BY: T. Franklin Murphy | December 2018
Critical self-judgments create an unfriendly environment for growth. Under harsh conditions the self-begins to conceal reality to protect the soul.
Intellectually we know: perfection is impossible. Yet we judge and punish our glitches with impunity. Drowning in shame, we grapple with the stupid things that we do—perhaps a relic from strict childhoods, desperately wanting to please but always falling short. We can’t simply erase the disturbing demons of childhood—emotional reactions stubbornly resist. We can, however, learn to better cope with the childhood hitch hikers, embrace our beingness, and with hope and compassion progress and refine.
By recognizing emotional relics, we can challenge the harsh judgments, soothing the discomfort from the yoke of weighty expectations, and embrace the shameful self. We can soften judgments with purposeful reminders of the natural fallibility and imperfectness of human existence. By redirecting thoughts, we don’t extinguish embedded emotions bubbling to the surface from childhood programming, but we do lesson their impact with these healthy soothing practices.
"We can soften judgments with purposeful reminders of the natural fallibility and imperfectness of human existence."
The problem with harshness is it diminishes internal resources rather than recruit effective action. The bombardment of critical judgment, projected on to the nature of our character, quickly undermines action, depressing our souls, and encouraging pulling back instead of reaching further. We must be kinder to the ordinary flaws of living without giving license to ethical shortcuts. We don’t excuse cheating on taxes, but also don’t condemn for a day of laziness.
Our daily blunders teach humility, faithfully reminding of imperfectness—the flawed existence we all share. We learn wisdom through examining errors; not despising them. If we demand perfection, believing critical judgment is an avenue to prove worth, we will fail. We are who we are! The more we examine, the more we discover—millions of shortcomings wait to slap us down, depress our souls and announce imperfection.
Punishing with damaging self-judgment when we feel unsure or detect weakness doesn’t motivate. Let curiosity drive personal explorations, letting go of self-punishments. In awe of our aliveness, we can embrace our imperfect humanity. We can acknowledge hurtful behaviors without declaring a destructive war on ourselves. Make corrections where necessary and then kindly move forward.
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