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The Judge in Your Head is Holding You Back

I woke up the other morning and my daughter was sick, which meant she was staying home from school. I work from home and had a four-hour webinar scheduled (which is its own form of torture, but that's neither here nor there), so my first reaction was, "This is a disaster!" (but with more swear words) and I went about preparing for the day feeling stressed and put upon.

Later that same day, about two hours into my four-hour webinar, the audience was confused. I had used the term "victim" too loosely in a sentence and it sent people down a linguistic rabbit hole. My first reaction was, "Argh! Why can't they just understand what I meant?!?" (but with more swear words) and I continued on with the webinar feeling frustrated and overcompensating so nobody would get confused again.

That night, when my daughter was still sick in bed and I was unable to take care of her (due to my phobia of vomit), I felt terrible. The voice in my head was saying that a good mother wouldn't be afraid of barf and that my husband would probably get tired of my behavior at some point and decide he'd had enough. All that, and some swear words, too.

This voice is my Judge. It's ruthless, cruel, and pervasive. And it's got judgments about everything - it judges circumstances (paragraph 1), others (paragraph 2), and most harshly, it judges me (paragraph 3). The Judge is the universal Saboteur that afflicts everyone, though it shows up differently for different people.

Some people experience the Judge as loud, huge, sadistic, raw, and unmissable. Others experience the Judge as slick, quiet, and biting. Some don't even realize they're experiencing the Judge at all -- they just think they're hearing the "truth" in their heads.

The Judge finds faults -- with you, with others, and with the circumstances you find yourself in. It berates you for mistakes, causes disappointment, makes comparisons, obsessively warns you about future risks, and causes you to over-focus on everything that is or could be "going wrong." And then, because misery loves company, the Judge activates one or more of your accomplice Saboteurs. (more on those later.)

Your feelings of guilt, regret, shame, and disappointment are from the Judge - it's always looking for what's wrong. And much of your anger and anxiety is brought on by the Judge, too. So why do we let it stay? Why do we listen?

Because the Judge is a master liar and is constantly justifying its existence. Some of the lies you may hear from the Judge include:

  • Without me pushing you, you will get lazy and complacent.

  • Without me showing you the truth about others, you'll get taken advantage of.

  • Without me punishing you for mistakes, you won't learn from them and you'll just repeat them over and over again.

  • Without me scaring you about bad future outcomes, you won't work hard enough to prevent them.

  • Without me judging others, you will lose your objectivity and not protect your self-interest.

  • Without me making you feel bad about the bad outcome, you won’t do anything to change it.

All of our Saboteurs - the voices that get in our way - stem from a very early need to survive and get love as a child. The Judge would have us believe that its "skill" at noticing, exaggerating, and reacting to the negative it observes reduces our chances of being surprised and harmed by unanticipated dangers to our physical and emotional survival. And maybe it once was true. Maybe when we were smaller we did need to be judging circumstances, others, and ourselves to stay alive and be loved. But we've grown since then, and the Judge has not.

Does this sound familiar? If so, don't worry. There are things you can do to dial down the volume of the Judge and to stop taking its word as truth.

First, start noticing your Judge. What kinds of things does your Judge say? What kinds of things does your Judge notice and berate you (or others) for? When does your Judge show up and when does it stay away? Try to practice noticing without believing the lies or agreeing with the judgments - easier said than done, I know. But grappling with the Judge, fighting and sparring with it is only going to strengthen your Judge. Quietly noticing it and giving it a label ("Judge") will help you become more aware and clearer about what's happening. And when you're clearer about what's happening, you can make more choices about what to believe, instead of swallowing the Judge's lies whole.

Second, consider joining my six-week group coaching program to learn more about Positive Intelligence, an intense but practical workshop that will help you turn down the voice of your Judge (and other Saboteurs) and dial up the strength of your inner essence, your Sage. This work has been life-changing for me, and I'm excited to share it with you!

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Apr 30
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

So true!

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