There are certain life credos that most of us have been hearing ever since we can remember. Some of them we don’t argue because we’re sure of their promised value. Don’t judge others for instance—yes, we’ve heard it, we get it, we know it. In fact we’ve heard it so often we know to say we’re sorry when we behave badly, or to help someone who is hurting. Whether we judge or not, the awareness of the concept is engrained in who we are. And in a rare and beautiful way we collectively agree with it.
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Why then, with such a handle on the concept of the judgment of others, does it seem so incredibly, wildly okay for us to judge ourselves? We simply ignore the lifelong messaging and give permission to go at ourselves whenever we feel the need. To beat us up in ways we would never dream to inflict on the people we love. In fact self-judgment has a sort of perceived virtue thing to it; it’s perfectly fine because “we’re not hurting anyone.” And it is tricky because it goes so unnoticed, like a habit or tick we don’t even know we have. The voice, the tape, the narrative that plays in our heads about ourselves; commenting, criticizing who we are and what we’re doing is intrinsic to us. It’s as though it’s there to remind us of all the things we cannot stand about ourselves; it’s from where all our doubt and fear come, that eventually scare the crap out of us.
So many of us have no idea how much the tapes in our heads impact the way we feel about who we are, and how we sit in the world. Of course there are plenty of people around us throughout life who feed the tape of judgment, who help create the voice of doubt we carry, but at the end of the day, we’re the only people in our heads.
We are the writers and creators of every word that rolls about who we are. With even just a little conscious thought we might agree collectively, we don’t need a jerk living on the inside, making our hard times harder. We could actually truly use an ally. A voice that roots for us, holds us up, gives us a break, and in the end, believes in us. The world is a tough, sometimes unforgiving place, so give it a moment and ask how often do you think you judge yourself? For just one day, try to notice how regularly the jerk on the inside comes in to trip you up.
And then remember how it got there. The only voice that matters, that truly makes a difference in our lives is our own. Seems the least we can do to try and make sure we are telling ourselves the things that can help make life a gentler, easier place to be.
To hear author/speaker Liz Pryor’s TEDtalk on judgment click here.