How will being less judgmental about myself help me?

Karen R Koenig

Along with self-compassion you need a large dollop of self-curiosity. Can you see how reflection, compassion, and curiosity all link together to advance self-understanding and channel your energies toward change? As a nice girl, you generally love to ask people about themselves. I’ve heard you. You’re terrific at problem solving and use your natural inquisitiveness to get answers - for other people. You like to know the internal workings of others so you can help them. What about you?

 When you’re curious, your mind is wide open to resolution. The reason that curiosity is so useful for nice girls is that you can’t be curious and judgmental at the same time! Curiosity opens a window to circulate new ideas, while judgment closes windows, keeps information out, and makes you stagnate.

When you’ve eaten the dessert that you’d been saving for your dinner guests and have to run out at the last minute to buy another, tell me, which is more productive: (a) to obsess about how bad you were and think about hurling yourself under a truck, or (b) to wonder what made you so stressed and uncomfortable that you did something that wasn’t in your long-term best interest? Okay, that was a no-brainer, but I hope it shows you how curiosity trumps judgment.

 If you want to finish first and become a “normal” eater, you need to understand what attracts you (even unconsciously) to unhealthy eating and finishing last. You have to dig deep, then dig deeper still, until you have all the answers. When you do, your issues will resolve more easily. Being curious about yourself encourages self-reflection, just as ongoing contemplation provides space for you to wonder what makes you tick.

Sheri Van Dijk
Although we often don't realize it, the way we talk to ourselves has a big impact on how we feel. When we judge ourselves, we trigger painful emotions such as anger, anxiety, disappointment and sadness; and it lowers our self-esteem.

Consider these questions to help you think about how self-judgmental you are:

  • When you make a mistake, do you tend to judge yourself for it (e.g. "That was stupid," "I'm such an idiot")?
  • Do you think you are "your own worst critic," as the saying goes?   
  • Does it sometimes feel like you have a tape-recorder running in your head, playing the same messages over and over again? For example: "I'm worthless," "I'm stupid," "How could anyone ever love me?" 
  • When considering a new challenge, do you find yourself filled with self-doubt? For example: "I'll never be able to do this," "I'm not good enough," "Who am I kidding?"

Many people experience these kinds of thoughts so automatically that they're not even aware the thoughts are present. In fact, in CBT these thoughts are referred to as "automatic thoughts" because they can happen so unconsciously. In spite of this lack of awareness, though, these thoughts still trigger painful emotions, making you feel bad about yourself and reducing your self-esteem.

This is where being less judgmental about yourself helps. The first step is increasing your awareness of your judgmental thoughts and the emotions they trigger. Then you work on bringing acceptance to your experience - accepting the thoughts as just thoughts; accepting the emotions they trigger; and gradually, accepting yourself as you are.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.