Here Comes the Judge

Judgment. It haunts many of us on a daily, if not hourly, basis.

Let’s start with judging ourselves. (I’ll move on to judging others and judging circumstances in the next two weeks.)

Many of us judge ourselves harshly and regularly.

  • “You just screwed that thing up again. Geez, you never get anything right.”
  • “You should have handled that conversation better. You don’t handle confrontation well at all.”
  • “You didn’t finish that project today. You’re not working hard enough.”

Or something along those lines. Does any of that sound familiar?

To quote Shirzad Chamine, “Most successful, high-achieving people are privately tortured by their own Judges.” (from Positive Intelligence: Why Only 20% of Teams and Individuals Achieve Their True Potential)

Tortured. That’s a strong word. But I know I used to be tortured by my judgment of myself. I literally used to beat myself up on a regular basis, all in the guise of trying to help myself get better, be better, and accomplish my goals.

The question is how does torturing yourself help? Does it truly help you to perform better?

The reality is that torturing yourself doesn’t help at all. In fact, it makes things worse.

What? What do you mean? If I don’t beat myself up, if I’m not hard on myself, I’ll never be successful. I’ll never get enough done. I’ll next do things good enough. Because if I don’t push myself, I’ll allow myself to be lazy or careless or second-best.

You have to be your own worst critic – or someone else will do it for you. Right?

Especially as a leader. You have to be strict with yourself to make sure that you’re setting a good example, that you’re doing things right.  

The simple truth is that all of that is a lie.

Torturing yourself, beating yourself up only makes you unhappy, anxious, and less likely to be able to fulfill your dreams.

But … if I never judge myself, how will I correct my mistakes? Grow? Evolve?

There’s a difference between judgment and discernment, and the main difference is the emotional response associated with recognizing the mistake.

If there are negative feelings involved, more likely than not, you are sitting in judgment of yourself, accusing yourself of wrongdoing that is probably exaggerated.

If you are able to observe your mistake or error objectively and calmly, that’s discernment.

The big difference is whether or not you torment yourself. If your emotions are negative about yourself, you’re judging, not discerning.

Mr. Chamine goes into much greater detail about what he calls the Judge Saboteur in his book, Positive Intelligence, which I highly recommend, but this is the crux of it:

If what you are thinking makes you feel bad about yourself, here comes the judge.

So, have a little compassion for yourself this week. When you catch yourself in judgment, try to stop beating yourself up. Cut yourself a little slack.

Discern what needs to change, and then change it. You can skip the torture chamber along the way. I promise.

Let me know how it goes this week. I’m curious.

And if you want help identifying your judge and stopping the vicious cycle, reach out. I’d love to talk to you about it.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *