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June 23, 2023

Being Less Judgmental Of Yourself

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We talk a lot about being less judgmental of others - putting our biases and assumptions aside to appreciate the uniqueness of other people who are different from you. Ultimately, that judgment suggests beliefs that you have about the world and how you view your role in it.

But something that is lesser talked about, but equally important, is the judgment we place on ourselves. We are our own toughest critic and oftentimes most difficult person to satisfy. I believe the reason for this is because we have full access to our own thoughts, seeing the shortcomings and missed opportunities that no one else does, knowing that we could have done so much better. This is in comparison to other people where we don’t have the same access to those thoughts and therefore must draw conclusions from everything that happens externally.

To paint the difference here, let’s use an example.

Let’s say you and a friend got the exact same score on a test, a solid 85%. You might relate with your own score unfavorably knowing that you spent some time procrastinating here and losing focus there, and deprioritizing your studying more than you intended to over the weekend. You see those as all of the reasons why you didn’t score better so you might be disappointed with the end result.

However when you evaluate your friend’s performance, you see it more objectively because you don’t have the same context. 85% is a solid B, which represents that they’re upholding their responsibilities in the class as a solid student. It’s very possible that they procrastinated, they were distracted, they didn’t study over the weekend even more than you did. But you don’t know or see any of that, so you’re not biased by their potential upside and give them fair credit for their result.

This is human nature and unfortunate at times because it can make us question ourselves and negatively impact our self-confidence. So how can we stop being our toughest critic and be more fair to ourselves rather than judgmental?

The first thing to do is to interrupt the unconscious script. When you notice yourself having harsh language in your thoughts, that’s your own limitations projecting itself on you. When you do hear that voice come out, try giving it a name - It helps to separate you from it and observe it better. That’s just “Critical Kerry” or “Judgmental James”.

Once you’ve done that, you can try planting a more empowering thought that’s representative of who you want to be. Acknowledge and celebrate your own self-awareness of your thoughts. Give yourself a reflective prompt that shapes a more positive response to the challenge or judgment you’re facing.

When you allow into your consciousness the way you ideally want to relate with the situation, you immediately create your better, more aligned reality.

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