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Addiction to Self-Judgment

Presented by MD Ahmed's

I'm such a jerk. How could I have said that?

I'm a loser. I'll never get anywhere.

I'm so stupid. I should have learned this by now.

I don't fit in. I don't belong with these people.

I'll never be good enough. I'll never do it right enough.

I'm permanently emotionally damaged. I'll never be okay.

No one could love me. I'm not lovable, and so on and so on.

Are you aware of your self-judgments? Are you aware of how often you judge yourself as bad, wrong, or inadequate? Are you aware of how you end up feeling as a result of your self-judgments?

In my counseling work with people, I find that self-judgment is one of the significant causes of fear, anger, anxiety, and depression. Yet most people don't realize that these painful feelings result from their thoughts, their self-judgments. Most of the time, when I ask an anxious client why they feel anxious, they tell me that it's because of something that happened to them. They usually believe that an event or a person caused their anxiety. Yet when I ask them what they are thinking that might be causing their anxiety. They would tell me a self-judgment such as I'll never get this right, or they are projecting their judgment onto me and telling themselves, Margaret doesn't like me, or Margaret is getting impatient with me. When they judge themselves or make out that I'm judging them, they get anxious. Nothing is happening that is causing their anxiety, other than their thoughts.

Pointing out that they are causing their anxiety with their self-judgment doesn't necessarily stop the judgment. This is because self-judgment is often an addiction. An addiction is a habitual behavior that intends to protect against pain. So, what is the pain that self-judgment wants to protect against?

Generally, self-judgment hopes to protect against rejection and failure. The false beliefs are that If I judge myself, then others won't judge me and reject me. I can be safe from other's judgment by judging myself first, or if I judge myself, I can motivate myself to do things right and succeed. Then I will feel safe and be loved and accepted by others.

However, just as a child does far better in school with encouragement than criticism, so do we as adults. Criticism tends to scare and immobilize us. Instead of motivating us, it often creates so much anxiety that we get frozen and become unable to take appropriate action for ourselves. More self-judgment follows the lack of action, which results in more anxiety and immobilization until we create a situation where we are completely stuck and miserable.

The way out of this is to become aware of the feelings of fear, anxiety, anger, or depression and then ask yourself, What did I tell myself that created this feeling? Once you become aware of the self-judgment, you can then ask yourself, Am I confident that what I am telling myself is true? If you are not 100% certain that what you are telling yourself is true, you can ask your higher, wise self or a spiritual source of wisdom, What is the truth? If you are open to learning about the truth, the truth will pop into your mind, and it will be much different than what you have been telling yourself.

For example, I'm such a jerk. How could I have said that? It becomes we all mess up at times. It's okay to make mistakes - it's part of being human. Making a mistake does not mean that you are a jerk. When we open to the truth, we will discover a kind and compassionate way of speaking to ourselves, a way that makes us feel loved and safe rather than anxious, angry, or depressed.

Addictions are always challenging to resolve, and addiction to self-judgment is no exception. So be easy on yourself, and don't judge yourself for judging yourself! It will take time and dedication to become aware of your self-judgments and learn to be kind toward yourself, but the result is worth the effort!


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The material and ideas shared are for information and educational purposes only. It is not intended for medical or professional help.



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