Self Judgment for Not Breaking the Pattern of Self Judgment
David had a relationship break up about 5 years ago. In the aftermath he felt miserable. The voices in his head were kicking in with a lot of harsh self judgments, at least harsher than usual. It wasn’t an entirely new dynamic, but the amplified self criticisms of being a loser, “nobody will want to be with me”, “another failed relationship”, and “I’ll forever be alone,” hurt so much that he couldn’t ignore them anymore. He decided to do something about it. David committed to stopping those incessant negative thoughts of self judgment that were wreaking havoc on his emotions.
After a few months of David’s best and most willful effort he concluded that he wasn’t getting anywhere. He had assumed they were just thoughts, small things, and not very powerful. How difficult could these be to change? But after months of trying and failing to stop them his mind concluded that he was less powerful than those little thoughts and voices in his head. What did that say about him if he failed to make even these simple changes? He must not be able to do much of anything. David concluded that he was a hopeless case failure. If he didn’t have what it took to beat these thoughts then he didn’t deserve to be happy and successful.
After his failed attempt for change he felt even worse than before he tried.
Of course that conclusion isn’t surprising since the part of his mind making it was the same judge and victim characters that were creating all the self judgments to begin with. But I digress.
The important part of the story is that somehow David didn’t stop. There was another part of his being, a part of his being with a desire for more love and happiness and it wouldn’t rest. That part kept searching and trying.
5 Years later:
I met David on the phone a couple months ago. We have since talked several times. In a conversation a couple weeks back he shared with me the story above and his concluding beliefs from 5 years ago. He had forgotten about them until that week.
However the agreements he made about himself weren’t forgotten. The faith he had put in those beliefs about being a hopeless failure were still there. He had invested faith in that conclusion about himself and turned it into a belief. His faith from years ago was powerful enough to keep that belief alive in his mind for years. The result of that powerful force of faith was the opinions that still echoed in his head. It was by watching those opinions of his internal dialog that he was able to spot the thread.
As he shared the story he could still feel a connection to the failure self image and the emotions it produced of unworthiness and insecurity. He didn’t know how to detach himself from this sticky failure image. Intellectually he could see it was just the conclusion at the time, but somehow the emotion and feeling didn’t shift. To him the belief was still true even though intellectually he didn’t want it to be. This is dynamic is more understandable when you become aware that faith and beliefs aren’t made and changed by the intellect.
Understanding Expectations of Self Judgment
You can’t change the beliefs if you can’t change the assumptions they are built upon. And you can’t change the assumptions they are build upon if you can’t see them. When it comes to self judgment some of the most common hidden assumptions are expectations. David saw in his flash back the concluding self judgment he believed about himself, but he didn’t yet see the assumptions and interpretations that preceded it. Without changing these preceding elements the beliefs remain stuck. We don’t usually see the assumptions but our faith goes into them and the implied agreements as well as the concluding statement we do see.
I explored this with Dave and it resulted in some surprising discoveries of hidden assumptions. I asked Dave how he went about attempting to change his self judgments. He described basically willing his mind to stop the chatter and miserable emotions. I asked him how effective this approach was. Dave explained that it wasn’t effective at all. I asked him what he did then. Dave said that he tried harder at willing his thoughts and emotions to change. And how did that work I asked. “Not any better”, Dave replied.
I asked Dave if he tried any other approaches. Dave said, “No, that’s all I could come up with.”
“So let me get this straight,” I inquired, “You attempted to will your internal dialog and emotions to change. When that didn’t work, you tried even harder to do the very thing that didn’t work”
“Yes,” Dave answered. “And when that technique didn’t work for the umpteenth time you concluded that you failed?”
“Yes,” Dave answered.
I had a few more questions in this discovery process.
Did you research and find books that had effective strategies for eliminating self judgments? “No.” *
Did you consult with a therapist who had a track record of helping people get rid of their self judgments? “No.”
Did you consult with any professionals who had a track record of helping people get rid of their self judgments? “No.”
Do you even know anyone that has gotten rid of their self judgments that you could talk to about how to do this? “No.”
Do you know anyone that is without self judgments that you could us as a model for behavior and attitude as an example? “No.”
Then I had to ask Dave how long he thought it should take him to stop the self judgment pattern. More specifically, what the critical voice of the inner judge thought it should take to rid the self judgment pattern. Dave said two months.
And just how long has this pattern of self judgment been going on? “Since I was probably about 5 years old I suppose,” said Dave.
“So let me get this straight. You had decided to stop this internal pattern of self judgment that has been going on for about 30 years. You are going to do this with no resources. You have no specific insights or knowledge of how to change the beliefs in your mind, but you are going to figure this out, and be successful at it. You don’t have any input from people who have done this effectively, or have taught others to do this effectively. You don’t know anyone who has done it to model your self after for an effective strategy. So without any of effective plans, strategy, tools, training, or resources you are expecting to succeed in two months?”
Dave was quiet as he considered my question.
With the help of some thin slicing Dave could see many of the assumed beliefs that he had unknowingly invested his faith in. The inner judge’s expectation of two months for success seemed rather ridiculous when you stood it up against the complete lack of resources, training, guidance, and support for the task at hand.
As the expectation became clear Dave’s faith started to naturally fall out of the silly expectations without much effort at all. And as his faith in the elements of the expectation drained, so did the believability of the self judgment. Dave’s agreement about being a hopeless failure dissolved as he focused his awareness on the details of his false beliefs. There wasn’t any loud strike of lightening moment. Only a quiet profound realization of “Oh,,, wow. I had no idea.” And that’s one of the ways you change a core belief through awareness.
Dave works in the construction industry so the use of the following story was used to help him put the old story of self judgment in a new context.
I said, “If I don’t give you any tools, and I tell you to build a house in two months, what chances for success do you have? “None,” Dave said. Do you know anybody that can build a house in two months without any tools? “No. No one can do that. Even a skilled builder with training can’t do it without tools.” Dave replied.
I continued, “Now, if no one you know can make a house in two months without tools, does that mean they are all failures?” “No, they are not failures. They just wouldn’t have the resources they need. They are very capable and successful people it’s just that they would be set up for failing no matter how good they are,” Dave replied.
“The same is with you Dave. The same is with you. You took on the task of dismantling the self judgments and core beliefs in your mind without any plans, tools, training, or resources that you would need. That doesn’t make you a failure. That just means you underestimated the task, and didn’t know how to prepare for it. Not knowing what you were getting into with changing your beliefs and emotions you mismanaged the expectations on the project. You can’t take this one experience and conclude what it means about you.”
And with a clearer understanding that didn’t come from his existing belief system, the inner judge, or victim point of view, Dave’s old belief dissolved and the emotion along with it.
Hidden Elements of Judgment and Beliefs
Your mind will attempt to make conclusions about what kind of person you are. It will cast down self judgments and criticisms. Or sometimes it will raise your self importance in order to set you up for a big fall later. If you aren’t aware of the elements like implied agreements, hidden assumptions, and expectations, then your beliefs will take your emotional body for a ride that you don’t control. And usually it is not a fun one at that.
If you want to take action to change your core beliefs and interpretations that drive self judgments and your emotions, you will find a set of plans, tools, and a step by step training approach in the Self Mastery Course. The Advanced Series focuses several sessions specifically on breaking the patterns of self judgment. If you prefer a more focused approach you can supplement the audio sessions with personal coaching.
And for those that want a jump start boost on the process, you are invited to join me on the Spiritual Intensive to Mexico.
You can’t change the beliefs and assumptions you are not aware of. If you can’t change your beliefs and assumptions, you can’t change your interpretations that drive your emotions. That makes awareness the key to mastering your emotions.