“There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.” – Edith Wharton

Mirror number twoI started writing this blog entry months ago. And then I stopped. I couldn’t write anymore, because I believed I could not do it justice. When I returned to the essay this morning, I realized the irony of what was blocking my expression: judgment! Then I remembered a clever Facebook post:

The Creative Process
1. This is awesome.
2. This is tricky.
3. This is shit.
4. I am shit.
5. This might be okay.

6. This is awesome.

Probably, our worst critic is ourselves. Self-judgment can be most obvious in the creative process. Creativity can be completely overridden by the often brutal self-doubting voice. If one wants to come to terms with this inner saboteur, our human minds provide much material for exploration through self-reflection. Michael Singer calls the inner critic the roommate in your head. This is the interminable voice that second guesses and narrates every move we make. What is equally harmful, but more insidious is when we judge others.

I have noticed that when I judge others I feel a numbing effect internally. Somehow, when I direct attention externally, I can temporarily avoid processing the friendly-fire of my own internal, constant self-evaluations. In that way, it is likely a defense mechanism; a defense mechanism that can become an obstacle to one’s own psychological and spiritual evolution. When I summon the courage to look closer, my judgment of others usually comes from a place of fear. When I explored the etiology of this fear, it feels primal, and has accrued from judgments sustained from others, often at an early, formidable age when I had inadequate defenses to cope with these projections.

A small child can perceive disapproval with the slightest provocation from parents merely reacting from their own self-judgments. I have noticed that these projections are often a product of others’ introjected projections that create a vicious cycle. Of course, these projections could not take hold if there weren’t an internal belief that affirmed that judgment. I believe it all starts with our own beliefs about ourselves that can amplify, and perhaps illuminate where self-awareness is possible. I used to use a silly example with my clients to demonstrate this in the hopes of increasing self-awareness. “If someone told you your hair was blue, would you take offense? Of course not, because your hair is brown. If you had bleached it blonde and it had an errant tinge of blue, you might let the judgment land and feel inferior.” There has to be a related internal belief about yourself that resonates with the external judgment, like a mirror’s reflection.

Fears cause judgment and judgment is triggered by fear. Perhaps our judgments of others serve as a primitive defense against feeling more fear and the resulting sense of separation fear incurs. Like an auraborus it is circular and a self-feeding process. if one doesn’t want to live in an unconscious, reactive place of fear which keeps self-love at bay, it is important to begin to dismantle these beliefs which can be a daunting task. Uncovering these insidious patterns can be complicated; our ego would rather maintain status quo. Change is extremely uncomfortable to the ego that wants to seemingly protect our parents from criticism or blame at all costs, despite the promise of liberation from our self-hatred and judgments that imprison us. This protection is a primitive defense to keep ourselves from feeling the natural reaction to the often unintended harm—profound grief, when feeling the grief is actually the antidote. After all, our parents are only human. As we evolve, we realize we are in a human curriculum; humans being raised by other humans. We are all here to evolve, whether we acknowledge that or not. Just because our parents were born before us does not mean they are more sophisticated spiritually. I believe if we are in this human curriculum we are incredibly courageous to have made the soul contracts with each other to do this Sacred Work.

It can be revealing to consider what our greatest judgments of others are. If you have heard the expressions: “There is nobody out there,” or “Wherever you go, there you are,” these phrases demonstrate our perception that what we perceive in the world gets reflected back by what we believe, internally. One can accept this understanding with gratitude once we move through the shame or guilt that keeps self-love from being the constant we live by, from living the love we are.