The Poison of Self-Judgment, A Guide

Quote: “Attempting to change behaviors that stem from self-judgment by adding more self-judgment is like trying to extinguish a fire with more fire.”


The Poison of Self-Judgment

(A Guide for Adding More Love)

During a coaching session last Saturday, we had a profound realization that led to the classic “holy shit” moment.

The person I was speaking with was concerned about how she was showing up for those she cared for and loved. She asked herself questions like…

  • Am I too much of this or that? Or maybe I’m not enough of that or this? Should I do it this way or that way? What if I can’t?”

After she finished her list of questions, I paused for a few seconds to invite some stillness. Then, I simply asked…

  • “In your frustration about these experiences, how much of that pain is in response to self-judgment?”

After a few seconds, she responded…

  • “Oh wow, a lot, actually.”

The Self-Judgment Trap

There’s a classic trap here that we fall into, and it’s the trap of trying to escape the pain of self-judgment by getting more control over ourselves. However, the tool we are using to escape the pain of self-judgment is the tool of adding more self-judgment.

The innocent false assumption is that I’m experiencing frustration and pain because of how I’m showing up in the world. Actually, though, the frustration and pain are in response to self-judgment; it’s in response to seeing myself as less than, and that hurts. We look at how we show up, and it doesn’t match the ‘perfect’ image we have of ourselves. We hold ourselves hostage with this image.

  • We proclaim: “Dear Self, if only you could match this perfect image I have of you, then I could love you. So, in an effort to get you to match that ‘imaginary’ image, I will withhold love from you.”

This is completely understandable, as we’ve been conditioned to operate this way. We were born into an environment, a society, that says… “I will love you, if.”

How’s that going, though? It’s terrible, I know. Good news! There’s another way.

The new way, the loving way, begins to arise because we see more deeply that self-judgment (same with judging others) is a poison that simply doesn’t serve the heart of our journey, our growth, and our capacity to enjoy life.

Let’s briefly explore more how it doesn’t serve.

A Purposeful Inquiry

Ask yourself these THREE deeply sincere questions.

  1. Is the pain I’m experiencing caused by how I show up, or is it because I believe/perceive it means I’m unworthy or “less than”?
    • The unconscious assumption, again, is to blame my pain on something ‘out there.’ Rather than seeing that emotional pain arises because of ‘how I see.’ If I see myself as ‘less than,’ I will feel that way. If I see myself as unworthy of love, it will create a sense of lacking love.
  2. If I judge myself as less than and unworthy of love, does that help me be more loving toward myself and others, or, does that make me be even more unloving where I want to push others (and myself) away?
    • Self-judgment (judgment in general) is a tool I use to make changes and manipulate myself into different behaviors, similar to how I might use it with a child when we say, “I’ll love you, if.” However, the question we must ask ourselves is whether this method serves our true selves and allows us to authentically enjoy the journey of growth and engagement.
  3. [important] The behaviors that flow through me that seemed to be problematic, are they not an expression that stems from self-judgment? (They are only possible because I judge myself as less than)
    • This is powerful. I really invite you to see how everything that flows through you that appears to be unloving in nature, only does so as a reflection of seeing yourself with eyes of judgment. The reflection is, essentially, “I can only be unkind to others if I am first unkind to myself.”


Attempting to change behaviors that stem from self-judgment by adding more self-judgment is like trying to extinguish a fire with more fire. Trying to reach more self-love through withholding self-love, is an equally insane approach that most humans engage in.

If you want more loving behaviors, you must add more love to the equation; not withhold love.

The healthier approach, the antithesis of self-judgment, is self-compassion. It is simply a deeper understanding of what’s actually happening. The more clearly we see things, the more natural compassion becomes. This self-compassion is actually a form of Love being shared.

Judgment vs. Discernment

Before we dive into bringing more love into the equation… Let’s explore a deeper understanding of the difference between Judgment and Discernment.

“The world is as it is, and so are we. It is only in our minds that we divide the world into good and bad, or beautiful and ugly, or right and wrong.” -Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj


Forming an opinion that determines the inherent value and worth of something or someone, based on limited information or knowledge.

  • When I judge myself or others, I make assumptions about their worth or value based on my own biases and beliefs. This can lead to feelings of superiority or inferiority, as well as a lack of empathy and understanding (compassion).


The ability to consciously observe or distinguish differences and recognize the nuances and subtleties in something or someone without making a value judgment.

  • When we practice discernment, I can see things as they are without adding my own biases or opinions. This allows me to cultivate a deeper understanding of myself and others, and to approach life with greater clarity and compassion. Discernment arises through genuine curiosity, which is only possible without judgment.

3 Steps for Adding More Love

How can we bring more love to the equation?

Well, I have to ask a preliminary question, do you actually want to? I ask this because it’s quite common that people approach these things in a way that’s simply looking for new ways to manipulate themselves, others, and life. As in…

  • I’ll pretend to be loving, and then maybe I’ll get what I want. I’ll pretend to be spiritual about it, and then maybe I’ll get the spiritual prize.

Pretty sure we’ve all played that game 😂

LOVE, is about what’s real, what’s authentic, what’s sincere, and what’s deeply true. There’s no pretending about it. I either want the real thing or… I’m looking for new tools to manipulate myself, life, and others so that I can get to that ‘perfect and unreal’ future image of myself. This is to explore these things from an energy of self-judgment.

  • Step 1: See the Adorable Misunderstanding (love)
  • Step 2: Forgive the Misunderstanding (compassion)
  • Step 3: Embrace the Journey of Transformation (freedom)

Step 1: The Adorable Misunderstanding (love)

Let’s take a moment to step back and see that self-judgment is a tool that we thought would work. However, upon further reflection, we can see that it doesn’t work so well. We don’t need to judge the tool, we can just see it with eyes of discernment.

It’s powerful to acknowledge our capacity to misunderstand the human experience, again, not judging the experience, but more so a compassionate fascination. This invites us not to believe the mind’s initial assumptions, but to be a bit more still and inquisitive.

As you’ve probably heard me say 1,000 times…

  • “My suffering has always been the result of an innocent misunderstanding.”

Step 2: Forgive the Misunderstanding (compassion)

As we see things more clearly, which is to connect more deeply with reality, compassion naturally arises. Forgiving misunderstandings involves recognizing that an experience doesn’t mean what you think it means about you, about others, or about life in general.

You see, ultimately, we forgive the mind’s misunderstandings, the assumptions, which were only products of conditioning. Given the conditioning and the journey you’ve been through, of course, the mind would assume what it assumes. This is why it’s innocent. The mind was simply, and innocently, confused about what was and is real.

Here’s something I often point to as well…

  • “I don’t forgive Life for being life, as if Life made a mistake. I forgive the mind for thinking it knows what life should or should not be doing. Because… Life surely knows what’s best for Life to keep being Life. My mind, however, simply cannot see the fullness of what life is doing.”

Step 3: Embrace the Journey of Transformation (freedom)

Yes, there is something sincere within you that would like to change, transform, or experience a more enlightened life. I get that. What often isn’t seen, though, is that this journey of transformational growth is already encoded within the human journey.

Just as a baby transforms into a child, there is a natural transformation of growth in mind, body, and heart. The baby doesn’t need to judge themselves into transformation. No, this tiny human simply ‘shows up.’ Within that ‘showing up’ is the naturalness of curiosity, wonder, exploration, and play. The sincerity of the inner landscape naturally takes this tiny human on a great adventure of transformation.

You know what helps? An environment of love, compassion, and freedom (sincere support and guidance). But before we start blaming our past environment as lacking in some way, it’s also those very challenges of things not being how we wanted that invite us to go deep within ourselves. This too is a natural aspect of the human adventure that brings us home.

Another quote that might be helpful…

  • “This whole time, life was wanting to take me on a grand adventure of discovering just how miraculous it was to be human. Too many years, however, I spent judging myself, not available to see the miracle I was already swimming in. Enough of that, let’s play.”

A Loving Conclusion

As you may already know, this writing is the pre-broadcast reflections, for the “Holding Space for Love to be Seen” Live Video Series.

Tomorrow, (April 18th, 2023), I’ll be going live on my (inLight Connect) YouTube Channel, diving more deeply into this subject. Yes, you’re invited to join me live or watch the replay!

I want to thank you for being there for me to share with. Your openness to receive my heart and offering has inspired me to continue writing, sharing, and exploring my own inner landscape. Thank you for being open and having the courage to dive deeply into the real heart of life with me.



HeartBased Deep Divers Group Training

Community Support & Training to See Yourself, Others, & Life more Clearly.
Coming Soon

More Reading

Ahh, being genuine. It sounds so sweet. Yet, for many… we feel compelled to disregard being genuine and rather we try to be what we think the world wants us to be. In this Monday...
Said so beautifully, in Rumi's words… “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” In this inSight Letter, let's explore this opportunity to allow the light in. Maybe, if we are open to...

Quote: “There is this beautiful softness I feel in surrendering my quest to be self-confident and just deeply acknowledging the reality of my character’s imaginary nature.”   Estimated 8-minute read This letter on “real confidence...

TL;DR? I make the case that there is no future event to come where the world finally wakes up, and we all hold hangs singing spiritual mantras. The struggle that assumes “the world” is not...

Quote: “Interestingly, in my attempt to get away from that which I can’t get away from, as I run, it creates the appearance that it’s chasing me. As I hide, it creates the appearance of always...

On Key

Related Posts

How to Be… of Genuine Service?

Ahh, being genuine. It sounds so sweet. Yet, for many… we feel compelled to disregard being genuine and rather we try to be what we think the world wants us to be. In this Monday inSight Letter, let’s go beyond these silly illusions and come home to the real heart of what we are, and embrace the deeper opportunity we have – to be… of genuine service.

The “Money” Illusion; Transform Unconscious Beliefs

Are you even aware… of just how much your beliefs about money shape your experience with money? Well, it’s just like everything else in the journey of being human; the reality we experience is a direct reflection of our thoughts and unconscious beliefs. Maybe it’s time to take a look under the hood, and see why your experience doesn’t match your heart’s desires.

The Light that Heals All Wounds

Said so beautifully, in Rumi’s words… “The wound is the place where the light enters you.” In this inSight Letter, let’s explore this opportunity to allow the light in. Maybe, if we are open to it, we just might discover a beauty that melts our pain and inspires our hearts to love a bit more.

Wanting to Give Up; it’s too hard

Every journey towards something important or worthwhile will encounter moments when you want to give up. It’s okay to feel that way. But before you give up, let’s explore some other options that might preserve the heart and intention of what you’re trying to do, and bring clarity about how to move forward.