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Keeping self-judgement out of the picture – a “how-to” guide

Let me start with a personal question. When you think of self, what do you think of? Is it self-love, self-care? Or is it self-deprecation or self-judgement? Unfortunately, for many, the answer is often the latter. It has often been said that comparison is the thief of joy, and while this may be the case, I feel that this also applies to self-judgement. Self-judgement, and our ruthless criticism of ourselves, starves us not only of appreciating our achievements but also the achievements and successes of our loved ones.

Self-judgement (noun.)
1. The act or fact of judging oneself.

Self-judgement is a predicament that many of us find ourselves in. There’s little rationale behind it and very little understanding around why so many of us feel the urge to judge ourselves,. But that doesn’t change the fact that we can, we will, and we do.

It is certainly one thing to say that we won’t allow self-judgement to participate in our lives and experiences, and another thing entirely to put that into practice. There are ways, however – small changes – that can be adopted to make the transition to a happier and less judgemental version of ourselves.

As difficult as it may be, it's vital to remember that no one else can know your full situation, your background, your hopes, your aspirations, or your stresses. Don’t expect them to, and don’t compare your situation to anyone else’s. Situational awareness applies to much more than your physical surroundings. We may often feel that we are our own worst enemies, but I think it’s really important to consider yourself your own best friend as well and to treat yourself as you would a friend. Think about it – would you really judge a loved one in the same way that you would judge yourself?

Self-judgement is something that I have struggled with for a long time. To such an extent, in fact, that I toyed with the idea of actually writing about it, as it felt almost too personal a topic for me to discuss. However, I soon realised that this fact made it a perfect topic for me to dive into. I’ll be the first to admit that I am still quite a way off being consistently less judgemental of myself, but I’m much further along in my journey than I would’ve been without the adoption of some important behaviours.

The main thing I find myself asking is, “why?”. One word, three letters, but my God - do they pack a punch. Why do I feel this way? Why do I seem to think that one mistake makes me a failure? Why do I feel that I don’t deserve to succeed? It blew my mind when I realised I couldn’t answer these questions. I soon came to terms with the fact that my self-judgemental mindset was impacting my previously positive outlook on life – and was becoming seriously detrimental to my confidence. I knew I had to make a change.

We’ve all heard the phrase “treat others as you would like to be treated”, taught broadly in schools and homes across the world, ingraining in the younger generations the importance of respect. Why do we lose this as we get older, forgetting to treat ourselves with the same respect we give others?

I started to focus on the positives about myself, wholeheartedly accepting compliments that came my way and not allowing myself to question their legitimacy. I didn’t ask “why?” when compliments came from others. I stopped believing the intrusive, negative thoughts that were plaguing me, and instead started believing in the positives – although I sometimes still feel judgemental of myself, I know deep down that those feelings are unfounded.

Every day I try to find something to celebrate within myself, something that I would praise wholeheartedly in someone else without a second thought. Some days it might be my intelligence, my kindness, or my approachability. Other days it could be something more along the lines of seeing how nice my smile looks when I wear red lipstick. Some days, I struggle to find anything at all, so I take the time to find something in myself to appreciate.

In a way, I’m glad that I used to judge myself in the way I did. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to change my outlook and increase my appreciation of myself rather than my judgement. My previous experience gave me room to grow, and now I feel that when I take the time to celebrate and appreciate myself, it is with an appreciation that I have worked hard for and truly deserve. A lack of self-appreciation holds us back. I believe that we cannot succeed in the way we are capable of if we don’t feel that we deserve it.

However, my final piece of advice – and the most important of all – is to not criticise yourself for judging yourself. We’re all only human, trying to navigate our way through messy lives with a plethora of complexities. Don’t be afraid to cut yourself some slack – all that any of us can do is our best.

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