Photo credit: Ting Libunao

Photo credit: Ting Libunao

MARCH 29, 2016

“What Say You?”

Last week I was in a huge hall with hundreds of others who were summoned for jury selection. The night before, I reviewed the jury selection process online and reflected on what it might be like to be responsible for another person’s life and fate. What’s it like to be another person’s judge?

These thoughts led me to examine judging in everyday life, outside of the formal judicial process. Like, how often do we judge others albeit unwittingly? Through the course of my counselling practice (which includes both working with people and working on myself), I’ve observed that the depth by which we judge others is simply a reflection of how much we place guilt and blame on our own selves. On a level that might sound surprising, the lens through which we regard others serves as the same mirror we view ourselves in.

Working with clients who express difficulty in moving forward in life, I have found that there always comes a point where they confront their own judge, that inner voice that whispers they’re guilty of not being good enough, not deserving, not worthy. I empathize with them fully as I, too, have plunged into my own dark depths of listening to my inner judge and that debilitating inner critic that isn’t on my side. Yes, that part present in many of us that judges our thoughts and actions, shames us into striving to please others just to be accepted, or questions what we’re capable of. That voice that hisses conditional acceptance: “I will like you only if …” Thoughts that pound out many reasons to believe we need to work harder, achieve more, show more proof of success – all to prove to ourselves that we’re good enough.

Good enough for what? The answer is often swift: Good enough to be worthy of love and acceptance. We can be are our own harshest judge, our personal detractor, the cruel commentator of our lives – finding fault at every turn, withholding love and acceptance until we become perfect. After all these years of striving for perfection, I’ve never achieved it, until I realized that the wall strengthened by my own self-judgment was exactly what kept me from moving forward in my life in the ways I wanted. Have you felt the same way?

I continue my personal work in releasing my judge and critic. It’s taken a long time to recognize that their words have never served me; it was time to end their grip on my life.

Thus began the road to self-acceptance and self-compassion, my journey to finding peace. I’m still working on believing my own words as I affirm that I am worthy, good enough, and deserving … beyond a reasonable doubt. I’m slowly having me on my side and does it feel lighter! I prefer – and now choose – to listen to the voice of my inner cheerleader, my personal internal champion who can acknowledge how far I’ve come, and that in my perfect state of imperfection, I am worth loving me.

Who do you find yourself with 24/7 – your inner judge and critic, or your inner lover? I think it’s time to excuse and dismiss the one who’s not in service of your happiness and well-being.

One last thing about last week. Serendipitously, about an hour into the jury selection process, we were all excused. Just like that. No longer needed to serve. No longer needed to judge.

©2016 Copyright Margie Santos