affect us just as deeply.

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Mubeena is the Founder of Listen Truly, helping adults get the clarity and relief they deserve without psychotherapy. She started working as a professional listener out of her need for spiritual growth and her desire to practice non-judgment. If you would like to learn more, sign up for a free orientation session.
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