to Self-Judgment and Self-Deprecation
Editor's Note: Comedians
often use self-deprecating humor as the basis for their
routine. But there are many people who use self-judgment
(actually judging themselves) as a way to protect themselves from
outside judgment or as a motivational tool.
Self-judgment and self-deprecation
can be destructive however. Both to the person and to their
relationships. Dr. Paul works identifies self-judgment and the
causes, and how to work through it.
Addiction to Self-Judgment
Margaret Paul, Ph.D.
“I’m such a jerk. How could I
have said that?”
“I’m a looser. I’ll never get anywhere.”
“I’m so stupid. I should have learned this by now.”
“I don’t fit in. I don’t belong with these people.”
“I’ll never be good enough. I’ll never do it right enough.”
“I’m permanently emotionally damaged. I’ll never be okay.”
“No one could love me. I’m not lovable.”
…and so on and so on.
Are you aware of your
self-judgments? Are you aware of how often you judge yourself as
bad, wrong, or inadequate? Are you aware of how you end up feeling
as a result of your self-judgments?
In my counseling work with people,
I find that self-judgment is one of the major causes of fear, anger,
anxiety and depression. Yet most people don’t realize that these
painful feelings are the result of their own thoughts, their own
Most of the time, when I ask an
anxious client why they are feeling anxious, they tell me that
it’s because of something that happened to them.
They usually believe that an event
or a person caused their anxiety. Yet when I ask them what they are
thinking that might be causing their anxiety, they will tell me a
self-judgment such as, “I’ll never get this right,” or they
are projecting their own judgment onto me and telling themselves,
“Margaret doesn’t like me,” or “Margaret is getting
impatient with me.”
When they judge themselves or make
up that I’m judging them, they get anxious. There is nothing
actually happening that is causing their anxiety, other than their
Pointing out to them that they are
causing their anxiety with their self-judgment doesn’t not
necessarily stop the judgment. This is because self-judgment is
often an addiction. An addiction is a habitual behavior that is
intended to protect against pain. What is the pain that
self-judgment is intended to protect against?
Generally, the hope of
self-judgment is to protect against rejection and failure. The false
beliefs are that, “If I judge myself, then others won’t judge me
and reject me. I can be safe from others’ judgment by judging
myself first,” or “If I judge myself, I can motivate myself to
do things right and succeed. Then I will feel safe and be loved and
accepted by others.”
However, just as a child does far
better in school with encouragement than with criticism, so do we as
adults. Criticism tends to scare and immobilize us. Instead of
motivating us, it often creates so much anxiety that we get frozen
and become unable to take appropriate action for ourselves.
More self-judgment follows the lack
of action, which results in more anxiety and immobilization, until
we create a situation where we are completely stuck and miserable.
The way out of this is to become
aware of the feelings of fear, anxiety, anger or depression and then
ask yourself, “What did I just tell myself that is creating this
Once you become aware of the
self-judgment, you can then ask yourself, “Am I certain that what
I am telling myself is true?” If you are not 100% certain that
what you are telling yourself is true, you can ask your higher, wise
self or a spiritual source of wisdom, “What is the truth?”
If you are really open to learning
about the truth, the truth will pop into your mind, and it will be
much different than what you have been telling yourself.
For example, “I’m such a jerk.
How could I have said that?” becomes “We all mess up at times.
It’s okay to make mistakes - it’s part of being human. Making a
mistake does not mean that you are a jerk.”
When we open to the truth, we will
discover a kind and compassionate way of speaking to ourselves, a
way that makes us feel loved and safe rather than anxious, angry or
are always challenging to resolve, and an addiction to self-judgment
is no exception. So be easy on yourself, and don’t judge yourself
for judging yourself!
will take time and dedication to become aware of your self-judgments
and learn to be kind toward yourself, but the end result is so worth
About The Author
Paul, Ph.D. is the best-selling author and co-author of eight books,
including "Do I Have To Give Up Me To Be Loved By You?"
and “Healing Your Aloneness.” She is the co-creator of the
powerful Inner Bonding healing process. Learn Inner Bonding now!
Visit her web site for a FREE Inner Bonding course: http://www.innerbonding.com