Don’t Judge Me If You Haven’t Walked In My Shoes

I had an incredible opportunity this past weekend to make a difference in the lives of about 25 teenage girls and women. As I arrived at the Juvenile Assessment Center in Riveria Beach, I still wasn’t 100% certain what I was going to say to these young ladies and the volunteers from the Junior League of the Palm jail-img1Beaches. Of course, I had some ideas in my head, but you never know who your audience is going to be at the detention center. The #JLPB has a great ice breaker game in which all of the girls, as well as the Junior Leaguers are given an opportunity to say some things about themselves. This is where I am given an chance to know just a little more about the girls and can wrap my head around exactly what I want to say to them and the message that I hope they will keep in their hearts and remember once they are released and are back in the real world, facing some of the same challenges which might have put them in the detention center in the first place.

“Where you are today, does not have to define who you become tomorrow” is what I started with. They had all said how they did not like being there and many of them talked about school, college and what they hoped to do with their lives. I shared that when I was a teen, I had landed in a JINS shelter, JIN = Juveniles In Need of Supervision. It wasn’t because I was a bad kid, or I had done something wrong or illegal, it was because my parents didn’t either A: want to, or B: have the capacity to care for me and the state of NJ didn’t know what to do with me, so they put me in the JINS shelter until they figured it out. I was there for polk-detention-center_0about 2 weeks, during which time the staff at the shelter got to know me and when it was time for me to go to court and have a Judge to decide where I was going, the staff stood up for me and told the Judge that I was not a delinquent and I did not belong there. I remember the Judge asking my mother if she wanted me home and she told him no. Then I remember the Judge kind of telling her off because she chose her relationship with my abusive step-father over her own daughter. My father was long gone, he simply disappeared from my life immediately after he and my mother separated.

Going into the room where the girls were being held, I saw a poster hanging on a wall which one of the girls had made that said something about “Don’t judge me, because you haven’t been in my shoes.” This is Dont judge storysomething I’ve said time and time again and because of my past, I have the unique opportunity to understand the “shoes” that many people are walking in. I talked to them about how it felt to be judged by people…people who have no idea who you are, where you come from and even more important, what is in your heart and inside your soul. People judge based upon their own limited experiences and limited knowledge. People judge because they think they know something about other people, without really having any information to make a judgment and truly, we shouldn’t be judging others anyway, it’s not our place to do so. I talked about being judged as a kid because I was the “fat kid” in school and how I was bullied, teased and tormented. I also talked about the teachers and guidance counselors who stood by the sidelines, never doing anything about, or saying anything to my schoolmates. I talked about how it felt to be abandoned by the adults who were supposed to be protecting me, teaching and guiding me, including my parents. Many of these young girls, as well as the women in the room were shaking their heads in agreement.

Then I talked about our lives today and how we hold the power within ourselves to change our lives. It begins with an awareness, being aware of not only the thoughts that we make, but also aware of the people that are in our lives and how they make us feel. If there’s someone in your life who is an energy sucker, meaning that after you’ve been with

Turn your negatives into positives
Turn your negatives into positives

this person, you find yourself feeling really down and drained or they never have anything good to say about anything or anyone and are pretty much a negative person, then you need to remove that person from your life. Clean house, clean your life out of all the negativity and replace it with positive thoughts and positive people. By keeping those positive thoughts and people in our lives, it welcomes positivity into our world.

We talked much longer than anticipated and I gave them a few examples of what can be done when you change your mind. And that is indeed how it starts…whatever it is that you are trying to change in your life, it all starts with changing your mind. Now, I do understand there are some things that we can’t change, but the things that are in our control are very much possible to change.

If you are looking to change your life, as a Certified Life Coach, I can help. While I’d much prefer one on one and face to face sessions, there’s always a way to make it work. Skype, Face Time, phone calls and emails are all an opportunity for us to work together and move you towards the future of your dreams. Use the “Contact Button” to the left of this page and let’s make a plan for you.