Judge Ourselves as We Endeavor to Judge Others
If we’re working on self-improvement by paying attention to our tendency to judge people harshly, why do we apply the process only to other people? When we’re halting our tendency to think unkindly towards a slow checker or erratic driver, why do we fail to turn the magnifying glass back on ourselves?
How many times do we call ourselves stupid, or lazy, or even resort to name-calling without giving ourselves the same level of respect and understanding we give the mother whose child won’t stop screaming while we wait in a line of 20 people to check out at Costco?
Yet with judgement just as it is with forgiveness and acceptance, we unerringly turn our kindness and compassion outward long before we ever consider turning it inward.
One of my daughters had a tendency to treat friends and even strangers with more consideration than she would her sister and I. For a long time it puzzled me until I realized she knew we’d love her no matter what so she saw no reason to make an effort to win either our acceptance or approval. We do the same thing with ourselves. We know we can’t run off and leave ourselves behind so we believe we can turn our attention and effort elsewhere, thus earning a greater reward.
How Can We Give What We Refuse to Receive?
What we fail to understand is by subjugating our own need for love, acceptance, and kindness, we actually hinder our ability to give them to others. We create an uphill battle for ourselves where we have to be consciously diligent about our actions and reactions. Whereas if we create habits of kindness, of not judging ourselves for the missteps we take while learning new lessons (and life is a constant series of lessons) they become an integral part of our persona. We don’t have to force ourselves to be kind and understanding towards others because we treat everyone like we do the most important person in our lives—ourselves.
The Ugly Faces of Self-Judgement and Criticism
Judgement is a particularly insidious creature. We start by allowing criticism of something small; the waysomeone pronounces a word, an unusual trait that doesn’t fit our view of normal, even the cut of their clothes. Pretty soon we’ve created a false persona we hate and find fault with for no valid reason. Yet it’s really coming, not from the person we’ve targeted but from our own self-loathing. We’ve transferred it to another, most likely because they remind us of something within ourselves we mentally judge, criticize, and maybe even hate.
It’s like a disease run amok that no antibiotic can eradicate.
We’re living in a world where too many are driven by self loathing to say and do things to others which they cannot truly justify or excuse from a rational place. Deep inside they become angrier, blaming the people who drive them to act hatefully instead of doing a little soul-searching to find and heal their own wounds first. Many would say it’s selfish to take care of yourself first. But I believe if we started with the most important person in our lives, healing and loving them first we’d have a much harder time blaming, criticizing, or hating anyone else. We’d remove the triggers to our own self loathing because it would no longer exist. Think about it.
Misused Judgement is Abuse
That isn’t to say judgement is always a bad thing. Our good judgement keeps us out of trouble, helps us make sound, responsible decisions, and is one of our best problem-solving tools. But like all good tools, it is often misused.
When judgement is used to cause pain, or to place one person or group above another, or worse, to pit people against each other, a handy tool becomes a weapon. When used on a larger scale, it truly is a weapon of mass destruction. On a smaller scale, when frequently and mercilessly applied, it causes permanent damage.
Yet the damage caused by misplaced judgement isn’t always visible to the naked eye. Self-judgement in particular doesn’t give the outside world a sign saying “self-judgement practiced here”. If I had to classify it, I’d put it with other forms of emotional abuse; invisible, insidious, and wreaking havoc from the inside out.
The Visible Effects of Judgement
Eventually the effects do become visible; down-turned eyes, slumped shoulders, withdrawal from society, social awkwardness, all can be signs of some kind of emotional abuse. Granted, it may have started from the outside, but when we start believing someone else’s lies; when we internalize and believe we’re unworthy, it’s not uncommon to start measuring ourselves by the same flawed yardstick.
Breaking old patterns isn’t easy any more than breaking an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes. Like any addiction, though, it starts with recognizing the problem, and admitting it needs to be solved.
Once you’ve crossed the biggest hurdle and begun your journey to self-acceptance and healing, Though some of us continue the journey on our own with many false starts and dead-end roads, I’ve learned the road is a lot easier with support.
Seeking Help to Heal
Having people around who can not only help you see the lies others have put into your head, but point out the words you speak and the actions you take which support those lies creates a kind of road map out of the negative space you’ve created. It eliminates some of the false starts and endless switchbacks you’d take on your own in the process of finding your way from judgement to acceptance. What you do for others in stopping the judgemental thoughts is reciprocated by your community.
Case in point. When I first watched “The Secret”, the friend who recommended it became my unofficial accountability partner. We’d help each other out by shining a light on things we said which were impeding our personal progress. Most of it was simply negative self-talk. We’d both, for reasons of our own developed a habit of being self-deprecating, little realizing how much damage it did to our psyches. The first step in repairing the damage had to be stopping the flow of negativity emanating from our own minds, hearts, and mouths.
Treating Ourselves with the Same Love and Respect We Do Others
There’s a passage in the Bible which says “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Many of us treat others better than we do ourselves. I think there’s a good argument for re-stating the passage to read “Do unto yourself as you would do unto others”. In my opinion, kindness and compassion start from within and emanate outwards, rather than the other way around. Unless you love yourself, you cannot truly love another.
Watch the Facebook Live episode about Self-Judgement here.
Gratitude and Acceptance Are Our Greatest Tools
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the flow of ideas when I set an intention to write more frequently.
- I’m grateful for the way my self-awareness is increasing as I recognize old patterns and triggers.
- I’m grateful I’ve started learning to love myself, and to reflect that love with the way I present myself, and care for my meat suit.
- I’m grateful for self-care. Quiet days at home, regular gym visits, tuning into my cats’ purrs, dancing, and all the things which feed my body, mind and spirit, and ultimately help me be a contributing member of society.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, motivation, inspiration, support, encouragement, butt kicks, drive, focus, consistency, stick-toitiveness, family, hope, peace, harmony, health, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, Virtual Assistant and advocate for cats. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. She specializes in creating content that helps entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook: Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author