Negative Self-Judgment – Guest post by, Tina Frisco…

Image courtesy of Ningren

The people we tend to be hardest on are ourselves. Some folks are an exception to this, but it seems to be true for most of us.

While I was in Pennsylvania helping care for my mother, I fell into judging myself… harshly… a lot.

I should be doing more. I should move back to Pennsylvania in order to help my sisters meet my mother’s needs. I should not feel guilty that my nephew gave up his bed for me and is sleeping on the couch for five weeks. I should not be afraid to drive a (huge) van for the first time in my life, down unfamiliar winding roads, and over freeways and across bridges under construction. I should be able to stick with my dietary regimen and exercise program, even though I am constantly on the go and thoroughly exhausted.

How often do we hear ourselves say, ‘I should’? Have we not been ‘should’ on enough in our lives? What coding is embedded in the human psyche that prompts us to judge our actions, or lack thereof, so harshly?

I think we all know the answer to that question: Guilt.

But from where does guilt derive? How does it become embedded? Is it innate or learned? Unless it is a defensive mechanism all babies are born with, it is learned. So how do we unlearn it? How do we unlearn anything that has become a bad habit? We need to look at what caused the habit to develop in the first place.

Negative messages received in childhood imprint on our psyches. We play these messages over and over in our minds until they are embedded as core beliefs that become self-fulfilling. Thus, our life experiences generally result from what we believe to be true.

Energy follows thought.

It is also important to be cognizant of the pitfalls of perpetuating negative self-judgment. Those pitfalls are the tradeoffs garnered through self-denigration. One example is the ‘poor me’ attitude. This may elicit the treasured attention that was absent in childhood, but it is merely Band-Aid treatment for a fractured psyche.

Once we discover the origin of guilt, we need to recognize it as a mental process conceived of the emotion, fear.

All emotion stems from either LOVE or FEAR.

We might feel guilty, but the truth is we feel afraid – afraid of being disliked, shunned, rejected. As this primordial broth simmers, the subconscious mind attempts to make sense of it and accommodate what it perceives to be our needs.

The subconscious is a servant that takes all we feel at face value.

Image courtesy of Ningren

If we are afraid of something, it infers we must want to defend against it and does all in its power to make this so. In the case of negative self-judgment, it armors us with guilt. However, we oftentimes are not aware of the underlying feeling(s) driving our behavior. Yet guilt will not be denied.

This is a good thing, because guilt forces our feelings into the realm of the conscious, providing an opportunity for change and growth. Accepting all fear as fear of death might make coping and dealing with negative self-judgment a little easier. After all, rejection is certainly not going to kill us.

Negative self-judgment is a mask worn by fear, and guilt is its weapon.

Upon recognizing this, we can address fear by first acknowledging and thanking it, and then working on letting it go.

* Acknowledging and thanking our feelings before attempting to change them is crucial. *

When we humans were still in the food chain, fear kept us alive. Fear honed our instincts and was our biggest ally. Criticizing or denying it serves only to repress it, leaving it to marinate and continue surfacing, possibly in less-recognizable forms.

The next step is realizing that the rejection we anticipate might not be what will actually occur. When we are seated in fear, our perception is distorted.

Fear obscures clear thinking and eclipses sound judgment.

Thus, we conclude we are inadequate, for reasons we are not aware of or do not fully understand.

Society holds adults accountable for all behavior at the moment it is manifest. But when judging ourselves, we have the time to explore our feelings, learn what drives them, and change what we do not like and/or what holds us hostage.

Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule. –Buddha

Image courtesy of Lucie Stastkova

It follows that the same can be said of fear. Self-denigration impedes our growth, while forgiveness and love nourish the eternal spirit and help it flourish.

Negative self-judgment and ensuing guilt serve only to make us aware of underlying feelings. They do not serve if we forgo exploring the root of our emotions and causes of our behavior.

Meditating and walking in nature are two things that help me work through chaotic feelings. When I need a break from this work, dancing and listening to music elevate and comfort me.

What do you do to help you understand your emotions and behavior?

Until the next time, my friends… Namaste

© Tina Frisco 2017

Tina Frisco

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80 thoughts on “Negative Self-Judgment – Guest post by, Tina Frisco…

  1. Thank you, Chris, for hosting, Tina. Tina this was excellent, I was a bit fuzzy about guilt and had thought many times, “Well where does it stem from?” Reading your post I now understand, thank you so much. xxx

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is SO good, Tina! I echo all the comments I passed on my way to the comment box. THANKS, Chris, for hosting — but I can’t help but wish that Tina’s article had been on MY blog first. Such a great way to point out “real life” examples of a whole bunch of brain-based stuff!!

    Reframing guilt as fear is one of the most important points in the article to my mind.

    We certainly didn’t want Mommy & Daddy to stop liking us, right? Maybe they wouldn’t feed us either – or take us to fun places to play! And BOOM – one small jump from that concept to unconscious people pleasing as a life strategy (or at least fear of people DIS-pleasing).

    To answer your question, Tina, I got a huge jump start on recognizing and understanding the sources of my feelings (and those of others) in my years of acting training. DOING what I know will help is still a struggle some days.

    Like you, dancing is an immediate state changer – as is getting outside with Tink (as long as I’m dressed for the weather). Writing helps a lot too – but more on the order of an article or a book (i.e., distracting myself with focus elsewhere) vs. “journalling my feelings,” which tends to keep me stuck there longer.

    Depending on the book, the subject matter and the writing style, escaping into a great piece of fiction works well for me too (even tho’ I frequently find myself resisting sticking through the first page or two it always takes to become absorbed in the world, even when the writing is amazing)

    I tend to ruminate when I try to meditate to recenter when negative thoughts take over, however (ADD anyone?). Unlike the reports of many ADDers, I *can* settle down to meditate from a relatively neutral baseline, but it is more preventative medicine for me. Moving meditations work most reliably (yoga, tai chi and the like) vs. sitting still and ohm-ing.

    Good question, Tina!
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD/EFD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to transform a world!

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thank you for the terrific comment, Madelyn! I can imagine how acting might assist in understanding ourselves. I’ve done quite a bit of role-playing over the years, and it helped immensely. My experience with journaling is the same as yours. I tend to wallow in my feelings rather than flesh them out, as I do when writing an article. I also share your experience with meditating. Guided and moving meditations work best. I must admit, however, that when I’m able to settle myself while in the midst of distressful emotion, I’m often catapulted into higher consciousness and broader awareness. It seems we can harness the power of intense feelings and use it to our advantage. Thank you for sharing so extensively! I find comments can be as enlightening as the post itself ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. An exceptional post Tina. ❤ 'The rejection we're fearing may not occur' makes sense to me, but when I'm fearing it, I have an uncanny feeling that I know I am right, not that I'm imagining what would happen. So complex. 🙂 xx

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks, Deb. Our emotional structure is indeed complex. There have been times when I was certain rejection was on the horizon, only gratefully to be greeted by acceptance. Fear tends to flip the coin to the tails-up negative as we recall past experiences. While in the throes of fear, discerning which side of the coin is actually showing can be tricky, but not impossible. It seems you have a good handle on this, my friend ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Thanks, Chris for hosting Tina. Tina, I also find walking and meditation very helpful. I exercise regularly (now, because I also come and go a fair bit, I tend to follow You Tube exercise channels), most mornings, perform the five rejuvenation rites every morning and try to look at things with perspective. Thanks for the advice. Very inspiring.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Welcome, Olga. Sounds like you’re on a strong path to self-discovery. I’m glad you mentioned the five rejuvenation rites, because it reminded me that I’ve been remiss in performing the five rites mentioned in Peter Kelder’s book, Ancient Secret of the Fountain of Youth. Would these be the five rites you’re referring to? I got derailed from my practice while back East helping with my mother. Thanks so much for the reminder 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 3 people

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