© 2012 jen

Truthy Tuesday: Self-Care & Self-Judgement

There are so many little ways you can take care of yourself, but today I want to focus on one aspect of self-care that’s on my mind a lot recently and that’s self-judgement.

Self-judgement is a hard habit to break. One thing I’ve noticed recently is that the more time I spend practicing judgement: judgement of myself, judgement of others, judgement of situations and how I think they “should” be. The more I exercise the judgement muscle and the stronger my judgements become. I’ve been working at not putting my energy into the judgement of others as much as I possibly can because the more energy I have for judging others the more I have for judging myself and the less energy I have for all of the other things I’d rather be doing: spending time with family, self-care, work, hobbies friendships and more.

“Yet I’ve learned that you don’t serve the world by taking on its judgments, hanging your head in shame, and saying, ‘Yeah, you must be right.  I must be bad.’  Take responsibility for your part in your own disasters, yes – but take on every projection of guilt from every unhealed person?  No!  For whatever reason people may need to project their own anger and guilt on you, you don’t have to accept it if it’s not yours.”

~Marianne Williamson

Today I will share with you my own journey with self-judgement. This is part of much longer story, which I will summarize here so that you will understand my perspective. If you’ve already heard this part go ahead and skip the next paragraph. I was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I lived with this disease for 41 years and never knew that all the little weird health issues I had were all interconnected. I struggled with binge eating and food addiction, because the nature of my illness is that I cannot absorb all of the nutrients I eat when I have gluten in my diet. In the last 3 weeks I’ve gone totally gluten-free and finally have some perspective on why I have always struggled with my weight for most of my life.

Everyday I’m becoming healthier, both in body and mind, finally understanding why my metabolism was so off, why I couldn’t lose weight no matter how much I exercised, why I couldn’t control my over eating.

As I shed pounds I’m also finally letting go of some really, really old self-judgement that I didn’t know I was still carrying around with me.

You see, when you struggle with your weight at a young age, it’s easy to judge yourself for being different. It’s easy to eat pizza with your friends and wonder why you’re bigger than everyone else even when you try to stay on track- eating less. It’s easy to judge yourself for eating more than others and tell yourself that you suck for not being able to control yourself. It’s easy to judge yourself in relation to your friends and decide that you’re the biggest one in the room. It’s easy to hate your body and wonder why your belly is always so big no matter how much you exercise. And it’s easy to carry this around with you even when you have consciously decided that you’re no longer going to hate your body anymore- or at least it was easy for me.

All of these thoughts and feeling get carried around like a shadow in your daily life. You don’t even notice it much of the time- it’s this small thing hanging around, sneaking into your head when you’re feeling vulnerable. Flashing through your mind when you glimpse in the mirror.  It’s that nagging thought that makes you hate photos of yourself before you’ve even seen them. And it continues to call you, whether you choose to listen to it or not. This is how insidious self-judgement can be.

Now that I’m getting healthy, healing and losing weight in a healthy way, with the smallest stomach I’ve ever had in my life I’m so struck or better said, confronted by the pain I’ve put myself through for years and years with my own self-judgement of my weight.

It’s as if I couldn’t really process how much I was hurting myself as I was doing it at the time, in my teens, twenties and thirties, and a few shadows in my forties.

I remember one time when I was 12, a boy told me I looked like a line backer and I internalized this, telling myself I was a hulk of a girl, that I was enormous. I believed other people’s negative judgements of my body because I already had so many of my own- those negative thoughts were already so deeply rooted in my mind.

Now I feel the pain of my judgement and I feel so badly for that kid that I used to be, who didn’t know she was sick. Who didn’t know that the food she was eating was making her bloat and was wreaking havoc on her metabolism. If only I could give that girl the insight I have now, that there was nothing wrong with her body- my body or my self-control, that there was nothing wrong, except sickness. I hated something about myself that I didn’t have the resources or knowledge to change until fairly recently.

Obviously I cannot go back and hold the hand of my child self and since I can’t time travel and go back to little me, instead I will say this to you or really anyone with self-judgement:

Wherever you are in your life, whatever you’re confronting, the thing you judge yourself for- that thing you return to over and over again- let it go. Dial it down. Maybe you inherited this problem or maybe you made a mistake, but judging yourself isn’t helping. It won’t motivate you. It’s only hurting. Someday if you want to, you’ll make peace with this and will you will feel so much better.

Does this week’s theme of short-and-sweet self-judgement techniques, and the whole idea of getting rid of self-judgement feel like it doesn’t fit? I’ll tell you why it does. This idea of actively working at reminding ourselves to judge less over time creates less judgement– it’s a way of whittling down the shadow judgements too. It’s not something you say one time and then it’s over. It’s something you say in quick, little reminders dozens, or hundreds of times until you start to feel it. It’s many short and sweet techniques (or conscious reminders) that add up to a whole new perspective- a kinder perspective toward yourself and others.

This is my wish for everyone, less self-judgment. I don’t think it’s possible to be without judgement entirely. We will always have some judgement of self, others and situations, but I do think it’s possible to bring it down a notch or two and hey, why not? Who really wants to be stuck in judgement of anyone or anything?

When we judge ourselves it’s as if we put limits on our own potential. It’s a way of settling for less. It’s one of many ways that we can get stuck in our lives. We can be so quick to blame ourselves for problems or in some cases blame others to the point that we miss what the issue even is– like my Celiac Disease.

The more we can dial back the judgement in our lives the more space we create for possibilities, movement and growth, and this is a GREAT WAY to take care of ourselves.

How about you? Can you relate to my experience with self-judgement? If you’re a mortal human I’m pretty sure you can. Share your thoughts.

We do a weekly feature over on The Maven Circle called Truthy Tuesday with different topics each week. We’d love to have people post their experiences around those topics on their own blogs too, to encourage more truthiness around blogland and openly talk about some of these things!

Psst- Jena and I are switching back and forth, week-to-week posting Truthy Tuesdays on the Maven Circle blog and on our personal blogs. Here’s where you can find Jena’s post about short and sweet self-care.

 

 

Comments

comments

11 Comments

  1. Amber
    Posted October 16, 2012 at 8:26 pm | #

    Thanks so much for today’s lesson. It has inspired me to close the computer (after this comment, I promise) and get back to work. I am going to write a letter to a young client I have been working with. She left college to help her mom deal with her divorce and some health issues. She is consequently stuck in her bedroom all day every day (until I came along). She is stuck due to bulimia and due to her judgement that she is too big to deserve to not be stuck. She agrees to the goals we set but I know she agrees to do these goals once she is worthy of them (i.e. has lost that 40 pounds). She will not see her friends due to her self judgement. She will not eat in front of people. When she enters a grocery store to shop she knows everyone is not looking at her but she feels as if they are and has anxiety attacks. All this fear is due to her own judgement which she has internalized from outside messages. She was a star athlete over half her life. She is highly competitive. Now she is going on nearly a year of binging, purging and hiding. I am going to write her a letter and incorporate much of what you have said in today’s lesson. Your reminder that the more you focus on judging less the less you will judge is good. There is a sort of self love muscle that can only be built through the hard work and practice of allowing yourself to be seen, to be alive, to do things you want to do regardless of the very strong muscle of judgement you have built up over a lifetime.
    I really appreciate this post and thank you for your honest experience and sharing.

    • Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:41 pm | #

      Wow, Amber, when I wrote this it was my hope that someone somewhere struggling with what I’ve been through could relate to my post and get some respite from their own self-judgement. I hope my words help her. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Posted October 16, 2012 at 8:49 pm | #

    Stunning. Only yesterday I noticed how insidious my self-judgement is, for very similar reasons you talk about here. Your statement, ‘All of these thoughts and feeling get carried around like a shadow in your daily life’ really speaks to me. Like a shadow, a constant shadow. Despite what you talk about here, you seem to have been able to transcend these shadows to live a pretty full life. In some areas of life I have been stuck by those nasty little buggers. In recent months/years I have I have come to realise they exist as a force in my life and I’ve worked hard to challenge them. It’s an uphill battle and I’m not sure if I’m winning. But I keep going.

    • Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:40 pm | #

      Jo, we seem to be on the same page a lot. I love that! So glad you connected with what I had to say! <3

      • Jo
        Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:08 am | #

        Yes we are! It’s lovely. You tend to say what I’m thinking and feeling. Thanks for the post. Hoping we can one day meet in person. :)

  3. Posted October 17, 2012 at 6:14 am | #

    Jen – I can soooo relate to you on this post. I was NOT a small child myself, and had a few similar instances of being judged for my size as an adolescent. I can even remember being 11 years old, and I actually put myself on a diet. What was I thinking?! It’s terrible that kids can be so down on themselves. I still struggle with it to this day, but I’m not as hard on myself as I used to be. My body didn’t get a lot better after having two kids, but now… I guess I have an appreciation for what my body did – it grew two humans! I go easier on myself now in that respect.

    Now I find myself always judging me on my own parenting. THAT is what needs to go. THAT is where I need to dial back. I’m trying so hard to just face forward and not look back at what I regret as a parent… It’s good that I have high standards for myself as a parent, but not so good when I feel like I’m always letting myself down.

    I am so happy for you that you found an answer to your problem. Thank you for sharing your story – it really has me reflecting on how I treat myself.

    • Posted October 17, 2012 at 11:39 pm | #

      Thanks, Ashley. What’s sort of funny is I was talking with my mom about this post and she reminded me that I was thin at times when I was young, which is true, but I think once your self-image is big it’s hard to undo that thought. Thanks so much for chiming in and sharing! Glad my words offered some insights for you!

  4. Posted October 18, 2012 at 1:33 am | #

    Hooray! I relate so much to your post! I am taking those thoughts with me and adding them to the still, small voice that I’m trying to cultivate that doesn’t judge me or anyone else. Sometimes when I feel really self-judge-y, I ask myself if I would say or even think the mean things I’m thinking or saying to myself to a dear friend. The answer is always—ALWAYS—no.

    • Posted October 18, 2012 at 10:46 am | #

      That’s a great technique Lise. I do that too, ask myself if I’d treat someone else this way and same thing, the answer is always N.O. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Posted October 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm | #

    JEN! before i even started reading your post, i saw the photo of you and thought, “WOW, WHAT A BABE!” you look amazing. i can totally relate to your story, growing up being the biggest girl in the room–not even always the heaviest, but the tallest for sure, and even that. . . yikes.
    anyway, thanks for sharing. i have also recently lost a lot of weight–finally! in a healthy way! which is also a strange thing to have happen (maybe this is all vague, i’m trying to be brief and not overload this comment box). i feel so relieved for you that you have finally figured out what is going on with your body! that must be such a huge relief.
    long ago, a friend gave me the mantra: “i am enough, i have enough, i do enough.” which has, especially over time, given me so much inner peace and has allowed me to move forward in life with so much less judgement! because it’s TRUE! WE ARE ENOUGH! i also find that when i stop to remind myself of this, i take a big deep breath before saying it and again afterward. so science AND psychology are on my side here–it really does calm me down.

    • Posted October 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm | #

      Laura, thank you so much for your sweet message. I find that sometimes something a person writes on my blog touches me so much I can’t even comment on it. Yours was one that really touched me, so thank you for that. I appreciate the sentiment and the time you took to share. Congrats on your weight loss. I’m still in the middle of mine, but I’m getting closer to my new healthier self everyday.

      You are enough, we are enough. Take care!

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