Letting go of judgments is difficult and requires repeated practice.
People are constantly judging in terms of good and bad, forgetting that what they are really describing are the consequences of actions and events, not the person. When you say he is a good person for taking care of others, generally you are referring to his or her actions as be helpful to others. When you say she is stupid for staying with a man who is mean to her, you mean she is likely to get herself hurt emotionally by her decision and that is hard to accept.
Judgement confines us in a limited sense of self, restricts the depth and fullness of our potential and capacity for love.
Nevertheless, before you start beating yourself up for being a judgy judgerson, you should know that EVERYONE do this. Most of the time it is a complete reflex, a knee-jerk reaction, and there is a way to start questioning your judgmental instincts. Let us grow a bit and explore judgments, shall we?
Many times, we see the world through filters based on our experience, values and assumptions. Those filters will either limit what we see or expand what we see. As if we have a tunnel vision, we only see things that comes in our vision within the tunnel and we believe that it is all there is to see.
Judgments can result from the avoidance of feeling. When you call yourself names such as “loser,” you may avoid feeling sad about something you did and the need to make changes. Avoiding feelings does not have good results.
Judging yourself may also be a form of punishment. We know that punishment is effective in stopping behavior, at the same time it is not motivating, and it does not help create new behavior. Thus, many judgments result in doing nothing, not in doing better.
The cost of judging is high and can be destructive particularly for emotionally sensitive people. Imagine what your life would be like if you are to live your life and not afraid of being judged, either by yourself of others.
Our mind’s ability to generate judgments is very powerful, because it is working off old neural programming that must needs to rewritten repeatedly before a new and more wholesome thought processes can become habitual. With more wholesome thought patterns in place, crisis becomes less overwhelming, and it is far easier to let go of resistance, tune in to your passions and inner resources, and move forward with self-confidence.
Mindfulness of your thoughts is a first step. You must be aware of your judgments to let go of them. Mindfulness can also be the way you let go. Notice your judgments, label them as judgments and let them pass. Simply practicing letting judgments pass without acting on them or believing them will lessen the power they have over your mood and behavior. Over time, you will be able to smile, say, “That’s a judgment,” and go on with your day.
No one wants to face an excruciatingly painful thought such as “I’m a bad parent,” “Important people in my life don’t respect me” or in my case “I am not pretty enough,” yet such unwholesome and destructive beliefs about ourselves lie within many of us. Our fear magnifies danger out of all proportion. Some of our self-judgments are so painful to acknowledge that we prevent our conscious mind from bringing them to the surface. Some of our self-judgments are so painful to acknowledge that we simply stop our conscious mind from bringing them to the surface of our awareness.
If you are angry, you can find ways to temper that aspect of yourself, becoming assertive and clear about your boundaries without entering into a competitive and possibly even hostile mind-set that will sabotage you. Even if you are a lifelong pessimist, you can learn to become more optimistic.
This process sounds simple, but you may find that the sensations and emotions accompanying your harsh self-judgments are so painful that you quickly find an excuse to end a session or, if you are not meditating, that you brush away what arises in your consciousness. You can also restate the judgment into goals for yourself or appreciation of others. Instead of saying, “She always looks so put together and I’m such a slob,” say, “She’s great at putting outfits together. I want to learn to do that.” See yourself for who you are and the strength you have in doing what you do.
Everyone has qualities worthy of admiration and esteem that serve them well when harnessed. You will be better able to claim yours and enhance them once you have done the important work of acknowledging, learning from, and letting go of your unwholesome self-judgments.
You can consciously change your tendency to cast that quality in an unwholesome light. Begin to write about ways in which this quality has benefited you or might benefit you in the future. You may even want to use a thesaurus to find words that mean the same thing, because it might shed some light on the various qualities of your self-judgment and how it gets in the way of self-acceptance.
You may also want write out an affirmation of the positive aspect of this self-judgment and recite it to yourself several times, while visualizing the positive feeling within your body, allowing yourself to feel the truth of the statement and anchor the self-acceptance.
Letting go of your self-judgement takes courage. Cultivate mindfulness, and the witnessing self will arise unexpectedly as you go about your activities, alerting you to your entire mind-body awareness, including your discomfort. You may experience mindfulness as a flashlight that spotlights awareness of your conscience, or as a little voice whispering to you. When you are engaged in a confrontation, you might suddenly realize, “I don’t like this; it’s not good for me or the other person, and I need to stop.”
The day of my automobile accident was a crucial day of my life. It completed changed the way I would live my life as well as all those around me. While in the hospital, my parents spent enormous amount of their time and energy supporting me through the recovery process. My sister spend her after school hours traveling to see me. My brother, who was in his teenage year, was always home alone when he needed emotional guidance from my parents. I became the center of everyone’s focus. I became the center of my own focus, my negative self-talk and judgments. I convinced myself that all these extremely tragic events happen to me and only me. I blamed others for showing their sympathy to me but the truth was I was feeling self-pity.
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. Comparisons are superficial way by looking at your weaknesses in terms of someone else’s strengths, not the whole picture, and without complete information. When you judge yourself, consider what you are leaving out, what the bigger picture is.
Inside all of us lie possibilities that might sound preposterous to us in the present moment. To access them, we must undergo the art of creative transformation.