Why We Judge Ourselves
Our theme is being ‘in the moment’. One sneaky way we avoid the moment is to judge it as soon as we find ourselves in it. That, as I said last week, pushes us out of the present and into past or future.
Fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear, fear!
That’s all it is.
We are SO mean to ourselves sometimes. We say things about ourselves that we’d NEVER say about others.
I had a chance to engage with judgement this week with a surprising (for me) result.
Someone asked me to list good things about myself. Of course I had an instant cringe response. “What? No way! I’ll look like I think I’m so great. My narcissism will be exposed…”
Then again, past conversations with him have left me with profound insights. So I took a deep breath, leaned into the discomfort, and dared greatly.
He watched me with humour as I thoughtfully laid out things I like about myself. I was aware of sifting through ideas, rejecting some, weighing others carefully before adding them to the list. It pleased me that I could think of many positive things to say about myself.
“It’s interesting”, he said, “that the things you list are all really ‘good’ things. Characteristics that no-one could find challenging or offensive. What about this thing?” he wanted to know, “And that one?”
What? Ugh. Not those things.
I justified, explained and pontificated. Words and words and dances of defence. I criticised and judged the qualities he was pointing out. They’re not good enough, not acceptable in some way. I made it sound logical – but actually I was rejecting those aspects of me.
He laughed at me kindly. Loving kindness allows us to see ourselves. It makes it less scary to look at what we’re avoiding.
Eventually I understood that my list was comprised of qualities that are less threatening to ME. The other qualities he was referring to – the ones that didn’t make the list – have an edge to them others might not like.
Whether these qualities are good or not depends on how you use them. They can be light or shadow, used for growth and healing or for destruction. And sure, they are the ones people have used to change the world – but some of those world-changers were hung, burned or stoned to death.
Maybe I’m being dramatic (or maybe you know JUST what I mean when I say that) but we are social animals. We depend on social approval and society can be cruel and unforgiving when you challenge its ways. Like a lion whacking it’s cub when it ventures out of line. Survival fear kicks in and makes us avoid those double-edged aspects of ourselves – even though we need them for change to occur. Picture standing up at a PTA meeting and saying something that challenges the system and you’ll immediately know what I’m talking about.
So my list of excellent qualities that didn’t make the ‘Good Things About Me List’ are all double-edged; Speaking out, challenging the norm, questioning authority, being tough, listening to my Self, following my truth… all double-edged examples. Maybe if I was a male my list would have been different… maybe not.
“The best things about you are probably also the worst things about you.” my oracle said.
Oh, is it just about our judgement? Whether we see those things as positive or negative…
Truth is, I’m proud of them. I DO think they’re ‘good’ aspects even though they have that shadow side. So then why do I judge and criticise myself when I see I have them? Why do I avoid and put myself down?
You know what? It seems that in part it’s to please others. Yikes! Do we judge ourselves to please others?
What do you think? Do we do that with parenting for example?