Hello, I’ve been thinking a lot about how to heal from being evaluated. When Ming and I started looking for a non-desert place to live earlier this year, we began a journey of trying to find a new community. Even places we might live in work trade, or a place to rent, means someone is judging us, trying to decide if we’re “a good fit.”
“A good fit” can mean a whole range of things. Do we look the part? Are we responsible? Will we start a meth lab and blow the place up? Will we pay rent on time? How about embezzling, theft, violence? Will we become horrible, entrenched, and impossible to move out?
Will we demand things, be unpleasant pointing out the injustices we see, rock the boat to the point of capsize? How about growing weed or complaining a lot? How about reporting law violations to the authorities?
“A good fit” can resemble one of my other detested phrases: like minded. It reminds me of borg. Are we really like minded?
It takes years to know another person’s mind. You might be able to tell by looking at me that I’m fat, curious, paying attention, of a certain age, able to walk without assistance, light skinned, trying to be read as a woman. But you can’t tell my mind.
Those with power who are established and have a safe place to live hold the keys. They have their traumas from bad experiences. Or they heard a horrible story.
The powerful person can have curiosity and optimism. But they also can project their fears onto me and Ming, the unknown newcomers. The projected fears can hurt. It’s one more way of being misperceived.
When life starts to feel like one long job interview, that’s stressful. Places in Montana, this permaculture farm in Ojai, an intentional community in Oregon, being considered for dog sitting jobs…
“I stopped reading my evaluations,” my retired teacher friend said. We were talking in her pool. I’d brought up how exhausting it is, to be evaluated.
“Me too,” I said. I was a teacher for six and a half years, at a university and community colleges. “It was so derailing. It would knock me on my ass for days.”
My friend agreed that teaching evaluations are derailing.
Yes, I tried so hard to help these young people learn. I poured my soul into that work, for peanuts. To hear the students brutally criticize me was pure pain. I gave so much, for their benefit.
Evaluations never helped me improve. They just made me feel like society is doomed, people are horrible, and I should give up.
Oh, but this is supposed to be about how to heal from being evaluated. Holy crap, I need a lot of healing. Here are some ideas.
- tell kind people how it feels
- alone time–hide out
- imagine the people in your life who have loved you most skillfully and unconditionally before you, behind you, beside you, holding you
- nurture another being like spouse, plants, frogs, or chickens
- touch your own arms, hands, legs, tummy while feeling self-love
- eat the most comforting burrito
- smell flowers
- ask Mother Earth to help you hold the pain
- take a long view perspective of your own life, to see how this incident compares to other incidents
- try a bird’s eye view
- try a geological view
- take deep breaths and imagine the oxygen nourishing all your cells
- make art
- help someone else feel valued with heartfelt praise or a memory of something you enjoyed doing with them
- value yourself unconditionally–tell yourself kind sentences like “you matter to me” and “I’m so glad you’re here”
- plan something fun you really want to do
- thank your body for enduring stress
- sing loudly and let the pain come out of your lungs as you sing
Thank you for all the ways you love. There’s a time to evaluate, and a time to just be valid, no questions asked.