No-one is proud of their character flaws and our typical response is shame and self-hate. Judgement is at the top of the list of nasty flaws we hide and don’t talk about. I have struggled with insecurity around my identity and my go to defence mechanism for this is judgement. While this doesn’t put me in the best light, I want to share it with you as understanding the meaning behind judgement has turned it into a useful tool rather than the ugly crutch I used to lean on.
In the past, I was so afraid of revealing my true being and my vulnerabilities that I would shield them by critiquing others and myself, usually adding humour to further hide. While doing my first round of decluttering close to a year ago, I noticed this pattern and how I was using it to bury my true self. Now, I had made the commitment to work on myself and when you do that there is no room for hiding. The faster you face up to your blocks and fearful beliefs, the faster you grow and the faster you get closer to your vision.
Seeing the total pattern, I saw the vicious cycle I was in: I would have a judgemental thought/ action about someone and then immediately feel guilty and ashamed, judging myself and so I would go on. Learning more on the topic, I discovered that my brain had the best intentions. There was something that would be painful for me to face up to and my brain was trying to protect me from that truth. The irony, of course, is that it stunts your personal growth and you are not protecting yourself, but harming yourself in the long run.
This was a major breakthrough that immediately broke the cycle of perpetual judgemental thinking. I decided to stop judging myself and chose to see the positive intention in my thoughts and actions. I did this by acknowledging the judgemental thought as soon as I recognised it and following a process learn from it.
Next, I needed to address the source. I needed to understand what my brain didn’t want me to see so that I could learn the lesson and clear the pattern with forgiveness. My strategy was simple. I would use my defence mechanism as a tool. I became vigilant in noticing judgemental thoughts as they popped into my head and followed a 3 step process each time.
These three steps break the vicious cycle of judgement as a crutch:
STEP 1: How can I see this with love?
Judgement and insecurity come from a place of fear. They help you avoid; to keep people and painful emotions away from you, but when you choose to see your thought with love, you acknowledge its best intention and you let your guard down so you can see what it is trying to hide. So right there, when and where you have the thought, say (to yourself) “How can I see this with love?” If that’s all a bit too woo-woo for you, you could use either of these options too, “Mmmm, that’s interesting, I wonder what that means?” or “How can I see this positively?” That takes the edge off, allowing you to change your response to a more authentic expression of your true self. With this first step, I am choosing my response and how I want to participate in the situation and I immediately feel safer and more secure to do the next step.
STEP 2: What is the lesson?
Still in the moment ask yourself, “What is this trying to teach me about myself?” Or “What is the lesson here?” When I ask these questions in my head I always get an answer or a realisation of how I am falling into old patterns. A couple of times I have even experienced profound moments of clarity where I suddenly see a problem from a new perspective that allows me to deal with it and move forward. However small or big the realisation, I make a note of it right there so that I remember to do the third step later when I have some time to myself. (If you’re worried you’ll forget, pretend you’re writing a text and make a quick note on your phone.) The answer isn’t always obvious, so if you’re feeling a little stuck, try looking at your judgement as a reverse mirror for your insecurity. If your thoughts are commenting on someone’s point of view, it is likely you are insecure about your own perspective on the topic. Ask yourself why this is? Do you feel unqualified to have an opinion or like you might look stupid? That’s what you need to look at a bit more deeply in step 3.
Now, these first two steps might seem like a lot of work in a social situation, but with a bit of practice you will get to know yourself better and find that you run through them in under a minute.
STEP 3: Let it go.
A bit later, when you have some time to yourself, the last step is to address your fearful pattern so that you can clear it with forgiveness work. When you do forgiveness work on your fearful patterns, you are able to clear and let them go so that you can get closer to your personal truth and who you truly are. The principal is to forgive the situation, yourself for your part and the other party involved. This is not AA and you don’t need to make contact or say it out loud. What is important is that you acknowledge the experience and then forgive any blame as you accept the lesson and the opprtunity to learn more about yourself.
While I would love to say that today I don’t have any judgemental thoughts, that is just not the reality (yet). However now that understand that my judgmental thoughts are really signs that there is more to learn and more to clear, I actually celebrate them. I know they have nothing to do with the person or situation I am judging and everything to do with me getting to the next level in my journey. Every fearful belief that I clear leaves me with more clarity and increases my drive towards my vision. Ultimately the goal of this practice is to clear these lessons until I no longer have a use for judgemental thoughts, meaning I won’t have them anymore. But that is a long, so for now, I choose to see these thoughts with love use them for good and for growth.