Even with the best intentions not to do it, I often pass judgment on people, situations and myself. This is an old habit that has been hard to break and whose net result often leads me to self-loathing and discouragement.
Our shadow self
As I continue the ever-enlightening work of becoming more conscious, I have developed a keener awareness of this inner critic. I still have a long way to go in exposing this unconscious, destructive process, but I am making progress.
Judging others is not uncommon for humans. It comes from our “Dark Side”, a part of ourselves we developed from our experiences, parents and mentors. The famous Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung, called this side of our personality our “Shadow Self”, the place where we store those aspects we know we have but don’t want to accept.
When we see these characteristics in others, we project our negativity on them. This is when we judge, and you can be sure your Shadow Self is at work. For many of us, this has become an unconscious reflex that skews our experience of the world and throws us off balance. However, when you hear yourself judging others, you can become conscious of the damage that you are doing so and you can change it.
Becoming your observer
It is possible to choose your thoughts, but you must learn to become your own internal observer. This calls on you to check yourself before making judgments that will throw off your equilibrium. Let’s take an example in everyday traffic.
Someone cuts you off without signaling. You have two thoughts; to curse at them and flip them off for their indiscretion or; to realize they may be responding to a family crisis or an emergency.
It’s your decision. You can choose the thought that stirs you up and raises your blood pressure, or you can choose the ones that neutralize your negative emotions. Choosing the second allows you to concentrate on the things that matter. Perhaps it allows you to understand that you might behave the same way when faced with a similar emergency. This might open the door to empathy rather than judgment.
We were not born with a Shadow Self, but built it over time. We strengthen it when we judge others. Cut others a break, like you, they are trying hard and doing the best they can. Learn to love yourself just as you are. The judgment you pass on others are really negative things you believe about yourself. Be kind and accepting of who you are, and you will begin to do the same for others. You will live much happier when you do.
Remember, paying gratitude for your life forward will reward you with much joy and contentment.
Previously published here and reprinted with the author’s permission.