Most of us are tormented by the inner voices that are continually scrutinizing our behavior, performance, and self-worth, comparing us endlessly to others, and pushing us to reach often impossibly high standards and expectations. We believe these voices and often they paralyze us into deep shame and feelings of inadequacy.
Furthermore, when we are living by what we think we “should” be and do, we are unable to feel and know who we are. We live according to the dictates of our judge, not according to what is true for us. In doing so we are so busy trying to live up to the expectations of our judge that we never discover what is true for us.
Our inner judge is a perpetual energy in our psyche that has been inside since childhood. For some of us, it is constantly attacking us no matter what we do or how we behave, causing us to feel basically inadequate or defective.
For others of us, we mostly feel the attack when we mess up, when we get rejected, when we put out our creativity, when we have a failure or when we transgress and do something that violates the principles that we were taught.
Sometimes what our inner judge says to us has some truth to it but it comes in such a condemning and harsh way that it only re-enforces our already damaged self-esteem. More importantly, it does not consider our deepest needs in a loving way and does not help us to grow and learn from the situation.
Learning how to transform the voices and the attacks of our inner judge is a basic element of the Learning Love Work. If we keep allowing the voice of the judge to run our life and our decisions it prevents us from fully living our life and it hinders us from feeling worthy of receiving and giving love.
As we are growing up, all of us need some kind of guidance and structure. We need to bring inside of us a guiding consciousness that is the right mix of discipline and playfulness, containment and wildness, planning ahead and living in the moment, responsibility and carefreeness, and finally a healthy mix of sensitivity to our needs and sensitivity to the needs of others.
But we are seldom taught this kind of intelligent and conscious mix. We either had too much of one side or too much of the other side – either too much or not enough structure, too much or not enough self-discipline.
In essence, our inner judge is there to keep us safe, civilized, considerate, and adhering to certain standards of behavior and expectations that we received as a child and now consider appropriate. Of course, it is different in each of us depending on the culture we were raised in. For instance, in Europe, north of the Alps, the judge is much more rigid and strict. South of the Alps, the judge relaxes considerably even to the point of perhaps being a bit too relaxed.
Whatever country we come from, our inner judge is not kind. It does not have our best interests in mind. It does not see who we are or what we need for support, guidance, or growth. It does not support us to be fully alive and it often gives us impossibly confusing mixed messages – “you are too uptight, you are irresponsible” you should grow up, you should be more playful,” “you are too sensitive, you are not sensitive enough,” and so on. When attacked from inside or from someone else, we often deny, defend, justify, minimize, become enraged or collapse.
One way or another, we are always at the mercy of this punitive, critical, insensitive energy.
So, how can we transform this? How can we get out from under this crushing force?
Imagine or recall the last time you have been rejected by a lover, made a bad mistake, or suffered a severe setback at work. Most likely, you had a judge attack that you experienced either as nagging negative voices inside, a collapse of your energy with depression and loss of motivation, or you saw yourself moving into some kind of compulsive behavior to avoid feeling the pain of the attack. Perhaps all of these things at the same time. . You are saying to yourself, “I did it again!” “It is never going to work out for me.” “I will never make it.” “I will never find the love I want.” “There is something totally wrong with me.” Or perhaps you blame others or the world for being so “unjust.”
Now imagine that in front of you is a being or an energy that is immensely loving and wise. Feel the quality of this energy and feel that it is looking at you with the deepest love and understanding. Feel that it knows you for whom you are, what you have been through, and what you need for support.
You hear a voice that says;
“I can understand that you are in a lot of pain right now. I also know that this event has triggered some of your deepest insecurities. But what your inner judge is saying to you or the criticism you may be receiving from other people is not correct. Let me suggest to you another way of looking at what happened. This relationship did not work out (or you suffered this setback or made this mistake) to help you learn something valuable. This happened to help you grow. I want to ask you what you most need right now to help you recover from this difficult event? What kind of support do you need? Perhaps you need some help from a close friend or from a professional you trust to guide you to help you see what you need to learn. This is a time of growing, of learning, and strengthening. You might not see clearly right now. But let’s take the time needed for you to get some perspective.”
Perhaps you can feel that these sentences come from a totally different space than what you normally hear from your inner judge.
We call this: “Changing Channels” or “Listening to the Inner Wisdom.” It takes some practice and some perseverance to switch channels because we are so used to listening to our judge without questioning if it speaks the truth and without knowing that we have an alternative.
When we switch channels and listen to this energy, our energy expands and moves out of the mind and into the heart. This is the energy and the voices of the perfectly supportive parent we never had. This kind of parental energy does not pay any attention to the rigid, moralistic, punitive, competitive, comparing, impatient, narrow, and judgmental guidance that we most likely were conditioned with which formed the basis of our inner judge. It only wants the best for us; it wants us to live our life fully as we are meant to live it according to our own gifts, uniqueness, and way.
Sometimes life brings us very difficult challenges. Sometimes, it is hard for us to find the light again, to find hope and our self-confidence again. To get back on our feet again, it is important to learn to become aware of how we are being attacked by our inner judge and consciously turn our attention away from that energy and listen to the energy of love and our higher wisdom which can give us support rather than condemnation. And at times, we may need someone to help us tune into this other energy.
It is good to use whatever resource and support you can to stop listening to your inner critical judge and bring you back to loving yourself.